Vogue Theatre

3810 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60613

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LouisRugani
LouisRugani on March 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

(Tuesday, July 11, 1961)
Welterweight Fight Held In Abandoned Theater in Chicago
CHICAGO: The fight game and the movie house – a couple of businesses which have been declining since the advent of television â€" got together Monday night and came up with a successful showing.
Using the facilities of the recently shut-down Vogue Theater, promoter Joe Kellman’s boxing card, featuring former welterweight champion Virgil Akins, drew a paid crowd of 1,003 with a net gate of $2,750.
Before the show started an accordionist played old favorites in the plush-carpeted lobby. Of course, the candy counter was open and the popcorn machine was popping away.
Inside the air-conditioned theater, the carpeting was taken up because no-smoking rules don’t mean a thing to most fight fans. The ring was set on the stage and to the left and right of the ring were several rows of choice seats. The house was scaled at $5, $3 and $2. The balcony proved the most popular spot because roost of the seats were $2.
The ring announcer needed no microphone. The acoustics were tops. Next to each fighter’s stool was a funnel-like contraption for spitting. It resembled a waterflushed cuspidor found next to a dental chair.
Oh, yes, the fight. It wasn’t much. Cecil Shorts, a 22-year-old from Cleveland, was decked in the eighth by Akins, the veteran At 67 was Jerry Thomas, 29, from St. Louis.
Will promoter Kellman have another show July 24 as scheduled? –“We’ll have to count the popcorn receipts and then decide,” he laughed.

SPearce
SPearce on December 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm

My theory is if political thinking takes America back to considering WPA endeavors that neighborhoods that lost their sense of design with overlays of modernism where it didn’t fit might have a reintroduction of a sense of continuity in style by building owners allowing artisans and artists to reintroduce some continuity with the past. The streets nearby, i.e., Fremont, have been gentrified so nicely; it would be lovely to see something done with Broadway between Grace and Sheridan Rd., and even that monstrous building on Grace. Some areas along Broadway are so nice and Chicago certainly has more than its share of creative artists and artisans; that would be a nice starting point.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 6, 2008 at 11:12 am

There was a bowling alley at 828 W. Grace called Marigold Bowl until just a few years ago. It was operated by the same family for years. Particularly an older gentleman named Howard who worked both the desk & the shoe rental. He’d run from one to the other like Mr. Drucker on “Green Acres”,(General store to Postmaster).
This would have been across the street from the Marigold Arena, which is now and has been a church since at least the `70’s. A 24 hour IHOP stands guard at Broadway & Grace.

Howard talked about the Vogue Theatre and it’s proximity to the Marigold. As if it was a small town unto itself. Obviously he knew more than he led on. I wish he and it was still there, cause he surely knew of any tunnels.
Marigold was sold, torn down & replaced by a massive condo structure.

Part of what I believe was the Vogue Theatre site is the tall subsidized housing building at 810 W. Grace, whose East elevation faces Broadway. It had a fire of it’s own not too long ago. The Chateau Hotel was still at the other end last I was over there.

We bowled off & on in leagues at Marigold from 1995-2002. Never getting any better really.

The Baliwick Theatre is across from the Vogue site on Broadway. Several levels of live stage facilities that I think were built out of an old garage of some sorts. The rear stairwells were large and industrial looking. Moved some stuff in & out of there in 1990. It too had ballroom dancing even then.

SPearce
SPearce on May 7, 2008 at 9:07 pm

I visited the neighborhood a week ago and was sad to see the Chateau block on the west side pretty much broken apart, especially where the Vogue Theater was located. I made an error earlier describing the cross street at the north end of the block as Irving Park Rd. It clearly is Sheridan Rd., and the shop fronts I remembered there have been replaced by an open space children’s park. If the facades were pulled off the east side of Broadway on the Chateau block, there still might be something underneath those structures to restore some original architectural ambience to the block, it would seem.

SPearce
SPearce on April 16, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Richard G. Thank you; not a problem. I will do that.

richardg
richardg on April 16, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Sorry for my delay —wasn’t notified someone replied to my comment.
You can forward your email address to Please allow a few weeks before I email you the picture. Please subject your email as Chateau picture.

SPearce
SPearce on March 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Richard G. – I would like that. Thank you.

richardg
richardg on March 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Many thanks for sharing your neighborhood memories. I can email you an old photo of the Chateau if you’d like. If you’re interested, please indicate on this site and I’ll post my email address so you can forward yours

SPearce
SPearce on January 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

CORRECTION to the above comment about how to access the projection booth at the Vogue. It seems there was a stairwell on the right side of the foyer in front of the entry doors at the right end that led up to the booth. The steps ran up along the wall that turned right to become the corridor. I think there was some sort of stairwell or door that led up to the ballroom on the left side of the concession stand though. Best remembrance.

