450 S. State Street,
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Formerly the London Dime Museum, which was in operation from at least the early-1890’s, managed by ‘Captain’ John White, and featured a vaudeville house on the main floor and an ‘oddities’ museum on the upper floor. The building became the Gem Theater in 1908. It was renamed Gem Theater from 1908 through to 1949. In 1929, the Gem Theatre began to feature burlesque in addition to movies. It stood directly across the street from the landmark Second Leiter Building, later the first Loop home of the flagship Sears, Roebuck, & Co. department store (now located at Madison Street and State Street).
By early-1950, the name of the theater was changed to the Follies Theater, also known as the Follies Burlesque. It lasted until 1972, when the management refused to start showing hard-core pornography in order to keep in operation. It reopened in 1974 for legitimate theatrical use, but after one performance, the theater was closed again. The Follies Theater was destroyed in a fire in 1978.
Today, the enormous Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago’s main library building, is located on the site of the theater.
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