Park West

322 W. Armitage Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60614

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DavidZornig on August 7, 2017 at 7:29 pm

1962 photo added credit Theresa Altgilbers.

Llbyes on May 18, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Does anyone know if The Roots played here in early/mid 1990’s?

okcray on January 6, 2017 at 2:35 am

Aaron Gold led off his Tower Ticker column on Thursday, October 18, 1973 with “Another X-rated movie house bites the dust… the Town Theater on Armitage is being remodeled into a 500-seat dinner playhouse with projected mid-December opening date”. The last ad for the Town appeared in the Tribune three days earlier (October 15, 1973) and featured a triple bill of “Venice Nightmare”, “Virginia the Maid” and “The Pick-Off”. My last two times seeing concerts at the Park West were over 20 years ago (November 1995, Cathy Richardson Band cd release party and concert; November 1997, Paula Cole and Jennifer Trynin).

rivest266 on November 14, 2016 at 12:08 am

This opened on April 14th, 1967 as the Town Underground. Its grand opening ad uploaded.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2016 at 11:56 pm

The recent opening of the Lane Court Theatre was noted in the December 9, 1916, issue of Motography:

“New Chicago House Opens

“Ascher Brothers' new Lane Court Theater in Chicago was opened to the public on Saturday, November 25, with much pomp and ceremony.

“In point of artistic decoration and novelty in construction there possibly is no other theater in Chicago resembling it.

“The arrangement throughout the house is what is generally conceded to be the most desirable. The interior of the theater is diamond shaped. The screen is placed in one corner of the building and the orchestra pit is sunk out of view, immediately under the screen. The walls are paneled and artistically finished in gold and tinted in delicate hues.

“In the center of the house there is an electrically lighted dome which will deflect a mellow light throughout the entire theater during performances, expelling much of the gloom and eyestrain now a commonly heard-of evil. Probably this will explain why a great many older people refrain from attending picture performances.

“The organ pipes are placed in two opposite corners with a large open compartment in back which will permit the organist to obtain some very beautiful musical effects. A Kimball organ has been installed, and an eight-piece orchestra will be a regular attraction. The ventilation of the theater is accomplished through a series of grates inserted into the walls near the floor.

“There will be a matinĂ©e each day, starting at 2:30 o'clock and lasting up to 5:00 o'clock; the evening performances will start at 6:30 o'clock and run until eleven. The admission prices will be: Children, five cents, adults, ten cents, and when special attractions are being shown the price will be raised to fifteen cents.”

NSALERNO on July 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Hi Marymargaret. Glad you enjoyed my comment. Do you remember the name of any of your teachers at Arnold? If you do, let me know. I lived on Armitage only for 4 years (1940-1944). We then moved west to 3617 W. Flournoy (1944-1948). Then to Phoenix, AZ. I’m 76,and I still feel a great sense of nostalgia for my Chicago days.I haven’t been back for nearly 10 years now, but whenever I do get to Chicago, I drive the length of Armitage and salute the Lane Court.

Marymargaret on July 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm

NSalerno! I went to Arnold School in early fifties and graduated from Waller in 1958. I moved to Mo. in sixties and I am 70 and I miss Chicago and my old friends and schools. I was happy to come across your message it takes me back to the good old day’s.

NSALERNO on November 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I lived at 440 W. Armitage from approximately 1938-1944. My parents owned a store-front grocery, which was demolished to make room for Augustana Hospital. I have no memories of the Lane Court re physical plant, but there are other memories which may call the theater into better focus. My mother took me to the movies every Sunday afternoon and every Tuesday night. These were the days of double features, so when I tell friends that I grew up in the dark, it is almost literally true. Tuesday night was Dish Night, that is, you were given FREE dishes if you attended that night. The dishes were Leigh Potters Maroon Emperor 22 K Gold Filigree. Until recently I still had the complete set for 12, including all the auxiliary pieces such as the sugar bowl and creamer. Two years ago I gave the set to a young married couple who will, I believe, give the set a longer life than mine. There were vaudeville acts weekly, but I do not remember on which night—quite possibly also on Tuesdays, since I saw many performers. None of these vaudeville acts were big time. I do remember that, being a child, I was generally bored by the vaudeville shows. Among the movies I am absolutely sure I saw at the Lane Court were Lassie Come Home, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Return of the Vampire, Is Everybody Happy?, and Sahara. I have many more distinct memories of the neighborhood—what is looked like, what was where, etc.—especially of Armitage from Clark St. to Arnold Elementary School, was was across the street from Waller High (now Lincoln Park High). I have searched for years for some object , some movie poster clearly marked with the name of the Lane Court, alas, without success.

