Wilson Avenue Theater

1050 West Wilson Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Wilson Avenue Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Wilson Avenue Theater opened July 19, 1909 as one of the first large venues in the Uptown neighborhood, showing two vaudeville performances nightly. It was designed by Henry L. Ottenheimer and built at a cost of $50,000 for the Jones, Linick, Shaefer circuit. The theater seated 600 on the floor and 300 in the balcony. The interior was described as pretty, and in buff and gold, with a mural over the proscenium, while the opening night show was not such a pretty sight.

Acts from the American Music Hall in the Loop frequently performed there. In 1919 it was converted to a bank, Fidelity Bank. Later it was the Uptown State Bank, Federal Trust and Savings Bank, and then the Bank of Chicago. It remains so today as a TCF Bank, with a mural on one side visible from the El and a trompe l'eoil mural on the other. The interior still looks like a cross between a theater and a bank.

Contributed by Brian Wolf

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Broan
Broan on June 20, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Well, it’s wrong. It was built in 1909. This is confirmed by 1909 Tribune articles stating it was to be built.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

I’m not arguing with you. I am skeptical of most of the things I read on the internet.

Broan
Broan on June 20, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Oh, I know, I just wanted to make sure it was clear for the record (this page)

Broan
Broan on November 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm

And finally, a nice view of the original facade:

WILSON AVENUE THEATER II L Ottenheimer Architect Book of the Annual Exhibition of the Chicago Architectural Club By Chicago Architectural Club

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 19, 2009 at 9:18 am

BWChicago, unfortunately the 11/10/08 link reverts back to the CT/Wilson Avenue Theater page. Is there another link perhaps?

Broan
Broan on August 16, 2011 at 7:33 am

http://uptownhistory.compassrose.org/2011/08/bank-of-chicago-wilson-ave-date-unknown.html

bdickus2001
bdickus2001 on January 18, 2013 at 7:30 am

@Broan: Unfortunately, that picture in the Book of the Annual Exhibition is not the original facade. It is merely a rendering of Ottenheimer’s concept for the theater. The actual finished building never looked like that. This is easily discernible from the condition of the extant facade.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 18, 2013 at 7:39 am

Coincidentally there is an article about the recent sale of this theater that came out today.http://www.uptownupdate.com/ www.uptownupdate.com if the link doesn’t work.

storefrontcinema
storefrontcinema on January 10, 2014 at 3:41 am

I walked though the building yesterday with the new owners. I am considering leasing the space and turning it into a small cinema. THe stone work is amazing – although years as use of bank has chopped the thing up and really, I am not sure it was ever a theater from the very start. As the basement contains a vault that is easily 500 sf.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on January 10, 2014 at 7:47 am

storefrontcinema: Let me know where I can send my resume.

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