Comments from DavidZornig

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DavidZornig commented about Oak Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I just found my 07/28/93 handbill from the Oak Theatre.
Alas, I have no way to scan it.
It advertises the address in print as 2000 North Western Av. Phone 235-8502. Which still should have been a 312 area code back then I believe.
I recapped this particular July night in an earlier post.

One more little tidbit that only music fans may find of interest. The show that night was actually ELO Part II. A toring group comprised of some former ELO members from their heyday. But no Jeff Lynne, the creative force and founder.
On the handbill it clearly states “Electric Light Orchestra LIVE at Oak Theatre”. Similar versions of this type of advertising would years later rear their head as a legal issue facing ELO Part II.
Turns out some unscrupulous promoters would knowingly bill ELO Part II as ELO, in an effort to boost ticket sales. Then claimed a clerical errors when “brought” to their attention.
At the time original drummer & co-founder Bev Bevan retired and left ELO Part II in 1999, they were no longer legally allowed to use ELO in their name. They now tour as The Orchestra. After a very brief stint as, I kid you not: “Electric Light Orchestra Part II Former Members”. A mouthful indeed, that was apparently later also rejected by attorneys after Bevan’s departure. Still a dynamite show though with experienced, accomplished musicians.

DavidZornig commented about Howard Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Thanks for the pics and updates. Hopefully they will make their 2010 Anniversary target date. They need to dry it in though, roof wise. 30 years is a long span of inactivity.
I’m waiting to read how Chicago’s Uptown Theatre roof has faired.

DavidZornig commented about Mode Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I too was stunned when I saw that the Rowland Funeral Home had been torn down. Would have made a great museum dedicated to the history of the neighborhood, if nothing else. There used to be some in-ground, city run swimming pools just West of there. In a quadrant/mini public parks kind of street set-up. Then a new foundation for a building that seemed to never get finished was poured after that. I think there are trees where the pool was now.

There was also a spectacular, massive sized church at the very point where Broadway & Sheridan meet, North almost to Montrose. It too was torn down maybe 1992 or so. I think it was closed long before that though. Alledgedly, Un-Godly type activity had apparently been taking place in some of the church’s many exterior alcoves.

DavidZornig commented about Workmen's Hall on Jan 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Wow! Holy House of Windsor.
This place reeks of character.
Too bad the official website doesn’t seem to be active. I’d love to know the full history.

DavidZornig commented about Howard Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Interesting reading. The documents are dated 2006. So obviously the HTR group was able to meet the criteria as of then. There is no news newer than Feb. of 2008 on the HTR website. But the link is active and full of other great history and info.

I read that one of the proposal’s criteria was that 51 percent of the hires for the renovation, had to be D.C residents. Though a noble move on the District’s part, such a stipulation can end up being a double edged sword. In some cases preventing willing, qualified developers who happen to be based out of town, from ever embarking on such a monumental project. Should they not be able to hire subcontractors, even local, as they see fit. I would think the District would have been eager to entertain proposals from ANY reputable developers, as long as it meant the project would come to fruition sooner rather than later.

Not sure if the District of Columbia is a right-to-work state, or if labor unions dictate what contractors are be used, etc. Those elements are certainly factored in when developers make their proposals. Who one hires should be left to the developers though. With full consideration to hire as many locals as possible. But not mandated.

DavidZornig commented about Howard Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Judging from the both the 2007 & vintage exterior views, it’s possible that the 1941 Streamline facade remodeling, might have ironically preserved the original facade.
Depending how drastic the construction measures were back then, to attach what appears to be just a giant concrete face over the old one.

Not sure why in 1941, that even what remodeling was done was considered Streamlining. It looks completely devoid of any theatrical character whatsoever. And the marquee looks strangley like it was held over from the original incarnation, styling wise.
Hopefully when the new renovation begins to take place, crews will gingerly remove the existing facade. And carefully enough so as to hopefully reveal the original facade still intact behind it. That would truly be returning the classic Howard Theatre to it’s roots.

The project needs an influential donor like Bill Cosby or Tyler Perry. Whose made a substantial, positive economic impact with a theatrical complex in Atlanta. Dubbed the Black Hollywood.

I’m surprised Howard University itself hasn’t adopted the cause given it’s history with the theatre. The venue/ museum concept is perfect. The developers should contact the recreators of Stax Records. Who rebuilt the current Stax museum/recording studio, originally in an old theater, from the original blueprints after their building was torn down.

Best of luck to the Howard Theatre Restoration!

DavidZornig commented about Oak Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Great info. I wonder what was spent in comparison, on the 1992 conversion to a live venue. Surely the land value trumped whatever was thought could be earned in any amount of time, running concerts.
That and an offer to develop the entire parcel throughout the Milwaukee Ave. side. I thought the White Castle back then was a reasonably new structure itself. There’s a modern looking condo building across on the N/W corner of Milwaukee & Armitage now too. Where Boston Store used to be I think. S/W corner is still vacant with temp fencing.

