Valencia Theater

1580 Sherman Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60201

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dvarapala
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:

http://www.epl.org/adams/IMG0014.html http://www.epl.org/adams/IMG0004.html http://www.epl.org/adams/IMG0023.html

DavidZornig
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.

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.

Broan
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

GREGlookingback
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.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

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

StephenT
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,
remains

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Reactivate Notification Status.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I believe you are correct Life’s Too Short. The fallen economy likely will take “The Tower” with it. Not to mention Evanston’s rather high property taxes. NU still pays next to nothing I believe, even though they have prime lakefront & downtown land. Some of which they surely must rent out to others.
But that’s another story.
There did seem to be quite the downtown condo glut last time I was through there. Our 30th H.S. reunion was actually at Blue Moon Restaurant on Sherman, in the block South towards Lake St.

Thanks for the pictures mp775. They sure brought back memories. Smithfield Foods had a deli I often bought sandwiches from 77 -81. It then closed and became a Bennigan’s in `85 or so. There were some piano studios above Smithfield Foods. Long time (and long ago) Susie Wong’s pianist Bobby Cook had his studio up there as well.

In the second pic, you can just make out the B&G restaurant that was at the corner of Grove & Sherman. Now a trendy Bar Louie, after having a few other short term names over the years. Melbert’s was one in 1982. The Keg was the next restaurant West of that. Still is I think.

I didn’t remember the Valencia Theater being that close to Grove. I thought it was closer to Davis. But the CTA bus kind of blocks out what stood around it.
Definately early 70's though. In both shots the Ford Maverick, Dodge Dart & boat-tail Buick Riviera (71-`73), all seem period correct. But the much older model CTA bus in the 1st shot though, seems almost out of place to even it’s own surroundings.

Seeing that older bus reminded me that when they filmed part of Danny Kaye’s movie “Skokie” in Evanston, they used a bus on Sherman at Lake. Completely awash in it’s own mobile lighting. Several takes were done in front of our Holiday Texaco at 1450 Sherman. Now the site of tavern Tommy Nevin’s since 1990. Fitting.
We had based our name on the Holiday Inn that was relatively new, 1974 or so, across the street. The Holiday Inn was actually home to Evanston’s very first bar.
Most restaurant’s were allowed a “bring your own” policy, but none could serve their own alcohol until 1980 or `81. The 1st liquor store, Evanston’s First, opened in 1985 on Davis St.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

I have to believe “The Tower” is dead. The credit markets are terrible, there are a huge number of units in Evanston as we speak, and at least one new development has stalled at the half-way point.

My two cents says the condo boom is over. But in the process, sleepy little Downtown Evanston was transformed into something resembling the Las Vegas Strip.

mp775
mp775 on December 28, 2008 at 8:58 pm

The marquee of the Valencia can be seen in this photo and this photo, circa 1970.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

Does anyone have a link to any pictures of the Valencia? Thanks.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on September 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm

The Rotary International building on the site of the old Valencia, was originally built as/for American Hospital Supply Corporation. They had moved I believe from smaller quarters over on Ridge Ave. North of Church St.
It was at the time a huge deal for/in Evanston. As it was only their 3rd “new high rise” by then. The State Bank building was the 1st, then The Holiday Inn (now Best Western at Lake & Sherman) & AHS.
In the early `80’s, the old Wieboldt’s building was torn down at Church & Oak Streets. For an office building for a then compnay called Shand Morahan. I don’t know who owns it now, but it
was the 4th tall building to go up though.

They relentlessly bashed at that old Wieboldt’s with a wrecking ball for weeks. It had casons that were easily 8 feet thick supporting it throughout. It was filled with escalators & glass display cases. It was sad to see that one go.
It had it’s own theatre style overhang with can lights over the sidewalk, that stretched all the way to the Chicago North Western train tracks to the East. Amazing that Marshall Field’s & Wieboldt’s only a block from each other, both sold their building’s in Evanston after so many years.

As of today, Evanston is peppered with “Stop The Tower” signs on homeowner lawns. Apparently there is yet another high rise proposed for what was once a sleepy little city.

I previously mentioned on the Varsity Theatre page, that Evanston artist Ron Crawford had once done a haunting drawing of the Valencia being torn down.

raw
raw on June 19, 2007 at 2:55 pm

The first double bill I ever saw as a kid was at the Valencia in 1964, Rhino and Flipper’s New Adventure. You entered the theater, there was a lobby and, to the right, a concession counter. Later that same summer, I saw a trailer of A Hard Day’s Night (it played down the street, at the Varsity, on a double bill with The Magic Carpet). You could barely hear the sound through all the screams and cheering.

