Garrick Theatre

64 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Originally named the Schiller Theatre after Friedrich Schiller, the German playwright, poet and philospher, the theatre was briefly known as the Dearborn Theatre (1898-1903) before gaining its last name, the Garrick Theatre, in 1903, when the Shubert Brothers operated the legitimate house. The Schiller Building was designed by the firm of Adler & Sullivan in 1891.

In March of 1934, movies took over from legitimate theatre at the Garrick Theatre when the theatre was acquired by the Balaban & Katz circuit. The firm of Rapp & Rapp was hired during the 1930’s to remodel parts of the Garrick Theatre, including the main entrance, ticket booth and lobby areas, in an Art Deco style.

From the late-1940’s and into the mid-1950’s, the Garrick Theatre stage was used for live local (and later national) television broadcasts. In 1957, Balaban & Katz resumed showing movies at the Garrick Theatre.

When Balaban & Katz announced it was shuttering the Garrick Theatre on May 19, 1960 and it would be torn down, there was one of the earliest organized public outcries in Chicago to save an historic building, but it was to no avail, since it was demolished a few months later and replaced with a monstrously ugly multilevel parking garage (that was itself razed in the late-1990’s).

A large portion of the facade featuring portraits of famous Germans was saved and was later incorporated into the entranceway of the Second City Theatre on N. Wells Street.

On the same block as the Garrick Thetare stood a handful of other theatres, now all gone as well — the Olympic Theatre (later renamed the Apollo Theatre), the Wood’s Theatre, and the Harris Theatre and the Selwyn Theatre (whose facades were salvaged and incorporated into the new Goodman Theatre, which occupies the former site of the Wood’s, Harris and Selwyn Theatres).

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 76 comments)

EricV on March 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

The Chicago premiere for the Krupa story was on Friday January 15th 1960. Trib ad mentions Mineo & Krupa would be on hand to sign “fan fotos.” Mineo also appeared at the theatre on Saturday.

JRS40 on November 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

The last day of operation was May 19,1960. It’s final features were “Masters of the Congo Jungle” plus “When Comedy Was King.”

DavidZornig on February 10, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Here is a 2011 link with the various places the stone faces from the Garrick ended up, scattered around the city. Copy & Paste to view.

DavidZornig on September 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Mid `50’s photo added, photo credit John Szarkowski, from his book ‘The Idea of Louis Sullivan’.

DavidZornig on October 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Ran across this in the Ryerson Collection. 4 pages. You need to enlarge them to read them. Copy & paste to view.

DavidZornig on March 3, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Posted some photos of additional Frederick Almenraeder Garrick Theatre heads I ran across. One in a display currently at the Chicago Cultural Center, in the West corridor on the first floor near the restrooms. History and confirmation of the 1961 demolition included. The other two mounted in a brick wall in the 1900 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

DavidZornig on September 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

1959 photo in below Flickr link.

DavidZornig on January 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

Facebook post that has 1960 John Vinci photos of Richard Nickel salvaging terra cotta from the Garrick Theatre building roof area.

DavidZornig on April 24, 2019 at 8:56 am

2018 link with additional photos.

DavidZornig on November 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Urban Remains article detailing the disposition of ornamental features from the Garrick Theatre.

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