SPearce
SPearce on January 13, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Now that you mention it,

Although I was 10-11 years old when I attended the Vogue, and was still riding the bus up Broadway when I was 12 years old or so through this area, I always took note of the Vogue as I passed by. I think the post war or earlier generations were bonded to these movie houses because of the personal experiences of feeling catered to and that they were temples of sorts that encouraged you to release your imagination. I had grown up in California, and my town had many little “picture shows” that definitely did have architectural design to them also, and I had been tempered to being sensitive to the specific design of the interiors of individual theaters.

This was the first movie house I was ever in in Chicago. I took the Vogue in as I took in the block between Grace and Irving Park Rd on Broadway. (The Marigold Arena was of a different and later vintage.)

Now that you mention it, the name “The Chateau Apartments” comes back to me. And the word “Chateau” was used on a number of shops and other businesses along Broadway, and I think, other apt. bldgs. east or west of Broadway here. That block was constructed on the Chateau (French and semi Austrian type) theme, not excessively, but distinctly; maybe Helene told me that. Also as you turned west on Irving Park Rd. on the south side of the street were shops in the basements of the row houses; the second or third was Helene’s Studio of Dance.

I think it was said that somebody had plans to more extensively develop that neighborhood, make it an upscale gentry area, but before it could be accomplished (and they ran short of funds), neighborhoods further north outpaced it in development, bigger movie palaces were constructed farther north, and people were starting to move, truncating the development of the Vogue Theater Chateau living area. There were rowhouses and flats one block west. It had some pretensions to haute couture.

I do not remember the specific interior design of the Vogue, but some of it is coming back; it was pretty and nicely designed to follow the French theme in an understated neighborhood movie house type way. The ticket booth was in the center of the entry at the sidewalk. As one entered, I think the concession stand was more to the left facing the street. I do think it was carpeted nicely, not Granada level, but it was nice carpet because it started out to be modestly upscale. The customers were still being catered to. The foyer was not elaborate, as I recall. To the east was Lakeshore Drive and those addresses were still desirable.

There was a proper curtain on the stage, which opened and closed. The way I remember the inside of the house is that there was a break in the seats horizontally back about 8-12 rows from the front row. I think there were three segments of seating (columns front to back), if not four; so there were two interior aisles. I don’t remember if there were side aisles along the walls.

There was something in the Vogue Theater about the lamps or lighting; I am trying to remember it. In the foyer, right of the concession stand was an open space, then a little right was a corridor. On the back wall of the corridor were some sconces, and it may have been that the back wall arced in a bit as it went along, and/or there was a slight rise in the corridor as one proceeded along; not sure. The corridor was not wide. You entered the house through any of maybe three or four doors on the west. Inside along the side walls were the same type of sconces as in the corridor, if I remember correctly. I am not sure if the sconces extended along the back wall inside the house; it’s a possibility. I do think originally there was a sense of continuity to the interior Vogue Theater design to match the neighborhood French design, but they kept it understated. The Vogue was not without a quality and a theme of its own. I seem to recall that lit sconces had a yellow effect or glow.

I know that I always liked to sit in the second or third row center back from the open cross aisle. This was a little forward of perfectly centered, maybe there were 12 rows in the back half of the house, maybe more. I am not sure if there was a balcony of seats above, nor can I distinctly remember if there was a discrete stairwell in the foyer to the left of the concession stand. Not one to the right anyway.

I am unsure in my memory how tall a building the Vogue Theater itself was; whether there was a second level or enough height to accomodate a balcony inside. Maybe it was just the project booth above the back wall. For some reason, and I could be incorrect, but I think the lighting effect extended to one or more modest but pretty chandeliers over the front bank of rows. This theater was designed to hold its own in what had once been a specialty neighborhood. I don’t remember any niches and corniches present.

I do remember the entrance door to the south of the theater that led up a flight of stairs to a dancehall above. As we came out of the theater at night after dark, we would turn right toward the south to turn the corner on Grace, and you could hear voices and laughter and music above and just various sounds back then that gave the street some pedestrian life. Sometimes the windows in the dancehall were open; there was little air conditioning then, so it was a louder sound, esp. on Saturday nights.