HughJazz on April 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I worked here in 1971 and 72 in the box office as an Andy Frain Usher,when porn movies were being shown. Francis Frain, one of five brothers descended from THE Andy Frain, was one of the co-owners of Andy Frain Crowd Engineering, and lived in the high-rise across the street from the theatre. I would sometimes get a snack from Geja’s Cafe next door west on Armitage.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Reactivate Notification Status.

kencmcintyre on December 13, 2008 at 10:45 am

From Boxoffice magazine, May 1950:

Art Belasco, manager of the Lane Court Theater, ia now using dishes as giveaways three times a week to boost attendance.

DavidZornig on November 10, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Just a bit more about the current Park West.
There are comfy black vinyl booths that are on ascending levels from the main floor which has tables of it’s own. These booths are seemingly always reserved in advance. However they kind of force the customer to turn their heads right or left for an entire performance. Since the seating in each booth does not truly “face” the stage. Though still the best seats to have, as the view is over the heads of all below you.

Next level up has many small round tables & chairs then a main aisle. Then some railing type counters with bar stools and a wall for some standing room. Also some VIP and railings with bar stools up at an upper catwalk like level along the back walls.

Drink service is brought to the all tables via waitstaff. However one can venture up to a main bar on the East wall, or to one of a few smaller bars if they wish to purchase their own.
Potentially losing an unreserved seat seemingly wouldn’t be worth it though.

There is a giant, rotating mirrored ball that hangs from the center of the original circular recessed ceiling. Some ornate plaster work is still visible in this gently backlit recess.
It’s really the only visible part of the theater’s original interior. There are some small suspended screens that highlight upcoming events hanging from the sides.
The lobby, hallways and restrooms are all mostly black & silver and modern looking. Even though most of the decor is 20 to 30 years old, one would never know it.

Normally the acoustics are perfect in the Park West. Making it a great place and preferred choice to see anything.
It did seem however that in some instances though that required an excess of individual mics, the sound suffered at times. Not sure whether it was the house, or the particular artist’s traveling sound or crew.
It seemed as if a performer wandered, the next mic he/she got to was not ready for them. But these were isolated instances, and not the norm by any means.
I’m also surprised at the amount of non-stop talking that goes on during some performances. As if the patons actually WERE in a nightclub or something. This practice seemed to increase as the night went on.
Still a great place.

Remember, if you go to Geja’s Fondue next door first, hot oil really IS hot oil. Maybe they should offer all the “talkers” gift certificates.

DavidZornig on November 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm

My mother has told me stories of taking the street car with her brothers in the `40’s to see movies at the Lane Court Theatre.
A friend of mine was also involved in the 1977 conversion.

Since 1982, at the Park West I’ve seen The Turtles, James Brown, Nick Lowe, Bjorn Again(don’t ask), Cheap Trick/Benefit for the Chicago Homeless, John Entwistle(worst sound ever), Polyphonic Spree, Tributosaurus, Jenny Lewis, & JAM’s Christmas is for Kids auction in 2001. Along with countless other shows I can’t recall.

