Jeffery Theater

1952 E. 71st Street,
Chicago, IL 60649

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From the archives of James Coston

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Jeffery Theater, constructed in 1923 in the heart of the South Shore neighborhood’s then-bustling commercial center, E. 71st Street between Euclid Avenue and Jeffery Boulevard, was opened a year later as a vaudeville and movie house for the Cooney Brothers circuit.

The Neo-Classical style theater could seat just under 1,800, and was designed by architect William P. Doerr (who also designed the Neo-Georgian style East Park Towers in Hyde Park). It had a tall vertical marquee which rose over the facade of the theater, and could be seen up and down 71st Street.

The Jeffery Theater was operated by Warner Brothers in the 1930’s and 1940’s, under a movies-only policy from then on. It was later run by the Coston family, which also operated such South Side houses as the Beverly Theater and the Hamilton Theater.

The Jeffery Theater, a long-time South Shore landmark, was demolished during the late-1990’s, except for its facade and lobby area, which now houses a bank. A drive-up is now located where the auditorium formerly stood.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

rjacobsonmd on July 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm

great pictures ken, thanks again.

It’s amazing how small the theaters were compared to my memories of them

I saw “The Robe” at the Jeffery.

Richard Jacobson

captain54 on May 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

my Dad owned a cocktail lounge/bar at 71st and Jeffrey, but no living family members can recall exactly where it was….it was somewhere at that intersection, and he owned it in the late 50’s/early 60’s….it was called “the Boulevard Room”….anyone with any info would be greatly appreciated.

NickCoston on June 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Great old place, Chris Demos the manager in the 60’s was one my Dad’s best friends. Big, silent Al Wartenberg. What a great, quite man. Smoked a pipe. I loved that old office, it was like a bunker. —-Nick Coston

Zol87 on July 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

According to Google Street View the facade behind where the marquee stood is still standing although the entrance has been modified.,-87.57653&spn=0.000988,0.003664&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=41.766061,-87.576655&panoid=7gPmLKf9lAUBbNhV2qjw-g&cbp=12,57.29090500000001,,0,0&photoid=po-47850825/

dmzlatnik on February 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm

We lived at 7037 Jeffery. There was a lounge next to the beauty shop which butted up to the Woolworth’s. Could that have been the Boulevard Room?

captain54 on February 18, 2012 at 11:12 pm

that’s entirely possible..I remember it being a small place with a few tables… I remember it being next to an alley. My Dad told me a story about a customer that took my Dad into that alley and threatened to shoot him.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 20, 2013 at 8:12 am

Shore Bank, which ran it’s headquarters out of the old Jeffrey Building, collapsed during the financial crisis and I believe the remains were brokered through FDIC. I saw an article in Crain’s the other day stating that the new owners plan to sell the Jeffrey Building. Shore Bank was a nice idea that was probably never going to work. Their whole business proposition was based on writing mortgages for people in distressed neighborhoods. You’d have to show me a lot of numbers before I would ever put any stock in that idea.

Menutia on February 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Silver Screens to Golden Arches… what’s left of the Jeffery will be redeveloped.

RickB on March 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Named as one of the city’s ten most endangered buildings by Preservation Chicago. A presumably recent picture is photo #5 of the slideshow that accompanies this Chicago Tribune article.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 15, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I can see the residents wanting something more upscale than McDonald’s there. But I don’t understand why the Jeffrey makes any preservation lists. Since they tore the auditorium down there isn’t much left to work with. There must be more important properties than this to focus resources on.

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