Clark Theatre

11 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60602

Unfavorite 7 people favorited this theater

Clark Theater 33 N. Clark St.

Opened as the Columbia Theatre in 1911 and designed by architect J. E. O. Pridmore, this 1,550-seat legitimate house was remodeled in 1923 by A.H. Woods and renamed the Adelphi Theatre. In 1931, the theatre was turned into a movie house, and given yet another new name at this time, the Clark Theatre (it sat close to the intersection of N. Clark Street and W. Madison Street).

During the 1950’s, the original Blue Note jazz nightclub, which hosted such legends as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan, was located just a couple doors down from the Clark Theatre, until it closed in the early-1960’s.

The Clark Theatre continued to operate into the early-1970’s (by then screening adult films), last operated by the Kohlberg chain. The theatre was razed in 1974, along with the entire block of late 19th and early 20th century buildings it was part of.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 66 comments)

dsadowski on July 25, 2009 at 3:57 am

I found an archived interview with Bruce Trinz here:

View link

Besides giving his whole family history with the Clark, he mentions that he sold it in May 1971. He also explains how the changing nature of downtown forced him to choose between either selling the theater, or turning it into a porn house (he chose the former).

Source: IIT Technology News, Oct. 15, 1971

dsadowski on July 25, 2009 at 3:58 am

There is a beautiful picture of the Clark here:

View link

KenC on July 25, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Thanks for posting that great picture, David. It’s just how I remember the outside of the Clark!

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on July 14, 2011 at 12:34 am

Very sad news…………

castleflynn on July 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

A favorite of mine in the 60s and 70s — brought back old films such as Gunga Din and Zulu for the Clark’s trademark double features.

The Clark was easily the most interesting “experience” in the Loop: by 1971 or 72, not the safest place to watch a film — on a Friday night I once watched a pickpocket ring make the rounds of sleeping drunks, going through their pockets. When I mentioned it to the manager, he shrugged and said he couldn’t do much about it. At this point two of the pickpockets came out to the lobby and spoke to two other guys. Four heads turned my way and the manager said, “I don’t think you’re safe here right now.” But it was okay: I had already seen the movie twice.


filmaker on July 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I would love to receive Clark Theatre photos via email. I worked as Trinz assistant last years of daily double features as well as first run till theatre sold. Concerning film cans. Cans were brought into small manager office near entrance, then taken up to second floor (mezzanine) storage room next to men’s room for holding till day of show. Then the cans were hauled up to the projection booth, which was at the rear of the large, steep balcony. In spite of the large number of films run, I know of NO instance of any film cans ever being lost.
Concerning some movies being cut; distributors such as WB reissued movies at times in cut form (also B&W of color titles). And… Chicago had a rough censor board as well. The Clark NEVER cut films… they were run just as they came in.

dsadowski on July 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I have often wondered what became of the neon clock that used to hang near the emergency exit inside the Clark. You could see what time it was while the movie wwas playing. These clocks were made by the Neon Clock Co. of Chicago. The only other theater that has one of these (as far as I know) is the Tivoli in Downers Grove.

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Saw Easy Rider there in 1969

DavidZornig on June 12, 2016 at 8:54 pm

April 1960 photo added, photo credit Steve Lewandowski.

dsadowski on September 23, 2016 at 7:02 am

FYI, I have started a new web page devoted to the Clark Theater:

There are just a few things there now, but I will keep adding to it over time. Your contributions are very welcome, thanks.

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