Capri Cinema

64 E. Van Buren Street,
Chicago, IL 60605

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Capri Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located on Van Buren Street, near Michigan Avenue, the Steinway Hall was located in the Chicago Musical College Building, designed in 1895 by Dwight H. Perkins.

The 850-seat theatre was known as Steinway Hall for the company which built the building, but by 1900 was known as the Ziegfeld Hall. Not long after, it was renamed again, first as the Kelly and Leon Opera House, and by 1910 as the Whitney Opera House. By 1915, it was called the Central Music Hall, renamed again the Central Theatre in 1923, with variations on that name over the next several years depending on who was running it (Minturn’s Central Theatre, Barrett’s Central Theatre, Shubert’s Central Theatre).

In 1930 it was remodeled by architect Eugene Fuhrer, it became a movie house for the first time, as the Punch & Judy Theatre. In about a year, it returned to the Central Theatre name and live theatre, but in 1934 was renamed yet again, as the Sonotone Theatre. It would remain a movie house from 1934 onward. Later renamed Studio Theatre, the Ziegfeld Theatre, and finally the Capri Cinema in 1958, which it remained for the rest of its life, finally running adult films to end the once-illustrious theatre’s career.

The Capri Cinema closed in the late-1960’s, and was demolished in April 1970.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

KenC
KenC on July 19, 2006 at 1:39 am

Here is one more name for this theatre- after it was called the Studio, and before it was named the Capri cinema, it was the ZIEGFELD. It played some “ADULTS ONLY” films under this name in the mid 50s.

EMueller
EMueller on December 19, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Although this was before my time, I understand that the Sonotone theater back in the 1935-1940 period specialized in Soviet films or at least it screened a number of them. That was the period of the coming of World War II when the Soviets were also anti-Hitler, so showing Soviet films didn’t black-list you then. I’ve heard you could even buy copies of the Soviet constitution in the lobby. But it sounds like that all changed in 1940. If anybody has information on the politics of the theater back then, I’d be interested.

KenC
KenC on December 21, 2006 at 2:27 am

To EMueller: you’re right, the Sonotone theatre did screen at least a few Soviet films in the late 30s. From the Chicago Tribune movie directory on Sunday, July 3,1938: SONOTONE “It’s Always Cool and Comfortable” 66 E. VAN BUREN .35 to 2 p.m.—–.40 to 5:30 The Furiously Exciting Soviet Naval Drama “MEN OF THE SEA” Made with the Cooperation of the Soviet Navy and the Men of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet. And… from the Chicago Tribune movie listings on Saturday April 1, 1939: SONOTONE Late Feature at 11:15 P.M. Starts Today SERGEI EISENSTEIN’S Supreme Film Achievement “ALEXANDER NEVSKY”. Also, at the Princess (another downtown theatre) one could have seen “FRONTIER” another Soviet film, on Friday June 12, 1936.

EMueller
EMueller on December 21, 2006 at 1:42 pm

Dear KenC and all,
Thanks for the interesting information. By the way, I’ve been corrected: it was not in the lobby but on the Mezzanine in the Sonotone where the Soviet constitution and possibly other brochures were sold.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 2, 2009 at 10:08 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, January 1940:

CHICAGO-The newest Yiddish production of G.L. Motion Picture Corp., “Overture to Glory”, starring Moishe Oysher, is having its world premiere at the Sonotone. Irving Franklin is handling the picture in the Chicago territory.

lunzel
lunzel on March 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Would you have a higher res copy of this image? I need an image of Steinway Hall for a doc about the architects in this building and Dwight Perkins. Thank you.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2013 at 6:31 am

I have no idea what the original interior of this late 19th century theater looked like, but whatever style it was, the transformation of the auditorium with a severely streamlined design by architect Eugene Fuhrer in 1930 must have been a shock to anyone familiar with the house. Here is a photo illustrating an ad for the American Seating Company in the November 1, 1930, issue of Motion Picture News.

Broan
Broan on May 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm

It’s in the Photos section…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 3, 2013 at 6:36 am

A two page article about the Punch and Judy Theatre, complete with floor plans, followed by four pages of photos, appeared in the October 25, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald-World. It can be seen online at the Internet Archive (click on the + sign in the tool bar at the bottom to enlarge pages.)

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