Wilson Avenue Theater

1050 W. Wilson Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Wilson Avenue Theater, Chicago, IL

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 main 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.

In November 2018 plans were announced to convert the building into a live music venue.

Contributed by Brian Wolf

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

bdickus2001 on January 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm

@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 on January 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

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 on January 10, 2014 at 11:41 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 3:47 pm

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

DavidZornig on November 6, 2015 at 11:52 pm

1975 photo added, photo credit William Brubeck, courtesy of the UIC Collection.

DavidZornig on January 6, 2018 at 1:42 am

Just posting this because it has the former Wilson Avenue Theater in an artist’s rendering of the proposed building next door. But the project seems to be borrowing the theater’s address.


DavidZornig on December 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Double Door music venue to reopen in the former Wilson Theater.


DavidZornig on February 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Another update, includes residential development next door.


DavidZornig on November 4, 2020 at 5:06 am

New project coming to the West of the Wilson Theatre.


DavidZornig on December 15, 2020 at 12:36 am

pdf of the project next door with elevation images etc.


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