190 N. State Street,
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Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum circuit, the State-Lake Theater opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. It later became the major venue for the RKO theater chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on Randolph Street). The theater is named for its location on the corner of State Street and Lake Street, across the street from the State and Lake “El” Station.
It was built a couple years before the Chicago Theatre, which sits just across the street from the State-Lake Theater, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago, though the State-Lake Theater was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theater became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theater switched to movies-only.
After closing in 1985, the State-Lake Theater’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.
The exterior was restored to it’s 1920s appearance (except for its marquee and ticket booth) and is still quite an impressive bookend to the Chicago Theatre across State Street.
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