Compared to the Varsity down the street, the Valenica seemed small. It was hardly majestic.

The Dave Clark Five made an appearance at the theater when their film, Having A Wild Weekend, opened in the summer of 1965. They made several theater appearances throughout Chicago that night. At the Valencia, one of the guys tripped on the stairs to the stage.

Oher matinees I remember seeing at The Valencia in the summers of 1964 and ‘65 include Bikini Beach, The Sons of Katie Elder and Fluffy.

In 1964, the price of admission for a child under 12 was 35 cents. By 1965 it increased to 50 cents.

Great memories for a kid.

james44
james44 on April 21, 2007 at 2:50 am

Now retired, I went to the Valencia theater innumerable times during the forties, fifties, and sixties. Once, the lobby was packed when they showed “This Gun for Hire”, which made superstars overnight of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Later, during the war years (WW2), every blonde in America wore their hair covering one eye for awhile, as shown in “The Major and the Minor”.

On two occasions, they had to turn the house lights on for awhile, while the audience was frightened and screaming: during the final scene of “Dorian Gray”, and the final scene of “Psycho.”

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Ann-Margret visited the Valencia theater while growing up in Wilmette. I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if Don Rumsfeld also attended the Valencia theater while he was growing up in Winnetka. In those days, you could get there easily on Saturdays on the North Shore Line.

On Saturdays, they used to show serials at the Valencia theater, such as the one about a sinister man, operating out of a cave in the Himalayas, maybe in Afghanistan, who was going to take over the world. His name was Osam.. (oops), his name was Fu Manchu.

SMuench
SMuench on July 1, 2006 at 3:49 am

Yes, the Valencia did show first run movies. I saw “Ben-Hur” when it premiered (1959? I was 4).

The exterior south wall was used for gigantic movie posters of upcoming premiers. I remember the one for “Cleopatra” as covering most of the unbroken wall. It was probably 2-stories tall and half the length of the theater long.

Like the Varsity and Coronet, I used to change the marquees on Thursday nights (‘71-'73). I still have the pages that I used to re-use letters from this week’s title(s) to next week’s title(s). Many were first-run movies. The Varsity didn’t get them all as there were enough premiers for all 3 theaters.

paulench
paulench on March 1, 2006 at 4:39 pm

You are right, “Life’s too short”, I confused the ceiling and courtyard decor with the neighboring Varsity Theater two blocka away. But I’m pretty sure of my recollections of the balcony, screen and King Kong.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 1, 2006 at 3:54 pm

I think Paul’s recollections above are of the Varsity. The Varsity was made up to look like an outdoor patio, with stars and such. I remember going there as a kid. The Valencia disappeared when I was something like three. So I don’t have first-hand memories. But I have been told it was not a courtyard-type place.

Amosduncan
Amosduncan on February 21, 2006 at 6:49 pm

I remember an article about the Valicia when it closed. It said Milton Berle had played there in the vaudville days; and that Ann Margret went there over and over to see “Rebel Without A Cause” (See was a student at New Treir and lived in Wilmette).
It was smaller and not as nice as the varsity, yes, they played second run and “B” movies. I saw “Fourtune Cookie” and “Born Free” on a double bill, as well as “Ben” and “Kansas City Bomber.” With the Varsity and Corenet, it was part of the Plitt Theater chain. When you bought a popcorn, it had a tear away flip and if there was a star there you got a free pass. I never saw anyone win.

Broan
Broan on September 26, 2005 at 5:06 pm

Architect was JEO Pridmore (Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1936)

paulench
paulench on January 3, 2005 at 5:35 am

I attended the B&K Valencia double features back in the mid-1950s to late-1960s. They frequently ran Hollywood reissue, Hammer horror, Tarzan adventure, and Japanese sci-fi films. I don’t recall them ever having first-run blockbuster shows – those would shown two blocks away at the B&K Varsity.

The auditorium was relatively small compared to other local venues, but it did have a balcony. The auditorium was decorated as a European (Spanish?) courtyard. The ceiling was dark blue and its lights resembled a starry night. The lobby was small but adequate. I remember noting at the time that the Valencia must have had a history of stage shows or vaudeville due to the nature of its stage front and steps leading up to the stage.

The projection angle must have been very steep (above the balcony) because I remember the semi-wide screen having a slight tilt backwards at the top, which was not very noticeable once the show started, unless one sat very close to the front.

This is where I saw the original “King Kong” during a 1958 reissue. I think it was double billed with something called “The Collossus of New York”. I saw many a Saturday program at the Valencia but King Kong stands out.