White Front Theatre

1253 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60622

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Showing 4 comments

daveandrick on November 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm

That would be 190 seats total.

Broan on January 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There continues to be a lot of confusion over the location of the White Front. All the hard evidence I’ve seen points to the storefront that was most recently Kiss & Tell Lingerie as the location, while anecdotes point to the Foot Locker.

Known facts: -The White Front was at 909 Milwaukee under the pre-1909 numbering system, according to numerous sources -The address 909 Milwaukee translated to 1257 Milwaukee when re-numbered, according to the 1909 renumbering guide (http://www.chsmedia.org/househistory/1909snc/start.pdf) and the 1914 Sanborn Map covering this area. -This is a photo of the White Front, reprinted in a 1916 Moving Picture World

-A February 6, 1906 article in the Chicago Tribune describes a fire in a three story building at 909 Milwaukee. The White Front opened later that month at 909 Milwaukee. If the fire was in the building now occupied by Foot Locker, it would have been described as a “two story building” -The 1914 Sanborn Map illustrates the Kiss & Tell building as it currently stands, so that building dates at least to 1914 if not earlier. -The 1916 article describes a 5&10 store in the former White Front. 1916 Chicago Tribune advertisements show a O'Connor & Goldberg shoe store in the 1253, Foot Locker building.

I have used photoshop to paste the image of the White Front onto the facades of the existing buildings. The proportions of the photo fit very well into the Kiss & Tell, especially the surrounding architectural details. The photo does not align well with the Foot Locker’s proportions. This comparison is posted here in the photos section.

Finally, Byster’s was not in the Foot Locker, it was one door south. The awning still says Byster’s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2012 at 4:33 am

The Moving Picture World of July 15, 1916, had an article about Carl Laemmle’s first venture into the movie business (Google Books scan here.) There’s a 1906 photo of the White Front Theatre, but it is cropped too close to reveal whether or not it was in the building that now houses the Foot Locker store.

The building did have narrow windows on the upper floor, like the windows in the Foot Locker building, but the article says that the White Front property had a fifty foot frontage, while the Foot Locker building appears to be only half that width. If the theater was at what is now 1257 N. Milwaukee, it’s likely that it has been demolished, as the building now on the site has much wider windows on the second floor. At the very least, the entire facade was replaced.

The MPW article says that Laemmle gave up the theater when his original five-year lease ran out, at that in 1916 the building housed a five-and-ten-cent store.

Trolleyguy on February 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

My guess as to location would be the building next door at 1253, the Foot Locker store. The style of building and size conforms more closely to the era of this theater.