I don’t think children were quite sure at that stage just what element held sway in the dancehall. Later, my memory is that the movie house was closed but the dance hall was still active and you could tell that as you rode past on the bus. Remember the Aragon was a famous northside ballroom, further north. And beginning in the ‘20s, if not earlier, there were other dancehalls, all proper, in some number, though not as large as the Aragon. Then in a few years, I think the dance hall fell off. I remember hearing of the fire, and seeing the structure after it was closed. I don’t think the Vogue theater came down right away, but it eventually did; I asked about it.

If you can get into the history of the neighborhood you may learn more about the Vogue Theater itself in its heyday. That is about all I can remember now.

richardg
richardg on January 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Wow, I’d forgotten all about the Marigold Arena. Unfortunately, the Vogue (Chateau) was one of the few morth side Chicago theatres I was never in. Thanks for all your detail about the neighborhood—the diner and underground passage sounded really cool. Do you remember much about the interior of the Vogue? If you do, I hope you’ll post your memories.

SPearce
SPearce on January 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I would like to record my memory of the Vogue Theater and that neighborhood before further time passes. Maybe some oldtime Chicagoans can speak to this further. BTW, I would have thought any demolition of this movie house was later than 1958 but I know it didn’t show movies much later than that.

I lived at Fremont and Grace, 1956-57, which was one block west of Broadway, and the Vogue Theater was my first experience with attending a neighborhood theater. A half block west of Broadway on Grace, on the south side of the street, was the Marigold Arena. At that time the Marigold mainly presented night, or even afternoon, wrestling matches, sometimes boxing. There was also a bowling alley along the street, if I remember correctly. In the early ‘50s some events from there were nationally televised on fledgling TV; it did have a national reputation, but it was waning for some reason – other, better venue somewhere else being developed, perhaps. Remember, with Chicago, the powers that be, and the folks who made decisions, did not necessarily obtain approval through city planning boards, and the best interests of the community did not seem to be a consideration.

Across the street on the north side of Grace was a diner, a simple but small horseshoe diner. As a schoolchild with nothing to do in the summer (no organized after school activities then), while a parent worked, but sit in our apt. and read or watch TV, I often was left money with which to eat a hamburger at the diner (sometimes also to go to a movie; but even then I was careful and didn’t like to go into movie shows alone in the afternoon; but I did attend many movies at the Vogue otherwise with schoolfriends and a parent). They showed rerun double and triple features. I remember seeing “Arsenic and Old Lace” there (and it was run a number of times; maybe they had their own copy of it), and I thought it was the most hysterically funny movie I had ever seen.

While eating lunch at the diner one day, I saw some men (business sorts) cross Grace from the Marigold arena and walk through the diner, without a by your leave, and walk through a back door, not into the kitchen, but another door, where it appeared they immediately walked down a stairwell. I believe I partly overheard, and partly was told by a waitress, that there was an underground passage, under Grace St., from the basement of the Marigold arena to the basement of the Vogue Theater. But when persons couldn’t access the passage for some reason, i.e., flooding, locked off by the city or something, there was another access by just walking through the diner, through that door and downstairs. Someone said they had been coming through a lot that week. I believe I had heard about an underground passage connected to the Vogue Theater from some other source as well.

Then the folks in the diner started chuckling about the whole business. And I learned it was told that there was supposedly a gambling den (tolerated) under the Vogue Theater, I think under the stage, and maybe even related to business across the street at Marigold Arena. It was also suggested there may have been a bowling alley down there, but I think that was across the street), and/or dressing rooms and areas where the talent waited before they went to the ring across the street, and various rooms for other business, maybe offices. I do not think there were any floors above the Vogue Theater. And I vaugely recall a story that when the Vogue was constructed, someone wanted floors above the theater, but they were not allowed to build up, so they built down.

I learned there had been some raids, the police tolerated the place, but also raided it at times. I think there had been some kind of raid recently, that had made the papers as well. Maybe the gambling had surceased for a season; or perhaps it was a decision to end it permanently; it was unclear.

I inquired as to what extent the persons managing the Vogue Theater were in some way managing what was going on in the basement. I think the comment was, they didn’t think the persons running the theater were in charge of what was going on downstairs (don’t really know what their link was to Marigold), or whether Marigold leased the underground space, but they certainly had to know of it.

There were other businesses between the Vogue and the corner of Grace St., and around the corner, all adjacent also to The Vogue – small shopkeepers mainly in what probably had been a somewhat gentrified neighborhood in the 1920s and ‘30s. Preferred housing moved north over time, but it clearly appeared to have been a nice area at one time; nicer I thought than the Uptown area which had more active focus then. Simply put, the economically active Jewish community which had probably resided there to some extent, had moved north to Uptown and farther, including to Skokie, and the economic activity was waning in the Vogue Theater neighborhood. The climate was “still;” it still had Wrigley Field a few blocks away on Waveland, but that neighborhood was just about to make its inevitable downward economic turn.

