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I’m still curious about the decision to close and demolish in so short a time; surely this is one of the first of the movie-palace era in the nation to be demolished.
Looking at periodicals of the day, it seemed to be doing good business up until the very end.
A 1963 issue of Jet Magazine mentions a touring concert show and a conference having to scramble to find a new venue, as though the theater closed without much notice. A Moms Mabley LP released in 1964 was recorded at the theater in March of ‘63.
Some of the remaining lobby ornamentation has been recently removed and is supposedly going to be reused in a new restaurant in Hyde Park.
I’d place the photo at 1924. The bank building just beyond the tracks was completed that year, the Gypsy Lane dine and dance (marquee visible on the left) was closed by 1928, and the theater itself is presenting ‘Shuffle Along’ on stage, which, after its Broadway run, went on a road tour that year.
Rivest266 – looking at the ad you posted, I’m wondering if that’s the ad for the opening of the Maryland Theater across the street. The address on the ad is the same as that theater. Is there a chance the ‘Woodlawn’ title is actually referring to the neighborhood and not the theater?
So, it would seem that the early theater at this address was replaced or renovated, correct? The trade magazine referenced above gives the impression that it was to be replaced.
Maps of the late ‘20s and early ‘30s only show one theater, the Drexel, at 858 E.63rd, with a small jewelry shop occupying 854 E., a storefront in the building that houses the theater. However, in the 1916 University of Chicago commencement program there’s an ad for the Drexel Popcorn Shop at 856 E. ('The Best Popcorn You Ever Ate – Next To The Drexel) which was still at that address twenty years later.
In the 1916 University of Chicago commencement program, there’s an ad for the DeLuxe Theater: ‘Matinee Daily At 1PM – Now Showing Paramount Pictures In Exclusive Advance’.
A 1930 map shows the address being used as a Publix Cafeteria. Ira Rosenzweig, building owner.
In the paperwork submitted to the Landmarks Commission regarding the Portage Theater, it’s mentioned that the marquee from the Tivoli was refashioned and installed on the Portage, and that doors from the Marbro were reused there as well – I assume since they were fairly new at the time.
There’s a bizarre photo of the auditorium taken in the late ‘60s during construction of a mock-up of Bertrand Goldberg’s San Diego Theatre project.
See here: http://bertrandgoldberg.org/projects/san-diego-theatre/
As of 7/7/10, there is a for-rent sign on the exterior.
There is a photo of the updated Tivoli marquee visible in a different book called Chicago Jazz, by Sandor Demlinger.
I’ve only ever seen two exterior photos of the Trianon, and one of those only has the building’s marquee and radio transmission towers ever so slightly in the background (find it in Max Grinell’s book on Hyde Park). The other is a good shot taken from a building across the street that can be seen in William Kenney’s book Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History. Hope this helps.
A street-level photo of the Owl can be seen in Sandor Demlinger’s book Chicago Jazz.
Great photos. It appears as though the square panes of glass in the window surrounding the medallion were later spray painted in various colors. The dropped ceiling that closes off the balcony and above from the main floor was done in a similar way at the Central Park/COGIC.
Many of the handbills, show posters and tinted photograps (including those of Al Hibbler, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie) that were in the offices at the Regal were given to Gerri Oliver, who ran the Palm Tavern, where the stars would go after their performances. They remained on the walls until 2001 when she closed up shop. She still has them in her posession.
At the risk of nitpicking, the South Side sister of the Aragon Ballroom would have been the Trianon at 62nd and Cottage Grove; aside from similar size, general layout and richness of furnishings, both were developed and run by the Karzas Brothers, sharing the same entertainers and under the same race-restrictive admission policy.
Update: the deteriorating south wall of the building has been repaired and tuckpointed somewhat. Signs of pending reuse, perhaps?
There’s an aerial photo from 1962 that shows the theater’s footprint, so it was demolished sometime between ‘60 (when the above CTA photo was taken) and '62. Interestingly, the theater’s adjacent retail and apartment spaces appear intact at least until 1972, when another aerial photo was taken.
It’s still there as of this writing, but the winter was pretty rough on the south wall. There are only a few building left in Woodlawn that give any indication that 63rd Street was once a bright-light district; it would be a shame to lose it.