Clark Theater

11 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60602

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Clark Theater 33 N. Clark St.

Opened as the Columbia Theater in 1911 and designed by architect J. E. O. Pridmore, this 1550-seat legitimate house was remodeled in 1923 by A.H. Woods and renamed the Adelphi Theater. In 1931, the theater was turned into a movie house, and given yet another new name at this time, the Clark (it sat close to the intersection of Clark and Madison Streets).

During the 50s, 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, until it closed in the early 60s.

The Clark continued to operate into the early 70s (by then screening adult films), last operated by the Kohlberg chain. The theater 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 69 comments)

TLSLOEWS on May 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Great photos and history of the Calrk Theatre.

TLSLOEWS on May 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

That should be Clark!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Had a rough day? LOL.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on July 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Very sad news…………

castleflynn on July 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

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 4:22 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 5:05 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 8:50 pm

Saw Easy Rider there in 1969

DavidZornig on June 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

April 1960 photo added, photo credit Steve Lewandowski.

dsadowski on September 23, 2016 at 6:02 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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