In late summer of 1957 we moved away from the area. But I would still ride the bus (I think it was No. 36 Broadway) up Broadway from where I lived near Halstead and Webster to Broadway and Irving Park, where I still took dance lessons at Helene Studio of Dance. Helene Allen (plus other aliases) had been considered a fine ballerina, I suppose, and had transferred to vaudeville, where she had done well, and then ran this dance studio. She closed her studio in 1958, I think, and moved to the west side near where she lived, and near the Nefertitti Lodge, of which she was a member, and where her students gave dance recitals.

I think locals do have this history if someone could be found from the area who took it in through neighborhood osmosis, and could retell it in detail, though it was long ago. I think the issue with the Vogue Theater though was that it was not necessarily first and only a theater for the business interests involved with it at the time, though it appeared so to those who attended movies. I do vaguely recall a dancehall; maybe there was a second story with a dance hall, or maybe the entrance to the dance hall was adjacent to the Vogue and the dancing took place either over the Vogue or the building that extended south to the corner. The Vogue was linked to other activities, and may have been a front in some small way, or later was used that way (don’t know how much).

It may actually have been that “business sorts” made a decision to abandon certain business interests in that area, and it brought the Vogue to a premature end, at least for neighborhood people to use as a theater. I know when I first arrived in 1956, there was a lot of street traffic of an evening of people going to the movies at the Vogue after work; it wasn’t passe to go to a movie there, but it started in that direction about 1957.

My recollection was that it had a nice entrance in the movie theater style, a nice enough lobby and was simple, not ornate inside. I think there was some raising of eyebrows over the fires happening when they did, but that reaction tended to often happen. Who knows? It was a neighborhood about to pass its first stage of life.

I hope this will raise other clarifying or affirming details from readers here.

Broan
Broan on May 15, 2006 at 4:40 am

The lobby was among the largest contructed at the time, at 40x100, and the lease was the largest paid for an outlying theater, at $175,000. It was also one of the largest in the area in seating at the time.

richardg
richardg on March 29, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Hi Brian, my facts were wrong in that neither the Sheridan or Vogue belonged to the Mitchell Bros. but they did both belong to the same chain; that being the Ascher Bros. Grandsons of the Ascher’s still live in the Chicago area and are sucessful business men but unfortunately know very little about their grandparents business other that they “were very wealthy and went broke during the depression”. The descendants, unfortunately, have no pictures of any of the theatres but they do have an old newspaper listing of all the theatres.

Englewood
Englewood on March 22, 2005 at 1:31 pm

On the South Side, the Englewood and the Linden were practially across the street from each other (743 & 726 W. 63rd St.), with the Stratford (715) down the street. Around the corner, the Empress (6226 So. Halsted) and the Kim (6219)were similarly placed. Honorable mention might go to the Capitol at 7941 So. Halsted and the Cosmo, 7938 So. Halsted.

The Englewood district was loaded with theaters.

Broan
Broan on March 22, 2005 at 11:35 am

There were some other close by theatres, for example the terminal and metro

Broan
Broan on March 22, 2005 at 11:34 am

Both were said to be built in 1916, and there is a listing on the American Theatre organ society page for a Chateau (Vogue) Theater. Hard to say if that’s just another mistaken identity though. Seems likely that they were one and the same. What was your source for the list of theatres in the Mitchell Bros. Chain shown in your comment on the Sheridan entry?

richardg
richardg on February 28, 2005 at 4:32 pm

Thanks Brian, I am aware that the Chateau and Vogue do have separate listings but someone informed me that they are one in the same even though the addresses are off by a few numbers. Other than downtown Chicago I can’t think of any neighborhood area where two theatres were that close together. The Hub and Alvin were close but not that close together. The Uptown and Riviera were also close together as were the Harding and Logan, the Bugg and North Center (though on different streets)were also close together. Another close proximity of two theatres was the Pantheon & Lakeside as well as the Sheridan and the Mode. Anyway I’ll do some more research and post what I’ve found out.

Broan
Broan on February 27, 2005 at 10:26 pm

The Chateau was apparently 2 doors down from the Vogue.

richardg
richardg on February 17, 2005 at 4:35 pm

Someone in the know recently told me the Vogue was originally called the Chateau. Can anyone confirm?

richardg
richardg on December 11, 2003 at 6:05 pm

I never got inside The Vogue but remember it. A relative who frequented it told me it was fairly plain inside. Memory tells me it was demolished in approximately 1958.