In 1985, a local radio personality named Brad Palmer or something had an event at the Park West that our dealership Fanning Cadillac partially sponsored.
Brad was famous for doing street slang style soap opera updates, on several radio stations under the name Clarence and other psuedonyms.
He then took that gig national after an apparent brief legal threat by one of the TV networks. Guess they gave in after realizing any publicity is good publicity.
He was close friends with one of our sales managers. I think he even had chrous girls called “The Bradettes” or another play on one of the names he used. It was a wild night that we provided cars for.

I’m not sure about the Park West’s “nightclub” status on dark nights. I’ve never known them to be open without name entertainment or a specific event.

Down the street at Armitage & Sedgwick was a place called The Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill. Where the bank is now.
Ultimate had a boxing ring with dining tables inside of it, among other sports themed stuff. Pop-a-Shot, etc. It was one of the few places in Chicago to ever have just their specific address voted dry.
After countless complaints of rowdy patrons exiting the premises and urinating on neighboring lawns.

Strangely the 4-5 other bars nearby never had that problem.

Across from the Park West was one of the original Playboy Clubs, on the upper first floor of the tall residential building. When Playboy closed, the site reopened as the Four Torches. Which had just that burning across the facade about 20 feet apart.

Around the corner on Lincoln in 1982 or so, Augustana Hospital had a newly built, multi level parking garage that also served the Park West. Strangely the hospital & lot was then sold and all torn down to construct the town home/row houses that now line Lincoln North of Armitage Ave.

Broan on December 3, 2006 at 4:37 pm

Here are my photos of this theater.

KenC on November 22, 2006 at 7:49 pm

You’re right, Brian. “DEEP THROAT” began its Chicago run on Friday, May 19, 1972, at the Admiral theatre, according to the Sun Times movie directory. It is advertised just as THROAT. When I saw the movie at the Town theatre, it was early 1973. From the Sun Times Thursday March 1, 1973 TOWN LINDA LOVELACE in the most discussed motion picture of the decade. THROAT X- RATED SPECIAL MIDNITE SHOW EVERY NIGHT! NOW IN ITS 37TH WEEK IN NEW YORK CITY!!! Admission $4.00 Matinees- $5.00 Evenings. By the way, if you go to roger, and type in deep throat, you can read his review. It’s pretty entertaining (he gave it ZERO stars).

Broan on November 6, 2006 at 3:42 am

Actually it played at the Admiral before the ban.

KenC on November 5, 2006 at 6:58 pm

I have three memories of the Park West theatre. In the late 50s- early 60s ,when it was the Lane Court, it had a policy similar to the Parkway, Mode, and DeLuxe theatres: mostly triple features; 3 or 4 changes a week. Sometime in the mid 60s it went to an ADULTS ONLY policy, and a name change: Town theatre. For a VERY short period of time, it was called the Town Underground theatre. It was at this time I made my first trip there, to see Andy Warhols “THE CHELSEA GIRLS”, one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen (although there was some funny dialogue). This was in 1967- perhaps 1968. Don’t remember much about the theatre- rather plain, with a pretty wide auditorium. My second trip was quite memorable: After being banned in Chicago for a number of months (a year?) “DEEP THROAT” had its Chicago premiere at the Town theatre. My buddy and I went on a weekday afternoon; the theatre was packed. This was sometime in 1973.So, the Park West did not come into being until 1974 -perhaps 1975. Shortly after seeing “DEEP THROAT”, the Town was raided; the police confiscated the film. I’m not sure if the Town continued operating as an adult theatre after the raid. It may very well have closed for good as a movie theatre in mid to late ‘73.

dteilers on January 29, 2006 at 2:02 pm

I remember seeing the Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Haircut 100, Simply Red, Dave Edmunds, and Grace Jones whom I got to dance with when I was in the audience. I’m probably leaving someone out too. The best time in the late ‘70s.

fmtheis on May 25, 2004 at 9:35 am

The Lane Court Theater was built by Henry Ericsson & Co, general contractors. The architect was Fred Prather (who was Henry Ericsson’s son-in-law). Other theaters in Chicago built by Henry Ericsson & Co include the Biograph, the Cort Theater, and the Roosevelt Theater.