DavidZornig commented about Tiffin Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

Not the New Apollo, I knew of that one too. The one I’m thinking of is a massive possibly 3 story building on a N/W corner. I’m pretty sure it was West of California though. I’ll be down there this weekend, and try to pin it down.
There was a pretty cool old hotel at California & North(S/E corner) once. Not sure if it’s still there either.

DavidZornig commented about Studs at the Pussycat Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:26 am

There are several ironies in the television & VCR’s having hastened the demise of movie theaters, premise.

One, that some theaters once claimed to having “had” to run porno in order to stay afloat, then closed anyway.
Two, that the porno film biz seemed to flourish from an industry in the shadows, into a multi-million dollar juggernaut. Once it came into video and now DVD itself.
Once the product could be purchased and brought into homes, and not sought out in theaters where interacting with others whether desirable or not, was a given.
The industry then got another giant boost, with the introduction of the internet. Then it’s customer base needn’t even leave their homes to buy the product.

I remember the day’s of “Caligula” creating an uproar when it was first released. And it had name stars in it. It’s probably multiplied it’s sales many times over since then. Probably to it’s own makers surprise.

Which theaters then video stores ran/carried the X version of “The Bad Lieutenant”, was the last such controversy. Upon it’s release, the popularity of owning your own copies of anything was on a fast uprise.

DavidZornig commented about Tiffin Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:02 am

You are correct, Sacramento/Humboldt Blvd. The Armory I am familiar with. Shot a few events there for the city years ago.
The ballroom type building I think is West of even that. It’s on the North Side of North Ave. on a N/W corner, in an area full of 1st floor retail stores. Possibly a boarded up bank near to that too. I believe the ballroom facility is on the 2nd floor, and once tried a run at banquets in the same.

DavidZornig commented about Oak Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 10:31 am

Ah, you are correct, a Drive-Thru of a bank. What a waste.
Why couldn’t the bank have been incorporated within the Walgreen’s lot? Or maybe built where that vacant Checker’s/Title Loan joint was?

The Oak Theatre had huge new potential, and the area surely would have supported it had it been given more time as a live venue. They even could have reinstalled a screen and ran some art-house type stuff in their down time.

For all the land that spanned the Oak, White Castle & subsequent parking lots along Milwaukee, they could have easily fit the Walgreen’s and bank/drive-thru on the Milwaukee side whilst keeping the Oak in place. It all just needed a better layout.
They should have built the Walgreens structure where it’s own parking is now, instead of having two walls face the Armitage/Milwaukee corner.
The entrance isn’t even ON the corner. So what was the geographic benefit? It’s silly.

Not sure who built 1st or wanted to one-up who, but CVS is notorious for building stores a block from existing Walgreen’s stores. (CVS is in a former grocery store just up Milwaukee).

Down on Division St., there are 2 CVS’s a block in each direction of an existing Walgreen’s. Which coincidentally replaced the Playboy/Sandburg Theatre.

DavidZornig commented about Tiffin Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

Greetings all. What was the name of the giant ballroom that was on North Ave., West of at least Sacramento?
The building is still there, and the second floor has been long boarded up for years. I’m not sure of the cross street.

DavidZornig commented about Mode Theatre on Jan 6, 2009 at 9:53 am

My Festival/Mode recollections had inadvertantly gotten posted to the Sheridan/Palacio page. Probably because I was expounding on the area a bit.

The ultimate demolition & building of condos on the Mode site, likely took much longer to happen due to hesitant developer speculation in the area. That gas station at Irving & Sheridan seemed to hang in deveolpment limbo even when it doubled as Cubs parking.
There was also a hip hop clothing store under the “L” that had grafitti signage visible from the tracks. It too seemed transitional at first.

Further West on Irving at the tracks by the cemetary, I remember a small, freestanding triangular garage type building for sale in 1991 or so. They wanted an unbelievable 1.5 million or something for the thing. And it was on an alley, and later I found out had some kind of variance/clause about if the CTA ever needed space to do work.
So if that was the land pricing mindset in 1991, how long did it take for actual usable land to start hitting the high mark. It seemed the 1998-ish condo boom had passed the area by.

DavidZornig commented about 13th Avenue Warren Theatre on Jan 4, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Wow, this place looks spectacular. Kudos to them for recreating such a classic deco look on such a new theatre. Complete with Diner neon.
Thanks for the pics.

DavidZornig commented about Plaza Theatre on Jan 4, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I just remembered that Ogden Ave. actually used to “start” back then at North Ave. Not too far West of this locale. At approximately Larrabie St.
Where the giant lot for Father & Son Pizza is.

Ogden then wound S/W starting at Clybourn, then up & over a huge bridge at Division & Halsted. A bridge that became badly deteriorated over time. Concrete falling, etc.
That portion of Ogden Ave. was closed off to traffic for many years before ultimately being torn down in 1991. Remnants of that bridge can be seen across the river from the S/W corner of Division & Halsted. Behind the towing outfit.

