Showing 201 - 218 of 218 comments
The Capitol theatre was built by Mr. McCelland who came to Canada from Kingston, Jamaica to make his fortune. Judging from the building he either achieved his goal or had very good credit. The theatre was built in 1923 and was set back about 30 feet from Yonge Street. The balance of the theatre complex as shown in this photo was built over a year later. The Capitol was an independant theatre for a number of years which made its survival as a single screen movie palace even more difficult. During the 90’s it was managed by a small second run theatre chain called Festival Cinemas. During their first year or two I believe they simply supplied staff because the Capitol was never advertised with their other theatres and it also remained a first run house. During the late 90’s the terms of the management agreement must have changed because the Capitol became a second-run house and was now advertised in The Festival’s bi-monthly movie guide. I saw one movie at the Capitol before it closed to become an “event space”. Newer wide seats had been installed and it was by far the nicest theatre in the Festival fold. Unfortunately, Festival could not make a go of it and did not renew their lease. Memory tells me the theatre sat empty for about a year before it was leased or sold to the “event space” people. Even with the installation of the wide seating, I’d estimate the balcony and main floor seating capacity at about a total of 1300.
My wife and I were travelling in Pittsburg shortly after the restoration of the Benedum was complete but had not been opened yet to the public. I had hoped to see the inside of the theatre but had no idea as to the extensive visual tour we were about to receive. While walking by the theatre I naturally tried one of the front doors and to my surprise it opened. We walked inside and about 25 seconds later someone appeared and said “You’re late”. Trying not to look too surprised I said “Sorry”. We were then lead into a room with about 40 other people and were about to begin an extensive tour for theatre volunteers. Once the theatre offically opened these volunteers would answer theatre patron’s questions and also give abbreviated versions of our tour. The tour was visually delightful and very informative. Approximately one and half hours into the tour we let the group get a little ahead of us and quickly exited. Present tours probably elude to the lost couple who is still wandering around the theatre. I owe many thanks to the Benedum for this extensive tour and the wonderful story material which I reiterate almost every time I visit a theatre
I was never in the Montclare and unfortuately never saw the inside. I do know that it changed owners at least twice since its closure. One owner had tried to sell if for a long time and finally resorted to public auction (the reserve was way too high) and I don’t think it was sold. It did however change owners at least one time after the failed auction. The current owner of the Patio told me he had considered buying it for conversion to banquet facilities but decided against it because of lack of parking. I do remember the theatre complex had several attached apartments which is why the market value was way beyond my price range. I asked my bother-in-law what he remembered about the theatre. He replied “Great popcorn”. I might have an exterior shot of the theatre which I’ll submit when its back online
I attended a free screening of “An Affair To Remember” at Shea’s about five years ago. The theatre was full and I was seated in the fifth from the last row of the balcony. The screen was so large I don’t even remember having to look down. A classic theatre, a classic movie, and 3500 people enjoying the ambience — what an experience.
It’s the kind of theatre you dream of owning, not too big but large enough to be interesting. I’ve been to it twice in the last five years and hope to go again soon despite the 1200 mile round trip. Good luck to the new owner and if you ever tire of it let me know.
I saw the inside of the theatre after its ballroom conversion. The balcony was still intact but the floor of course was leveled. I had to beg to see the inside because no one without a jacket was allowed inside and I wasn’t wearing one. The company running the ballroom I was told had converted other theatres. A big band was playing and none of the patrons except me was under fifty. I remember as a youngster riding by the Embassy on my bicycle and being fascinated by the former ticket booth which then contained two motorized 18 inch dolls dancing. This was in the 1950’s. The seating capacity of 1400 would be about right.
The North Center was not by any means an ornate B&K movie palace but it was a comfortable theatre and part of a small chain. It seated between 1200 & 1400 people.
The balcony was small in that it had no depth — it was more like continuous opera boxes or a loge rather than a true balcony. The foyer was huge; you entered on Lincoln Ave. but could exit on Damen Ave. if desired. The theatre’s ceiling contained a rather large oval which was covered in a brown fabric. In addition to four vertical aisles there was a wide horizontal aisle right in the middle of the seating. I’m not sure what purpose it served but if you had long legs it was the place to sit. The theatre had an organ which always played before the matinees. The organ music was shear agony for most of the kids who fantasized about shooting the organist and putting on some Jerry Lee Lewis music. The theatre complex contained apartments and some retail stores including a small department store called Hurst. The bowling alley and pool hall were down the block. The pool hall was in fact where the Cruise/Newman movie “the Hustler” was filmed. The theatre complex was torn down before 1970 and probably closer to 1965. My parents won a trip to Florida during one of the theatre’s promotions in the 1950’s
I never did see the auditorium of the Manor Theatre but did look into the foyer though the glass doors after the conversion to banquet facilties was complete. It looked like the garden of an Italian villa and was a popular spot for Italian wedding receptions. I knew an Italian girl who told me there was a two year waiting list for most bookings.This was in the 1960’s but it remained a popular banquet facility for many years. Years later the marquee (it was a nice one) advertised boxing matches and later still break dancing contests. The neighborhood had deteriorated and so did the Manor’s exterior. I can’t remember the year it was demolished.
It did have a balcony but I don’t remember much else about it.
The Commodore was a vey plain theatre. They used to sell an extra small box of popcorn for 5 cents. This was its best “feature”
I attended many movies at the Bugg and fortunately it wasn’t crawling with them. The Bugg closed briefly while a Cinemascope was installed and I think re-opened with “Broken Arrow” and another feature. I was worried that the child’s admission of 17 cents would go up but apon re-opening admission dropped to 15 cents. According to the fire safety occupancy sign the Bugg seated 599. I had no balcony.
I never got inside The Vogue but remember it. A relative who frequented it told me it was fairly plain inside. Memory tells me it was demolished in approximately 1958.
I managed to see the inside of the Southtown when it was operating as Carr’s department store. It was still quite beautiful because much of the theatre was still intact. The balcony was still intact and there where lots of sculptures. There was another theatre less than a block away on 63rd but I can’t remember the name.
The Marquette was owned the same chain that owned the Hi-Way and the Colony theatres. On the north side of the city they owned the Sheridan, Patio, Vogue, North Center and possibly some others.
I was visiting Chicago during the early stages of the theatre’s demolition and went inside. I’d estimate the seating to be in the 1200 range including the balcony. The Belmont/Central area of Chicago is a nice section of the city and the theatre looked as though it had been well cared for. I have some interior pictures of the theatre which I’ll submit when the process is back online.
I was lucky enough to see the inside of The Maryland during the late 1970’s. It was beautiful inside and ideal for live entertainment. Even the last row of seats was close to the stage making it a perfect place to see the many black recording artists who performed there. Unfortunately I never did. Several years after my initial visit to the Maryland, I returned to find vandals had ruined the entire theatre complex.
The Belpark Thatre was the largest theatre built in Chicago without a balcony. It also served as a department store before becoming a banquet hall. I believe the store’s name was Steinberg & Baum.
During my last visit to Chicago I talked to one of the tennants at the Patio Theatre Building who informed me that the building’s owner is hoping to lease out the theatre. Hope someone’s interested.