Colony Theater

3208 W. 59th Street,
Chicago, IL 60629

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Showing 1 - 25 of 61 comments

Broan
Broan on April 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

If Thalia Hall can finally come back, maybe the Colony can too.

Marbro1893
Marbro1893 on April 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

The currect owner has kept this theater in great condition and is just waiting for a serious person with the capital $450-$500,000 to get the building in shape along with $500,000 + in reserve to insure it could stay open.

elkayo56
elkayo56 on August 2, 2013 at 5:10 am

I saw “it’s a mad world” and “fall of the roman empire” there and used to go to a soda fountain next door to it. It should be restored. Wonderful memories.

Broan
Broan on March 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Tinseltoes, I think that must be the Drake theater, I see no other Ascher theaters opening 1925-1926 and the pictured theater has no balcony.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

No, the main floor seats were taken out years ago. I’m not sure about the balcony.

films2
films2 on November 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

This theater looks to be a sound building after looking at the pictures posted. Are the seats still there?

BillA518
BillA518 on October 15, 2011 at 8:42 am

“Later in the 80s, it was briefly used for religious stage shows.” Actually, it was about 5 months in 1988 (Feb-Jun). I worked there with several of the high school students that I was mentoring at the time. We did a couple shows per week (Wed & Sat, I think) It was basically vaudeville with a gentle Christian message. Trying to get open was pure Hell because the neighborhood fought us every step of the way – they remembered the mayhem caused by the live rock concerts in the late-70s/early-80s and didn’t want a repeat. At the time, the area was so-so – good during the day, marginal at night. My students and I usually ate at Gertie’s ice cream or the McDonalds a block North on Kedzie. There was a little diner on the opposite corner that we called ‘the greasy spoon’ but that was grossly unfair because the food and the service were always good. We got access to the building on the last day of January ‘88. It was 9 degrees colder inside the building than outside. We spent weeks replacing light bulbs, repairing the light board, getting the fire sprinkler system up & running, setting up the house sound system, restoring an old follow spot that had been left behind by one of the rock bands ('Jinx’) and a million other things. The caretaker’s name was Mike. He lived in the building. ‘Mikey’ had been there since ‘79. I know because he told us the film that was playing when he started working there was 'Alien’…and that locking up at 1 AM after watching the movie 4 times was the scariest moment of his life. I went back with a couple of the kids about 10 years later. The area had deteriorated substantially.but Mikey was still there. While we were in Gertie’s, someone broke into my car. Haven’t been back since.

Edward Jurich
Edward Jurich on September 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

In the picture of the 1984 auditorium, it shows two box-like grills on each side of the stage. That must have been added later possibly for ventilation or something. If you blow up the picture you will see some fancy plasterwork high above that curves down and ends. Originally that fancy plasterwork continued down and comprised the organ chamber front that extended out from the wall. It was quite beautiful, this link of another theater gives a general idea of how they did those theater organ chamber grills http://www.angelfire.com/al/saenger/saen9.html. I kinda had the run of the Hiway, Marquette and Colony from working during high school and continued to do some work over the years re-bulbing auditoriums and such. I was there when they started ripping out that fancy plasterwork and was a little upset how they were destroying the architecture just to make it look more modern. There used to be murals on the Colony auditorium walls which they had painted over when they painted all three theater auditoriums a dark ugly green. On the subject of the neighborhood, There were gangs even back in the 60’s. My sister still lives near 55th and Pulaski and last year I wandered around the Colony and it’s not that bad.

Broan
Broan on September 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

It looks mostly intact in this 1984 photo – http://cinematreasures.org/comments?page=1&theater_id=2534#comment-348260 – was the removed plaster just black areas?

Edward Jurich
Edward Jurich on September 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Since Hollywood is going all video and won’t be sending film prints soon means a major investment in video projection. Also, as far as restoring, when it was owned by Stern & Stern they completely demolished the deco on both sides of the stage where the organ pipe chambers were and did a sloppy flat plaster job. They covered it with a big gold curtain on both sides of the stage that became an extension of the stage curtain. I grew up in this neighborhood and saw many movies at that theater. I also have done booth restoration work and I know that a theater that size will require some major bucks to get going. The last time I was in Chicago it looked in pretty good shape on the outside but the condition of the inside could be a mess. If the roof has been leaking there could be some major plaster damage. It would be interesting if someone could get inside to just see what the condition is.

whtesoxfan56
whtesoxfan56 on September 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I certainly hope this theater could be restored one day. If the Patio and the Portage can be restored, why not both the Ramova and this theater as well?

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on September 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Edward, I’ve noticed those sockets on some old theaters, sometimes they still have bulbs in them that have turned almost black. Some theaters covered them over with mortar. The Chicago Theatre, Downtown, had them off, for I would guess at least 50 years and then about 5 years ago restored the lights. That must be a job to replace the sockets and wires behind the terra cotta. They look GREAT! The GREAT theater expert, the late Jim Rankin, told me those are called “STUD LIGHTING”. Thanks Jim, RIP.

