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State-Lake Theatre

190 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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The last picture show at the State-Lake Theatre

Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit, the State-Lake Theatre opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. Fronted by an office building designed by architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, the auditorium was designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh. It later became the major venue for the RKO theatre chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on W. Randolph Street). The theatre is named for its location on the corner of N. State Street and W. 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 Theatre, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago Theatre, though the State-Lake Theatre was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theatre became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theatre switched to movies-only.

After closing in 1985, the State-Lake Theatre’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.

The Rapp & Rapp designed 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 N. State Street.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 152 comments)

bbollinger
bbollinger on September 16, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Saw the bubble 3d in late 60s

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 7, 2015 at 11:57 am

06/12/64-07/02/64 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 10, 2015 at 4:52 pm

December 1954 photo added, photo and caption credit Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection.

Hachidan8
Hachidan8 on April 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Dec.26th 1973. A friday. Blowing snow. Cold. I stood with my Mom in a long long line stretched around Lake st. The line inched. I could see the movie title, “The Exorcist”. Inched again. Twirling red lights.Christmas lights? No. Ambulance. Then another one. Fire? No. Sick people coming out crying and throwing up. People were cheering. Some kissing crosses on a necklace. I looked at my mom. I was not ready to see this film. All happened here from 73 to late 75…The Exorcist.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

THE EXORCIST didn’t open at the State-Lake on December 26, 1973. It started showing at the State-Lake in February, 1974. The big 1973 Christmas attraction at the State-Lake was PAPILLON.

JAlex
JAlex on September 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

The architect of the theatre was G. Albert Lansburgh.

Rapp & Rapp designed the office building which housed the theatre.

alansafe
alansafe on December 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Its not it’s

“The Rapp & Rapp designed exterior was restored to it’s 1920s appearance…”

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 26, 2018 at 2:25 pm

1953 photo added credit Bettmann/Getty.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 28, 2018 at 8:36 pm

9/12/51 photo added credit Larry Nocerino (Vintage Tribune).

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on August 20, 2018 at 6:08 pm

The State Lake Theatre showed its last movie on Thursday, June 28, 1984.

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