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 68 comments)

Goethe
Goethe on August 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

There is an in-depth research article regarding the history of the Schiller/Garrick theater on the following blog:

View link

The focus of the story is actually on determining the identity of the four terra cotta portrait heads which appear on the façade of The Second City in Chicago â€" but it documents the history of the heads from their origin on the Schiller theater up to the time they made their appearance on the “greatest comedy club in the world.”

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Some of the facade from the former Garrick Theatre was re-used on the Second City Building. However, not far away, at the intersection of Lincoln Ave & the former Ogden Avenue, some of the busts from the Garrick showed up at this View link building.

Ogden Ave was removed form this area in the late 1960s.

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

Great pictures local 311.Mike local 629.

Broan
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
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
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
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.”

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