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 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 North 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 Woods 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 Woods, Harris and Selwyn Theatres).

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 70 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Great pictures local 311.Mike local 629.

Broan on January 15, 2012 at 8:15 am

A cornice fragment from the Garrick is at the Springold Theater Arts Center at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

chicagomike47 on September 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

i saw the premeire of the GENE KRUPA STORY there and got sal mineo’s autograph

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’.

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