Stratford Theater

715 W. 63rd Street,
Chicago, IL 60621

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Showing 1 - 25 of 29 comments

swansroad
swansroad on December 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Sitting by the Swan Pool at the Southtown is one of my most wonderful memories as a kid…..what a theatre. I was able to see 3 double features a day at all the movie houses around 63rd and Halstead when I spent summers at my grandparents and while they were at work. I’m still looking for a good foto of the lobby of the Southtown. Great memories.

Broan
Broan on November 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Here is a 1921 view of the Stratford and Englewood.

CompassRose
CompassRose on February 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

View of the Stratford from 1961: Stratford, 1961.

Englewood
Englewood on December 10, 2009 at 1:41 am

To: thedoberman and Jan Fricke

Thedoberman,
The restaurant at 63rd and Normal Blvd. was called the Lauer Sisters Restaurant. BTW, just after the turn of the 20th century, the original Englewood Theater stood where Lauer Sisters would later have their place.

Jan,
I wrote an article for Nostalgia Digest (Summer Issue, 2008) about Bob Hope and how he got his real start at the Stratford Theater. The year, I believe was 1928 or 1929. The name of the magazine is Nostalgia DIGEST, not Magazine. They are two different publications.

thedoberman
thedoberman on November 22, 2009 at 2:08 am

All i did was shop at 63st and halstead and down town at the loop.I am probly a lot older than you but i eather took the streetcar down town or EL and with $1.00 i went to the CHICAGO THEATRE AND TO A wimpys hamburger stand and then to the STATE AND LAKE theatre and home again.Then gave my grandmother the change back.This was 1949,50,51,DAMN i never knew i could get so old.I just retired as a truck driver 9 mths ago.But i sure remember those good theatres.PHOENIX AZ only had 6 theatres in the whole damn city then.JOHN

rjfullcircle
rjfullcircle on November 22, 2009 at 12:06 am

We shopped occasionally at 63rd & Halstead. I went to Sawyer Ave. School and Gage Park High.

thedoberman
thedoberman on November 21, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Jan did you go to lewis-chapman grade school?I went there kindergarden thru grade 7B remember in those days they had grades a and b?I practically lived at 63 and halstead.All ways went with my mother to 3 sisters restaurant at normal and 63st.john(jack)I seen BAMBI at the ACE theater when it was a new movie i think it was new.In the late 40s.

rjfullcircle
rjfullcircle on November 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I just bought a Nostalgia Magazine with Bob Hope on the cover. This triggered memories for me. My mother took me to see Bob Hope at the Stratford Theatre. We also saw Abbott and Costello there, who did their hospital sketch. I wish I knew what year this happened.

thedoberman
thedoberman on August 30, 2009 at 1:49 am

I live in phx az now but when i was a kid i went to the southtown,linden,ace STRATFORD,linden all the theatres were great.I once seen DICK CONTINO and him playing the accordian at the stratford.Plus i seen ROY ROGERS AND DALE EVANS THERE IN 1950.I am 69 yrs old and i had some good memories there.I lived at 504 w 62nd st across from the libraryI moved in 1952. the doberman

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 11, 2009 at 2:43 am

Wow…walkin' around with almost 5 G’s in cash in 1927? With a cop, and still getting robbed? Sounds like Mr. Hogan got set-up.

Too bad the Stratford Theater building couldn’t have hung on long enough to be appreciated more as a neighborhood landmark. And restored to it’s former glory. The Bob Hope history alone should have prevented it’s fate.

Englewood
Englewood on November 4, 2008 at 10:41 pm

From the Southtown Economist, Wednesday, April 13, 1927:

“Held up on the street in broad daylight, J.V. Hogan, manager of the Stratford theater, had a thrilling experience Monday afternoon when he, with Officer Michael Stapleton, was faced by three armed men in front of the theater and forced to hand over $4,875 in currency and coin.”

Englewood
Englewood on October 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Interesting promotion by the Stratford Theater in May 1930. It held a “Most-Popular-Englewood-Girl” contest. The contest ran for four weeks. Ballot boxes were placed in the Stratford Theater lobby. To be a qualified contestant, you had to: 1-Live in Englewood; 2-Be between ages 17-27; 3-Be single. First prize was all-expense trip to Hollywood, with a six-week course in dancing. When the course is completed, the winner was placed with a Fanchon and Marco stage show unit under a 35-week contract.

The winner was Sharlee Fairchild, 19, 510 W. 66th Place. Runners-up were Pearl White, and Hazel Almquist.

Englewood
Englewood on April 25, 2008 at 12:29 am

Bryan Krefft,

On Jan. 26, 2005, I asked: “Was this theater (probably in its earliest days) ever known as the Chicago United Theater?” In less than an hour, you answered that both entities had the same address, 715 W. 63d St. and added “ … I wonder if it may have been an earlier, smaller theater on the site of the Stratford?”

I think I have the answer. In July 1925, the owner of the property was Chicago United Theatres, Inc. (the Cooney circuit of which you spoke). They sold a 6 ½ percent mortgage bond on the building. (It was known as the Stratford Building and Theatre and it extended down to Union Avenue. That’s a lot of real estate.) Their description of the building is as follows:

“The building contains four stores, a modern fireproof theatre, five offices and twenty-one 2 and 3 room apartments. The theatre is five stories in height … ” In addition, the property [in 1925] was appraised at $1.275 million.

