Valencia Theater

1580 Sherman Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60201

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Originally called the Evanston Theater, a vaudeville-turned-movie house built in 1911, this theater was completely rebuilt in 1932 as the Valencia Theater, with increased seating for around 950 and Art Deco style decor.

The Valencia Theater was acquired by the Chicago-based Balaban & Katz chain not long after it reopened. It later was operated under B & K’s successor chains, ABC Theatres, and finally Plitt Theatres.

The Valencia Theater, one of downtown Evanston’s most popular movie houses, closed in 1975.

The Valencia Theater has since been razed, replaced in the early-1980’s by an eighteen-story building that now houses the world headquarters of Rotary International.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

StephenT on September 24, 2010 at 6:08 am

As a kid in the 50s I used to go to the Valencia for the 25 cent double feature Saturday matin̩es. With serials! The 15 cent popcorn (unbuttered Рbuttered cost a quarter) was served in cardboard boxes which, when flattened, made excellent projectiles for hurling at the screen which was a favorite past time at matin̩es.
This sport reached its apogee during a double feature that sticks in my memory: “Rock Around the Clock” AND “Don’t Knock the Rock.”
When forced by my parents to take my little sister to the movies I exacted revenge by taking the then four or five year old with me to see “Godzilla” thus instilling a terror which, 50 years later,

DavidZornig on May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Sonny & Cher appeared at the Valencia during a press junket in the `60’s.

GREGlookingback on January 4, 2012 at 8:39 am

When the Valenica closed, there was an article pointing out that it went back to Vaudville Days and Ann Margret had watched “Rebel Without A Cause” there countless times. I saw rereleases of “American Graffitti” there, as well as MASH. Also a terrible Christopher Lee Fu Manchu Movie, and the first Billy Jack movie “Born Losers.” Best of all was “Kansas City Bomber” on a double bill with “Ben.” Compared to the Varsity, it was a real little dump, but it had a great location and from the comments some real memorable events.

Broan on August 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Here is a brief view of the Valencia in a drivers training video, as found by David Zornig

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm

That video is great. It shows exactly where the theater was on the block.

DavidZornig on September 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

It’s on the Coronet page too LTS. The Coronet is at the 12:32 mark.

dvarapala on June 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I grew up about 2 blocks from “Evanston’s Perfect Sound Theater” in the late 60s/early 70s and spent many hours there. I remember seeing “Chariots of the Gods?” and “The Outer Space Connection” there, as well as several of the Charlie Brown movies. We moved away right about the time it was torn down to make way for the American Hospital Supply building (now the HQ for Rotary Intl.)

Evanston artist Walter Burt Adams painted the Valencia several times, including one very sad one of the demolition. Some of these are available on the Evanston Public Library web site:

DavidZornig on December 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm

There is a circa 1922 photo of the New Theatre around page 23 in the below link. Copy & Paste to view.

DavidZornig on October 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm

5 new images added to the Photos Section since December of 2014.

DavidZornig on November 6, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Circa 1920’s shots of the Valencia at 10:37, and a 1950’s shot at 11:09 in the below History of Evanston link on YouTube. (The Varsity is at 12:40) Film by Ron & Sydney Crawford. Narrated by Byrne Piven of Evanston’s Piven Theatre.

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