Marbro Theatre

4110 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 51 - 75 of 266 comments

BobbyS on February 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

I had to walk two blocks to see what they were putting on the sign on Thursday nights. Couldn’t wait ‘til Friday when I walked by. You had it easy. By the middle 50’s, there weren’t any bulbs on the vertical sign. Pink neon only and elevator trucks were used to re-gas the tubes. I think maybe there were bulbs at one time when they first updated the sign, because you could see the holes were the bulbs used to be. I wonder what year they did the neon.

amoswald on January 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I lived on Madison one half block west on the south side of the street. I’d open the window to check the marquee to see what movies were playing. You can’t beat that memory.

JoelWeide on January 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I am amazed by the size of the upright sign. I wonder what it took to change the blubs on it?

amoswald on January 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If any of you are on FB, there are photos and memories of the Marbro and other B&K theaters posted on the Austin neighborhood group and the St. Mel’s group.

Scott on January 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I have added a photo of the Marbro, which is actually a postcard view of the theatre from 1929. It shows a little more of West Madison Street than most of the other early pictures I’ve seen.

BobbyS on August 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Great photo..Would love to see same photo in late 40’s & 50’s same view new signage. Thanks.

Broan on August 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Here is a nice early view

BobbyS on July 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Ditto, I will also check it out. Always interested about stories of the majestic Marbro….

amoswald on July 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for this reference. I will check it out.

Evanston_Dad on July 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Anyone with memories or interest in the old Chicago West Side would also enjoy Jack Clark’s novel “Westerfield’s Chain”. It is set on Madison street in the 90s, and a pharmacy across from the former Marbro Theater location figures prominently. but there are many references to the pre-riot West Side. Jack Clark is a chicago writer and Cab driver who grew up in the Austin neighborhood in the 70s. Check out

amoswald on July 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

All true, it was very sad to see the neighborhood decline. My mother would not let us see West Side Story when it opened at the Marbro – she was right. There were fights in the theater and damage done. One of my friends had some of her hair cut off as she watched the movie.

I also knew kids whose families slept in shifts in the apartment – 12 or more people living there. We could never go inside and the kids had to stay outside all day long so they wouldn’t wake the people who were sleeping during the day and working the night shifts in factories nearby.

BobbyS on July 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

SBGreig, I read the book and thanks for reccomendation. It opened my eyes! It seems the city was a fault for so many reasons. Not inforcing # of people living in small quarters (4 families living in a one flat with up to 5 names on mailboxes) Not fixing basic infrastructure streets etc, despite pleas from business owners to protect their property and much much more. It was a great read and for the first time I understand what happened to my “playground” even though the city had plenty to lose with sales tax decline.

BobbyS on June 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

The Marbro had its share of out of control youths gone wild in the early 60’s which led B&K to think what to do. They talk about “flash gangs” today, well they had them back then too. The West Madison area became very unsafe and led people to flee in great numnbers.This great theater became a very unsafe place to watch a movie in the dark…….

SBGreig on June 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm

For an understanding of what was behind the collapse of the Great West Side after WW2, I recommend the book “Block By Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side” by Amanda Seligman.

My mother lived with her parents on the West Side from about 1954 to 1958; she remembers West Madison and the Marbro fondly. From her memories, even in the 1950s it was apparent that the area had seen better days; by the early 1960s things were spinning out of control and it was time to get out.

As an example, in the summer of 1961 the owner of the fabled Graemere apartment hotel at Madison and Homan was literally chased out of Garfield Park by a group of local street youths; he sold the area landmark that December. My mother remembers other instances of street crime flaring up around the time her parents left the area in 1964.

BobbyS on May 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Very unfortuante the people I went with told me all about the “relics from the past” and I was very interested seeing them. The restaurant had a sale a few months ago and sold most everything.
They kept the fountain in the lobby from Italy which is beautiful and the dining room from France for private parties which I loved. Everything else was sold. The owners want to appeal to a younger more “hip” crowd I was told. I was sad to see that but the food was outstanding and the young Prom crowd seemed very happy to be there. I thought the downtown looked very sad with all the vacant buildings and “For Sale” or “For Rent” signs. It must have been quite a city in is day. But all the river towns in Ill. have the same fate. It is really no different than Joliet or Aurora. But unlike the other two, they still have three theaters standing even though two are shuttered.. Maybe there will be a boom again in the future and the crowds will once again appear. I was impressed with the Midway. I will have to visit the site.

BobbyS on May 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Scott, I went to Rockford this week-end to see Circus Solei at the Metro Center. The Coronado marquee was all lit up in the afternoon. As we were leaving we passed the still closed TIMES Theatre and I saw the closed Midway. Name still on marquee and the attraction boards covered up. It had a very regal facade. Can you tell me something of the interior? Went thru Love’s Park and we had dinner at the Breakers on the Rock River. It was wonderful. The city looks tragic!

