74 W. Randolph Street,
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Firms: Burling & Adler
Previous Names: New Chicago, Grand Opera House, Cristy's Opera House, Music Hall, Olympic Theatre
The New Chicago Theatre was opened in 1873 by actor-turned-producer James H. McVicker (whose self-named theatre opened almost 20 years earlier) on the site of the mid-19th century Kingsbury Hall, which had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. The theatre was located on the corner of W. Randolph Street and N. Clark Street and seated over 1,500. The New Chicago was subsequently renamed the Grand Opera House, Cristy’s Opera House, and later, the Music Hall. In 1893, the Music Hall was remodeled and renamed the Olympic Theatre.
Its next-door neighbor was the Adler & Sullivan jewel, the Schiller (later Garrick) Theatre, and the Woods Theatre sat adjacent to the Garrick Theatre at W. Randolph Street and N. Dearborn Street. Just across from the street from the Olympic Theatre on N. Clark Street was the huge Hotel Sherman. Sadly, none of these buildings survives today.
A blaze in 1907 caused extensive damage to the Olympic Theatre, but it was soon afterward rebuilt and reopened, operated by the Shubert Brothers Theatre Company, and specializing in musical comedies. In the 1927, after the legitimate Apollo Theatre (1921) at N. Dearborn Street and W. Randolph Street was converted into the United Artists movie house, the Olympic Theatre took the Apollo name as Shubert’s Apollo Theatre.
Among the many stars to play the Apollo’s stage was Mae West, whose “Diamond Lil” was a major hit, and played there for nearly a half year during the first half of 1929, before moving to the Great Northern Hippodrome Theatre.
Surviving as a legitimate house (as well as a venue for opera, vaudeville and even minstrel shows) until August 22, 1934, when the Apollo Theatre was acquired by the always-expanding Balaban and Katz movie theater chain, and remained a movie house until closing in May of 1949.
After the Apollo Theatre closed, it was razed and replaced by a Greyhound bus terminal in 1953, which was in turn demolished in 1990 and replaced by the Chicago Title & Trust Building, which opened on the site in 1992.
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