The point is: they shared the same address because the Cooney organization probably had their office (or one of their offices) in the Stratford Building.

What do you think?

Englewood
Englewood on March 8, 2008 at 3:58 am

The following news short from the Chicago Tribune of January 29, 1932

“DIES WHILE AT MOVIE”

“Louis Bierman, 45 years old, 7137 South Seeley avenue, died yesterday in his seat at the Stratford Theater, 715 West 63d Street, while watching a motion picture.”

Englewood
Englewood on December 25, 2007 at 9:44 pm

You’re correct. It became a storefront church about 1958, I think. It’s since been demolished for a parking lot.

boilerbob7
boilerbob7 on December 25, 2007 at 7:55 pm

It seems to me that as the neighborhood changed, the Stratford became a storefront church.

Englewood
Englewood on October 8, 2007 at 11:49 pm

From the “Vaudeville” column of the Chicago Tribune of November 8, 1942:

Stratford theater. [Today only].
Dick [Two Ton] Baker, singer, heads the
week end bill of five vaudeville acts.

CHICTH74
CHICTH74 on March 28, 2007 at 1:29 am

Was the Straford replaced by a parking lot?
For the shopping center.

CharlesZirino
CharlesZirino on January 29, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Barb-
Oh how well I remember that candy store. He had the best popcorn.It was a narrow little store with the popper in the front window. the doorman at the Stratford would give us a ticket stub so we could go out to get his popcorn and then re enter. I leaned on the popper one time and really burnt my arm.Nick rubbed butter on it and wrapped it up. he was such a nice person.I think the doorman new his was the better popcorn because he never hasseled us when we asked to go out.Another great place was the KarmelKorn in the middle of the block for the people with the sweet tooth. Im seventy and that is one great memory.Thanks!
Chuckie Z.

sparkyjoe
sparkyjoe on October 23, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Brian-
Thanks for responding. I have checked this site and don’t see anything.I did email what I am looking for. If anyone else has any contacts or information please share.

sparkyjoe
sparkyjoe on October 23, 2006 at 12:52 am

My grandfather Nicholas Vasilatos owned a candy store right next to the Stratford Theater in the late 1930’s until the late 1940’s. I believe it was called the Stratford Candy Store. My mother still talks about all the wonderful memories from that time. Does anyone know of any pitures which may show the theater and the candy store. So far the image above is the only one I could find. I sure would love to have a copy to give to my mom as a gift. It would bring tears to her eyes and make a fantastic historical memory for my family to share for years to come.

Broan
Broan on November 28, 2005 at 11:02 pm

A list of building permits in the Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1919 p22 lists W.W. Ahlschlager, famed future architect of the Roxy, as the architect of the theater to be erected on the Chicago United site.

CharlesZirino
CharlesZirino on October 4, 2005 at 12:20 am

If you notice that the closest sign in the picture is the old Stratford drug store. it was operated by a Bill Eisenstead his wife Blanch and son Jack. We were childhood pals. Many times we went out the back door and a across the area way and entered back stage of the Stratford. We met many of the entertainers who were performing there on the stage show bills.Many were unknowns but I remember meeting Sammy Davis Jr. and the Will Masters trio.Senior Wences and his famous hand puppet.The great Gwenn the magician and the best of all the Hollywood Midgets.Animal acts, roller skaters many comedians whistlers and singers. The stratford showed a lot of Warner Bros and Universal movies while the Southtown showed many Paramount ,Columbia and Metro Golden Meyer.Both theatres had there own personalities and both went down in the late fifties. The Stratford became a revival meeting house and the Southtown became Carr’s department store. What a shame that The generations That came after never had a chance to enjoy the excitement and splendor of these old movie houses Which made the Englewood area one of the finest in the city of Chicago!!
Chuckie Z.

Englewood
Englewood on May 26, 2005 at 6:16 pm

Earlier this year (on a different theater), I posted a note regarding the Bob Hope/Stratford Theater connection. I wrote the following:

“At the point of repeating my earlier post about this theater: Bob Hope: During the 1920s, when he was nobody, he had just come from a booking agent’s office in the Loop, looking for work. He found none.
Hope later stated that, at that moment, he decided to give up and go back to Cleveland and go into some other line of work. As luck would have it, he ran into a fellow performer on the street who recommended that he try the West Englewood Theater at 63rd and Ashland Ave., (later to become the Ogden Theater). There, he caught a couple of weeks' work. The theater said they could really use him at their other vaudeville theater, the Stratford. He remained at the Stratford Theater for about a year as the emcee and honed his act. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve heard him state that where he really got his start was at the Stratford Theater in Chicago.”

Glad to add this tidbit to the Stratford trivia.

Broan
Broan on May 24, 2005 at 3:35 pm

“As Hope and Byrne toured, they added more comedy to the act. When Hope found that he had a knack as a master of ceremonies, the act split, and Hope was booked as an "M.C.” at the Stratford Theater in Chicago in an engagement that would be seminal to his career. A master of ceremonies is a host, the link between the performance and the audience-providing continuity between scenes or acts by telling jokes, introducing performers, and assuring that the entertainment does not stop even if delays occurred backstage. Hope was such a success as a master of ceremonies in this Chicago engagement that his initial two-week booking was extended to six months.“
-http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/bobhope/vaude.html which also features a larger version of the photo displayed here, and an ad