BobbyS on April 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

For those who remember the Marbro, click on Muvico Rosemont and read the posts. Be sure and click on the pix’s post to see some beautiful shots. I agree with someone who thinks the design of the facade had our Paradise influence. This is a beautiful and colorful addition to our Chicago movie scene and gives one a feeling how our beloved Marbro looked at night on Madison St. so many years ago.

BobbyS on April 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

I remember going to the Marbro during Easter week along with hundreds of others to be inspired by the latest biblical epic on the great screen. In many ways it was like going to a church with a quiet respect among the many.

BobbyS on April 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Scott, Joliet is having a mayoral election soon and all candidates are saying things about the budget which is millions of dollars in debt will have to change. For one thing, the city of Joliet gives the Rialto theater $700,000 yearly just to keep the doors open. Yes the theater makes a profit for their touring shows, but if the grant disappears, who knows. Umemployment is 12%, one of the highest in Il. cities. Go to Loew’s Kings Cinema treasure site and see the latest video on Loew’s 175th theater. It is called United Palace Theater now. Also The Rialto Theater in Joliet is doing their 15th annual organfest with two organs, grand piano and live band on stage and entertainment. It will be on April 30th 7pm. It may be the last one due to the fact the Rialto management produces. If anyone wants to see a beautiful and I mean beautiful movie palace in operation, this is the time to see it. Tickets are $33, parking free. Do you feel like taking the train up north Scott? It does stop in Joliet.
I would like to get a ticket for you.

BobbyS on March 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Scott, this was a 4 day event that the fox organ club has yearly. Monday was the last and final day with a farewll lunch and everybody goes home. I don’t think it was opened to the public because members could tinkle the keys after the concert. With the snow down there, I don’t think I am too sad. I did join the Coronado organ group that has monthly shows for $10 and includes great coffee and rolls before it begins and the theater is beautiful……… I love it….

BobbyS on March 27, 2011 at 9:47 am

Scott, The city is holding back the permit fot the Patio to re-open.
Is ready-to-go I hear execpt for the permit to open the front door. Must be back taxes owed. If that small theatre is having a problem, the grand ole Marbro would have even more issues don’t you think.
I never made it to St. Louis this week-end to the Fox organfest. I looked at Amtrak and it was 5 ½ hours. With the price of gas at $4
a gallon, I didn’t want to drive. Besides the show Mon is at 9am- 11am. Not the afternoon show like I thought. So I’ll have to be content with my new discovery, the Coronado.

BobbyS on March 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Scrabble, it was a Sunday afternoon. Good for you. I was at(you guessed it) the Marbro when my father pulled his car under the marquee and we all got in when he told us what happened and it was on the car radio. It was frightning to say the least. You just didn’t hear things like that. As we got home we had the radio on during dinner. I could see my father was worried about his kids and we were told from then on to watch out for each other in the theaters and elsewhere…… As for smelling food in a theater, have you been to a concert at the Allsate complex in Rosement lately? I was there last year for the circus and it was like a foodfest. People in front of me were eating nachos with cheese and something that smelled like salami & peppers and everything in-between..

Scrabble on March 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I forgot too that many times we would be dropped and walk in during the middle of the picture and then leave when we remembered when we had come in. I was born on the 1400 block of Sedgwick Street near Lincoln Park and my Mom would take us to the Plaza Theatre, then she would leave to go shopping, and return with hot dog sandwiches & fries for us. It was such a thrill for us when she would return with food — now I wonder if anyone could ever smell the odor of food in the theatre. I remember too the Grimes Sisters tragedy as well as the two Schuessler Brothers and their cousin Robert Peterson homicides; it was so sad and I believe that occurred on a Sunday afternoon.

BobbyS on March 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

Scott, Now that you mentioned it, many times we would walk into the middle of the picture or the many cartons and would sit there until it started again and we would leave when we remembered where we came it. I forgot all about that. I can remember my Mom & Dad checking the Trib to see what time the Marbro doors opened more so then when the film started. I guess they felt very safe if we were “dumped” in front of the Marbro, we would be ok. Of course in those days, you didn’t hear much about children being kidnapped except for the Grimes sisters or those three boys that were found dead. My parents trusted the ushers at the Marbro & Paradise to keep an “eye” on us even though we kept an “eye” on them! My parents felt we were safe at a B&K house. There was a fortune telling business near Burny Bros. bakery on Cicero near Adams st. They had drapes covering all the windows. We were instructed NOT to walk in front of the store for they would snatch us and sell us. Pretty heavy stuff for a tot to conceive!

Scrabble on March 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

I thought the Tiffin had the absolute best popcorn and I remember going to the library which was just north of North Avenue on Pulaski as well. It was fun going to the Record Shop as well. So many fun and precious memories……