Several chase seens were filmed on that bridge before it’s demise.
I believe for either Steve McQueen’s “The Hunter”, Chuck Norris' “Code Of Silence” or both.

DavidZornig commented about Stephen Joseph Theatre on Jan 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Thanks for the photo links.
Looks like “The Aristocats” yet again make their mark in theatre marquee history. If only I’d kept track.

DavidZornig commented about Plaza Theatre on Jan 4, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Thanks for clarifying it had closed by `74 KenMc. I knew I hadn’t missed theatre that obvious.

A lot of the Wells Street clubs & shops had promotional hawkers out front on a regular basis back then.
I could see how the Plaza Playmates might have worked double or even triple duty as advertising for the Plaza. Dancing as well as popcorn sales, etc. I haven’t reached my friend who grew up a block from there just yet. I’ll post back his recollections, and/or steer him to CT.

DavidZornig commented about Lincoln Village 1-6 on Dec 31, 2008 at 4:42 am

Greetings KingBiscuits. I never met Michael. Only met Virginia 2 times, before she’d done any films. We only had mutual acquaitances.
I then saw her at a Chicago tavern around 15-20 years ago. Fortunately I’d remembered enough names from the past, to legitimize talking to her in that instance. Sadly the hubcaps drew a blank with her.

However, I knew a couple actors from the Practical Theater Company on Howard Street.
So I happened to once meet Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Brad Hall in the late `70’s. Practical Theater was a storefront, comedy based theater that was near Damen-(Custer) & Howard. About 4 blocks West of The Howard Theatre. It was comprised of mostly NU theater students.

DavidZornig commented about Loyola Theater on Dec 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm

The Loyola Theater facade was again used in a different episode of a 2004 “King Of Queens” rerun called “Frigid Heirs”.

Normally that show was more true to it’s New York surroundings with it’s establishing shots of theaters and everything else.
But this time it was clearly again the Los Angeles Loyola Theater whose exterior was used. Possibly to aid the storyline’s use of “Silent Film Festival” on the marquee. A choice made by Carrie’s father and reluctantly agreed to. Plus a classis style theater would be a better suited visual for that type of festival, than the generic NY multi-plexes they’d used in some previous episodes.

I’m not sure if it was still open in 2004, but the front was certainly not of the current medical center look.
They could have used old footage of computer generated the marquee of course.

DavidZornig commented about Plaza Theatre on Dec 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

This one I completely drew a blank on. I went to high school right up the street at St. Michaels in 1974. So I rode the bus past here every day for a year. Can’t see how I missed it unless it was then recently gone. The address would put it where that giant subsidized housing high rise is near North-North Park Street, West of Weiland St. I’m not sure it’s Orleans on the North side of North Ave.
I worked at Old Town Players on North-North Park & Eugenie, and don’t remember the Plaza at all. Unlike the Aardvark, which I remember all to well.

I’ll ask my friend who grew up on Weiland about the Plaza.

P.S. So needless to say I know nothing of the Plaza Playmates. Now the Key Club though on Burton-(now Burton Place), I remember from delivering pizzas. There was always an instant dispute as to which driver would deliver there. And why it took so long to return.

DavidZornig commented about Lincoln Village 1-6 on Dec 30, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Thanks BWChicago, I posted over there. The Devon Ave. address of the Plaza threw me. But as the Plaza bio stated, it actually faced McCormick regardless.

DavidZornig commented about Plaza Theatre on Dec 30, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Not to beat the Zayre thing to death, but didn’t Zayre start out as a store called Venture? They had several Chicago locations, but two were North and close to each other.
The one mentioned above and one on Peterson Ave. East of Western, where the Target is now.

I saw the first run of “Robocop” at the Plaza. Thanks BWChicago for steering me towards the Plaza’s name.

DavidZornig commented about Glencoe Theatre on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

Thanks. I seem to remember seeing a play in Glenview around 1980.I thought it was in an older theater like building with an equally old stage.
But I could be wrong. Maybe it was strictly an old playhouse of sorts. Glenview was kind of far, and too wealthy for us to have been hangin' out there regularly.

DavidZornig commented about Glencoe Theatre on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:28 am

You might be right. I can’t imagine a place the size of Glenview not having a theatre at some time.
The Glenview House tavern has been there for over a hundred years.

DavidZornig commented about Lincoln Village 1-6 on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:24 am

“Hearts Of Dixie” was the last film I saw at the old Lincoln Village. Maybe 1989 or so. Starring the North Shore’s own Virginia Madsen. I gave her a set of hub caps for her Camaro back in `81.
How about a shout out Ginny!

What was the name of the multi-plex theaters on the North Side of McCormick East of Lincoln at that point? I think there was a Handy Andy there to or something. This would have been across McCormick from where Eric The Red’s North was located. In a completely different mall lot than Lincoln Village.