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 E. Euclid Avenue and S. 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 E. 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 33 comments)

captain54
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
Menutia on February 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

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

http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140227/south-shore-above-79th/mcdonalds-replace-urban-partnership-bank-some-neighbors-not-thrilled

RickB
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.

dvdmike
dvdmike on September 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Alisa Starks, who developed movie theaters in Lawndale and Chatham, has been brought in by Monroe Investments to revive the bank at 7054 S. Jeffery Blvd. that closed in 2014.

At a 5th Ward meeting in August 2015 at the South Shore Cultural Center, Starks presented a rough idea for the 46,000-square-foot bank that included a four-screen movie theater on the main floor, a six-lane bowling alley in the basement and a kid-friendly restaurant and play area on the second floor.

Broan
Broan on January 17, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Here is a THSA photo of the Jeffery auditorium. Here is one of the lobby.

JoeBlacula
JoeBlacula on May 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm

That is a BEAUTIFUL pic Broan! How did you find it???

aspenajax
aspenajax on July 24, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Sad story, I get up until he age of 8 on Crandon Ave and 72nd in the 60’s. Lot’s of gang crime even back then. My family belong to South Shore Country Club back them (now South Shore Cultural Center). We would get dropped off at The Jeffery for Saturday matinees and we would be shaken down for money by what I can only assume were very young gang members. South Shore has needed and still needs saving from the gangs running rampant.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on August 23, 2017 at 11:00 am

1972 photo added credit Pat Hammond.

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