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“Later in the 80s, it was briefly used for religious stage shows.” Actually, it was about 5 months in 1988 (Feb-Jun). I worked there with several of the high school students that I was mentoring at the time. We did a couple shows per week (Wed & Sat, I think) It was basically vaudeville with a gentle Christian message. Trying to get open was pure Hell because the neighborhood fought us every step of the way – they remembered the mayhem caused by the live rock concerts in the late-70s/early-80s and didn’t want a repeat.
At the time, the area was so-so – good during the day, marginal at night. My students and I usually ate at Gertie’s ice cream or the McDonalds a block North on Kedzie. There was a little diner on the opposite corner that we called ‘the greasy spoon’ but that was grossly unfair because the food and the service were always good.
We got access to the building on the last day of January ‘88. It was 9 degrees colder inside the building than outside. We spent weeks replacing light bulbs, repairing the light board, getting the fire sprinkler system up & running, setting up the house sound system, restoring an old follow spot that had been left behind by one of the rock bands ('Jinx’) and a million other things.
The caretaker’s name was Mike. He lived in the building. ‘Mikey’ had been there since ‘79. I know because he told us the film that was playing when he started working there was 'Alien’…and that locking up at 1 AM after watching the movie 4 times was the scariest moment of his life.
I went back with a couple of the kids about 10 years later. The area had deteriorated substantially.but Mikey was still there. While we were in Gertie’s, someone broke into my car. Haven’t been back since.
The Colony operated briefly in the late 70s/early 80s as a road house for rock concerts. The neighbors complained about the noise and the city went into harassment mode and shut them down. It remained vacant until about ‘88 when a Christian ministry tried to revive it with weekly vaudeville-type shows that had a low-pressure religious message. The neighbors didn’t complain, but they didn’t support it either. It failed in less than 6 months. By 1998, it had been gutted and was being used as a warehouse by a property managment company. No idea as to current status.