Crown Theatre

1605-11 W. Division Street,
Chicago, IL 60622

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jwhuebner
jwhuebner on December 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

As of 2011-12, the Pizza Hut has been demolished. Workers driving in pylons (fall 2012) uncovered a brick foundation below the surface. One construction guy told me it belonged to the old theatre. He gave me one of the bricks, part of my rapidly growing collection of bricks from demolished Wicker Park/West Town buildings. It was the guy who runs the newsstand across the street (Division & Ashland, SE corner) who first told me about the Crown.

roadside57
roadside57 on June 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Hate to get technical but, for the record, the Crown stood empty until the spring of 1963, when it was demolished. Two movies I especially remember seeing here are “Bad Day at Black Rock” in ‘55, and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” in 1957, right before my family left the old neighborhood for the suburbs.

An earlier post mentioned Palmgren’s Grill across Ashland, which had two spectacular neons to complement the bright lights of the Crown on what was otherwise a nondescript one-story corner taxpayer that is still standing. The sign for the grill itself included neon palm trees, while a rooftop sign for Miller High Life, with the Girl in the Moon on top, was especially impressive, until Miller temporarily retired the girl and removed her image sometime in the early ‘50’s.

Another one-story lunchroom and soda fountain was located on the west side of Ashland, adjacent to the Crown, with a string of billboards on its roof. The billboard closest to the intersection of Division and Ashland typically was dedicated to whatever movie was playing at the Crown.

Along with huge posters for first-run films, I remember that same corner billboard also used to promote championship fights that were shown at the Crown on closed-circuit TV. I vividly recall a display advertising the telecast of the Marciano-Archie Moore heavyweight championship fight in the fall of 1955.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 7, 2009 at 5:07 am

Reactivate notification status.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Still listed in 1960 yellow pages. Phone number was HUmblt 6-1021.

KenC
KenC on November 18, 2008 at 6:31 pm

The Crown was one of the few neighborhood theatres that opened its doors early-very early(at least on Sundays). From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory dated Sunday, August 25, 1957: CROWN COOL! OPEN 10 A.M. Science-Fiction Thrillers! “Giant Claw” & “Night the World Exploded”. The Alvin was another theatre that opened at 10 A.M. -every day- for a number of years. Also- for at least a short period of time- the Crown, Irving, Biograph, and Mode were probably owned by the same company. Each of the four theatres had a black dot to the left of the name.(October 1957).

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 18, 2008 at 1:26 pm

That’s it! Thanks yet again.

Broan
Broan on November 18, 2008 at 1:22 pm

The Chopin? That’s listed here.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Given the address and various descriptions above, the Crown would have been where the Wendy’s restaurant, it’s drive-thru and adjacent parking lot is now.
Across from the small U.S Post Office, also on the South side of Division St.
As noted above, The Crown Theatre would have faced the Manufacturers Bank which is still on the N/W corner.

The dark brick building to the left of the Crown in the 1909 photo, would be where the Pizza Hut and it’s parking lot is now at Ashland & Division. On the S/W corner.

It should also be noted that there recently was/is a small live theatre group that works out of another classic white enamel brick building, just East on Division. In the short block between Milwaukee & Ashland. Next to the old Arandas Burrito place.

Melodance
Melodance on August 30, 2007 at 11:06 am

It’s nice to see this theatre remembered. I would see it when we’d go with my mother to the bank or to see my grandmother who lived on Wood Street.

The last time I saw it was during its demolition. It was replaced by a playlot next to a YMCA. I would always look at that playlot and recall that there was once a theatre there.

I also recall the Paulina “L” tracks that would turn off Milwaukee. They were hardly used back then as the trains were already running through the subway.

GFeret
GFeret on January 3, 2007 at 7:48 am

The CROWN theatre bldg stood until 1960 (closed) I saw, then sayonara. Somehow I’ve always associated with the nearby “Paulina Street El”, and it’s skeletal stations, this ghost of a theatre in my mind.

Broan
Broan on November 28, 2005 at 10:53 am

The Crown was built by W.A. Wieboldt of department store fame. Architect was Robert C. Berlin, associated with William Bender and John Eberson. This information, and a rendering, appears in the July 18, 1909 Chicago Tribune, page I17.

Daniel
Daniel on November 2, 2005 at 8:12 am

The Crown’s balcony was called the “mezzanine” by the owners. No other Northwest Side theater this close to the Loop had a balcony. BZ is right, the marquis blazed with lights. It illuminated the entire intersection of Division, Milwaukee and Asland Avenue, and the Manufacturer’s Bank building across the street. Next door to the east was a neat restaurant, siding on Ashland Avenue, Palmer’s Grill, if memory serves, a hamburger place, great fries, long building, with booths and a sit-down counter. The marquis in the 1909 photo reads, “David Higgins – Last Performance.” A theater actor of that name and during that time is listed in several data bases in nearby Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

BarbaraZDick
BarbaraZDick on January 23, 2005 at 11:23 pm

Wow! I love the photos of the old Crown. As I remember it from the early to mid 1950s it had a MAJOR marquis with a large globe and light strands around it. I was a little kid and I remember how the lights would melt the snow under the marquis! It all seemed amazing.