120 South Marion Street,
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The Oak Park Theater opened in 1913, on what was then Wisconsin Street (now called Marion), which was once Oak Park’s entertainment district. Both the Warrington Opera House and the Playhouse Theatre were also on Wisconsin/Marion Street. It could seat over 1000, and featured both vaudeville acts and movies in its earliest years.
In 1919, its original owner, John Hodgson, collaborating with the Lubliner & Trinz chain, planned to tear down the six-year old theater and replace it with a massive hotel, theater and retail center, complete with a towering hotel and 5,000-plus seat theater, which would have been over twice the size of any of the largest of Chicago’s movie theaters at that time.
However, that grandiose plan fell through, and the Oak Park remained in operation, as a part of the Lubliner & Trinz circuit.
In 1930, it was remodeled in Art Deco style, and given a new name, the Lamar, for its proximity to the corner of Lake and Marion Streets. When the larger Lake Theatre opened not far away, on Lake Street in 1936, by then, that street had become the commercial center of the suburb, and the Lamar’s days of being Oak Park’s leading movie house were soon to end.
However, it remained in business for decades, only closing in the early 80s. It was torn down in 1988.
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