Oak Theatre

2000 N. Western Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60647

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Oak Theatre

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The Oak Theatre opened in 1910, in the Logan Square neighborhood, as a vaudeville and movie house. It was designed by J.E.O. Pridmore. The theatre featured a balcony, and large stage, with Moorish interior decor. The exterior, of red brick, featured an elaborate terra-cotta facade in Neo-Gothic style.

The theater was remodeled in 1930 in Art Deco style by David Saul Klafter. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, it became an adult theater.

In 1992, it reopened as a concert venue. However, in 1995, it closed again, and was torn down that same year. A drive-thru bank is now located on the site of the Oak Theatre.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

HughJazz
HughJazz on September 3, 2011 at 1:33 am

By the way, www.classmates.com may help you find others from Chase school.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on May 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hey everyone. I am working on a project to document the history of adult theatres in the US. If anyone has any memories of the Oak they would be willing to share, please contact me at

HughJazz – if you see this, I’d love to talk to you. I would love to talk with some people who worked at these places. I’ve read your posts and it sounds like you have lots of stories.

OakTheater
OakTheater on May 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

My parents reopened the Oak Theater in the 90’s. I have few memories of hanging out in the office during some of the shows. I will never forget running around that place in between shows and the way my voice echoed throughout the empty theater.

Most of you never noticed the floor when the theater was filled up to capacity but i remember the giant Oak Theater logo painted on the floor. My parents had a difficult time operating the Oak Theater and they had no choice but to close it.

It is a shame that it was replaced by a bank. A building with some much history and a theater that many hold dear to their heart to this day. If my parents still had it today, i would definitely be involved with operating it. I know there is a photo album somewhere. I will have to dig this up and share it.

walterbrzeski
walterbrzeski on July 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

@Oak Theater:

I’m putting a gift together for someone of ‘The Oak’ and I would love to use any photos you have..I posted a piece I had drawn of ‘The Oak’ to use as the centerpiece of the gift. And, I found some photos here and online. But, I would love to have more.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 29, 2012 at 7:22 am

I remember going by on the El and seeing XXX on the marquee. Later I remember going by on the El and seeing concerts on the marquee. Then once I went by on the El and it was gone. Maybe it’s too bad the Oak couldn’t have hung on a few more years. I’ve heard that smaller concert venues are making money these days.

matthew1964
matthew1964 on July 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

THe Oak,,OMG,, I REMEMBER IT WELL,,I FIRST WENT TO THE OAK,,IN FEB,1982 THATS WHEN I TURNED 18 ,ON THE MARQUIE IT SAID HAD TO BE 18 TO ENTER,,SO ME AND A FRIEND FROM HIGHSCHOOL ,, DECIDED WE WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE OAK WAS LIKE ,,WE,VE SEEN THE PLACE A MILLION TIMES ,, BUT NEVER TRIED TO GET IN,,SO ON THE MONTH OF MY BIRTHDAY ,,WITH ID,S IN POCKET WE CREPT UP TO THE INTRANCE BEING CARE NOT TO BE SPOTTED BY ANYONE WE KNEW,SPORTING DARK,SUNGLASES (AT NIGHT),AND OUR MEMBERS ONLY JACKETS ,WE BOUGHT TICKETS ,WE DIDDNT EVEN GET ASKED FOR OUR ID,S ,,I REMEMBER THE 2 MOVIES ( THE BANGKOK CONNECTION,,AND SCRUPLES ) WE SAT IN THE 1ST ROW DECKED OUT IN NEW LEE JEANS POLO SHIRTS AND OUR JACKETS AND SUNGLASSES STILL ON ,NERVEOUS AS HELL,,, SURROUNDED BY ALL OLDER MEN IN THERE LATE 40,S AND 50,S ,,THE DANCERS WERE FUNNY ALL OLDER WOMEN ,,OLDER THAN US ,WE ONLY REMOVED THE GLASSES TO GET A GOOD LOOK AT THERE BREASTS ,THEN WE PUT THEM BACK ON,,I DONT REMEMBER IF IT WAS AT THE END OR DURING INTERMISSION,, THEY HAD SOME YOUNG PORN ACTRESS ,,THERE FOR PHOTOS ,,A LITTLE GIRL,BUT CUTE ,,FOR $5.00 SHE WOULD SIT ON YOUR LAP,HER ARM AROUND YOUR NECK,AND YOUR HAND AROUND HER WAIST,,LATER IN THE YEAR OF 1992 ,I HAD A NEW GIRLFRIEND ( WIFE NOW) WHO LIKED BAD BOY BLUES THEY WERE THERE LIVE ,,WE DIDDNT GET A CHANCE TO GO REGRETABLE,,SHORTLY AFTER THAT CLOSED DOWN,,SOMETIMES WE STILL GO TO MARGIES CANDIES ,,I WILL LOOK AT THE SMALL DRIVE THRU BANK AND REMEMBER THE OAK,VERY COOL MEMMORIES THANKS,,MATT

Broan
Broan on February 27, 2013 at 8:50 am

Looking at the demolition photos, it looks like the Oak’s interior had already been gutted – bare brick walls and open ceiling beams. Is that right?

lovinemmie
lovinemmie on April 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Well I remember Oak theatre so so well !!! Many good times there as a little girl .Used to go with my Mom and Dad with all of us children , this was their night out , and guess what the movies were silent movies ,with Valentinoand many others,I was so young could.nt read the lines in the picture , but still seemed to understand the movie. Later in my life as we grew up ,that was where I watched the first talkie. As children we would save the “nickel to go to the Saturday special of 20 cartoons and some live entertainment, dancers , magicians, even the chiquita banana , lady Carmen Miranda ,I remember seeing Roy Rogers also , and especially Cisco kid , she Miranda , was very famous and well known especially as"the chiquita Banana lady” the song she sang then. We did'nt have a TV, not until 1952. Times were tough then.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm

The address needs to be changed to 2000 N. Western. Check the 1993 flier I posted in the Photos Section. Several Chicago Tribune articles from 1992 also confirm the address.

GRANDMASTERCHUCK
GRANDMASTERCHUCK on March 30, 2014 at 12:08 am
   During the War Years 1941-1945 and before the Korean War, the Oak Theater not only showed movies of the day but had Stage Shows as well. 
                  

This was during the time between the Vaudeville and Television eras, which was called the Golden Years of Movies, but the Oak Theater and a few others in Chicago, were still trying to cater to both the movie and live entertainment audiences. I can’t remember exactly how many nights a week there was live entertainment but it wasn’t every night like the Downtown venues, the Chicago, State and Lake and the Oriental Theaters. Their stage shows ran seven days a week, several times a day and night, and drew some of the top names in Radio and Movies of the day.

   My sister and I were on the circuit that included the Oak Theater with, what was called a Song and Dance Novelty Act, and we played it several times around the end of World War Two. We also played dates on just about every Saturday night at some Elks, Moose, Eagles, VFW or American Legion Hall somewhere in the city, or one of the nearby suburbs. We also entertained at the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes Navel Training Station for the wounded coming back from overseas.
                     Then came Television and that form of entertainment quickly went away. I left Chicago in 1952 at the request of my Uncle Sam and became a United States Marine, stationed in California, never to see my home town again, but I never forgot the Oak Theater and its dressing rooms back stage, and waiting in the wings to go on. We always got a warm welcome there. 
                     It was the best of times.
                  
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