Devon Theatre

6225 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60660

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Opened as the Knickerbocker Theatre by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit in 1915 in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, the theater was later renamed the Devon Theatre, though it was more than two blocks away from Devon Avenue. It actually stood on Broadway.

Around the time it was renamed, the operation of the Devon Theatre was taken over by Essaness. It mostly served as a second-run house, and was quite plain. It continued to operate through the 1970’s, and later housed a church for a time. The Devon Theatre was razed in 1996 after the block was acquired by Loyola University’s expansion into Edgewater.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on August 18, 2008 at 3:12 pm

In late 1986, I rented the studio space above the Devon Theatre. It was a former ballet studio, and the horizontal ballet poles were still mounted on the walls. Which I used as closet poles. We painted the ceiling black & added some clouds after a buddy
spraying the walls got creative.

I was working in East Edgewater, and my grand plan was to create a unique loft space with limited funds. The rent was cheap. However the Devon Theatre below was already closed. The theatre portion had no heat or utilities. Hence when winter finally hit, no matter how much heat my ceiling level gas heater pumped out, the hardwood floors remained cold as ice. The pipes ultimately froze, spliting one of the sinks.
The portion of the Devon’s roof which had collapsed was behind me & above the auditorium. The ballet studio was directly over the lobby, the two long vertical windows on either side of the marquee.

6225 N. Broadway is the correct address.
There was also an occult store & mini diner next door. An apartment building was adjacent, as visible in the picture at the top of this Cinema Treasures page. Across the alley was a bar called Freddy Fuddpuckers, that then became Frankie’s. Owned by the son of an Alderman from another ward.

I believe Chicago band Nicholas Tremulas rented my space for rehearsal, after I was forced to abandon my grandiose plans. Plans that were likely fueled by too many nights across the street, at a bar ironically called Impulse.
Neighbors in the apartments next door, would bang on the walls when we made noise during our various improvements.
They probably sorely missed me once a band moved in.

Years later there was a small oil painting of the Devon’s facade, oddly hanging in Howard’s tavern beer garden down on Ontario St. I regret not purchasing it.

As a theatre, the Devon was still active as late as 80 &81. I saw “Cat People” and “Thief” there. The auditorium of the theatre had a giant round reveal in the ceiling, with it’s own recessed lighting.
It too was all painted black. Surely to help mask the water damage that still found it’s way through from the white plaster beneath. Again like the 3 Penny, buckets on some of the seats.

Beyond what was thought to be humanly possible, the Peoples Gas guy and I found evidence of people living in the basement when we went down there to activate my service. Scar-y.

The space really had potential, but the Devon Theatre’s dormant status made it unworkable except during the Summer months. When they tore it down, I got one last look at the black ceilings from the street.

The police once approached the owners about using the upstairs as a surveilance spot for one of the taverns across the street. Did I really need them up there myself, with all my intended renovations? Not really. Besides, I patronized those very bars.
I moved before it came to fruition.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I went by the site of the old Devon Theatre today on the “L” train.
The entire span of land from the neighboring McDonalds, all the way around the corner on Granville to the “L” tracks has been developed.

A massive condo project with different levels, balconies and what not stands in it’s place. Long gone with the Devon are the corner medical center, Char-Lar Lounge, Deadwood Daves & the Eagles Nest along the Granville side.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 15, 2009 at 12:45 am

Reactivate Notification Status.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

Well I guess that confirms my “Cat People” recollection. I just reread the very first post about this theater. I had no idea of the Herschell Gordon Lewis ownership/connection.
My late father briefly knew or worked with him in the `60’s. My father had worked at/with Vogue Wright, Wernecke, Joy Recording & Fred Niles Studios(now Harpo) back in the day. I wish I’d known of the connection when I lived above the Devon Theatre

Lewis is still alive. I think he released a CD called “The Eye Popping Sounds of Herschell Gordon Lewis.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Here is an undated photo from the Chicago Tribune:
http://tinyurl.com/ckomjm

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Well it is definately pre-1986. That exterior, freestanding ticket booth was gone by the time I rented the upstairs space.

snowball1
snowball1 on February 6, 2013 at 2:53 am

My sister and I used to go to the Jerri Barrington School of ballet up above this theater in the mid 80’s.

Blessedtwoday
Blessedtwoday on July 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Definitely went on a few dates there back in the day.

boilerbob7
boilerbob7 on July 15, 2014 at 11:09 pm

I still remember when they had an overnight special showing Beatles movies all night. There was thick smoke from many people toking up LOL. It was pouring rain when everyone was leaving around 6AM

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