Edward Jurich
Edward Jurich on December 7, 2010 at 11:11 am

The projection booth, including some extra rooms, at the Colony is as big as the lobby. The room is so big that the projectors hardly made any noise. Anyone ever notice that the facade of the Colony is full of light bulb sockets. The entire facade must have been illuminated at one tome.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Well, if we are calling the neighborhood around the Riviera and Aragon bad, I think it says something. That is not a bad neighborhood. I would walk around any part of that area during the day and most parts of it at night. It isn’t the Gold Coast but it is far from unsafe, certainly not a ghetto. I haven’t been by the Colony since about ‘91. This is arguably a long time. But it was kind of like Uptown back then, not the greatest but not unsafe. I have a feeling it hasn’t changed so much that I would feel unsafe walking from the theatre to the parking lot. Once I even went to a P-Funk concert at the New Regal on 79th. It wasn’t a big deal. We parked in a designated lot and there was security. I don’t think the gangs care about concert-goers. I think they have their own businesses and stick to them. The last thing they want is police scrutiny, which is what they would get if they shot up a crowd full of concert-goers. Only a crazy person would do that, and I am here to tell you that there are crazy people in every part of Chicagoland: city, suburbs, rich, poor. The biggest potential enemy I see here is the local resident group. They might get annoyed very quickly with a bunch of litter and drunk people.

danj
danj on July 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

i would love to see those bulbs lit up again!i don’t know what it is about the southwest side, like a stigma.the gangs are no different than north side garbage. i think englewood is what puts that scare into people. east of kedzie on 59th st. look at the MUSIC BOX,they show retro and foreign fims. a friend of mine is the gm of the metro which has some the the best concerts in chicago. some of the old decor hints of its grand past.that area around cubs park is about as congested as it gets.let alone during a game. yet the metro draws them in every night.i think if you can capture the same type people and lure them south, you might have a shot.

jimmyvalentine
jimmyvalentine on July 20, 2010 at 7:02 am

If you never plant a seed nothing will grow. Bad hoods have been turned around before. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to have the balls to take a huge gamble. I have a bunch of other projects making demands on my time right now, but i will be investigating acquiring the Colony this winter. Till then, Lates…

Jimmy valentine

http://www.jimmyvalentine.biz

VintageBob
VintageBob on July 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Tim, it’s all well and fine to wax nostalgic and hope to save an old favorite, but it’s also unrealistic to expect something good to come of it. I lived there, and I left. I’ve passed through there many times in recent months. It’s the ghetto. Violent crime rates in the area around the Colony Theater are 4 times higher than the Chicago average, and property crimes are also almost 4 times higher. You’d need to hire armed security on a 24/7 basis to keep the gangs under control, and even then shootings would be likely. Mr. Valentine is, of course, free to do whatever he likes with his money. Some of us are simply warning him as to the reality of the risk he’s taking.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on July 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm

As I’ve mentioned up above, there are many successful venues in bad areas. The Riviera and Aragon Ballroom are in bad areas and, yet, people go to them. The Congress Theatre is in a bad area and, yet, people go there to watch concerts. There was once a time when Wrigley Field was in a bad area and, yet, people went there to see Cubs games (of course, I’m talking 40 some years ago). Now, we Cinema Treasures fans can do one or the other: we could sulk about how bad an area is and let a wonderful theatre just sit there and rot; or, we could support Mr. Valentine and encourage him to re-open the Colony Theatre if he wants to, and turn it into a successful concert venue. If there’s a concert there that people want to see, they will park their cars in the lot next to the theatre and go. Of course, they won’t roam around that area late at night, but hopefully they’ll have a wonderful experience at the Colony.

danj
danj on July 19, 2010 at 12:23 pm

i woulld like to comment on vintage bob whom has a valid point on investing in that neighborhood.i just moved from 58th and st louis 2 years ago.the area is infested with gangs and overcrowded housing and schools.however,if you look at some north side movie stage houses UPTOWN,ARAGON,chicago and riviera just a few i can think of that seem to still hold concerts to this day, that are in very bad areas.i’m not sure all still are open. i remember seeing JAWS @the colony and THE EXCORCIST @ the marquette. i think they use to run those movies for weeks on end. marquette would have those great C. LEE dracula HAMER films of the 70s. J@T GYROS was a treat too!

jimmyvalentine
jimmyvalentine on April 23, 2010 at 8:20 am

I appreciate the positive energy! I have a few other projects to finish up and then I can put more effort into the Colony project.
You can keep up with my goings on at http://www.jimmyvalentine.biz or http://www.hoodilidoo.com

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 23, 2010 at 12:33 am

The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan is located in a dying downtown area and yet people go there to watch concerts and movies. People go see plays and attend live shows in Rogers Park in some pretty bad areas. People walk through some bad areas to cross over the Dan Ryan to get to U.S. Cellular Field to watch the White Sox. Yes, it’s a bad area, but I have hope for the Colony. I hope Mr. Valentine’s dream comes true. I miss going to the Colony. I haven’t been inside that theatre since 1981.

jimmyvalentine
jimmyvalentine on April 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

We’ll see what happens. If I go in IT WILL WORK.

VintageBob
VintageBob on April 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Jimmy, it would be a spectacularly unwise investment. The neighborhood has gone to hell. Gang-bangers and low-lifes everywhere. It’s a very depressed neighborhood now, a ghetto. You’d never make money with a theater there. Even if you could, the people who would go there would destroy the place within the first few months. Sad but unfortunately the reality of things.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on March 25, 2010 at 1:06 am

The Colony Theatre now has a Facebook page. Please become a fan.