Guild Theatre

717 W. Sheridan Road,
Chicago, IL 60613

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Newspaper ad from Aug. 15, 1945 Chicago Herald-American showing what was playing at the Essex Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Pine Grove Theatre for the Alfred Hamburger circuit around 1913, this Lakeview neighborhood theater was located on W.Sheridan Road, between North Broadway and N. Pine Grove Avenue. In 1920, the theatre was renamed the Panorama Theatre. When it was acquired by the Essaness chain in 1929, the theatre was again renamed, this time as the Little Theatre. The name was returned to the Panorama Theatre from 1932-1939, but after that, became the Essex Theatre.

By about the late-1950’s, the Essex Theatre was known as the Guild Theatre and closed February 22, 1964. It was later demolished, and in the 1970’s, an apartment complex was constructed on the site of the theatre.

Contributed by Brian Wolf, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

richardg
richardg on January 12, 2005 at 4:37 pm

While a youngster in grammar school I stumbled upon this theatre during one of my many exploratory bicycle trips. Located on Sheridan Rd. it like the Sheridan, Lakeside, and Pantheon had no protruding marquee. It was small by my “youngster” standards. The ticket window was between the entrance doors. During this time period this neighborhood was struggling and not considered very desirable. My pre-teen mind was convinced that all I had to to make this closed theatre profitable was to operate a shuttle service from Marine Drive to the theatre. The shuttle solved all the problems of apprehension about patrons parking their cars and walking to them after the movie. I couldn’t, however, overcome the fact though that at twelve I couldn’t drive them nor did I have money to buy the theatre.

Broan
Broan on September 26, 2005 at 6:03 pm

An august 18, 1927 article says architect JEO Pridmore did an addition bringing this building to the sidewalk. Probably after this it was renamed.

Broan
Broan on December 4, 2005 at 4:46 pm

It opened as the Pine Grove Theatre for the Alfred Hamburger circuit. It was not named Panorama until 1920. It was renamed “Little” upon acquisition by Essaness in 1929. It then returned to the Panorama name from 1932-1939, and became the Essex from then on.

KenC
KenC on July 27, 2006 at 7:45 pm

If the Essex closed in the mid 50s, it reopened in the late 50s. This theatre was operating at least through May 1963 under the name GUILD. From the Chicago Sun Times movie listings, Wed. May 1, 1963: GUILD 717 W. Sheridan Rd. 549 0117 ORIGINAL UNCUT VERSIONS- Adults Only At 7:00 “LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES” “LA DOLCE VITA” At 8:55.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on September 11, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Thanks BWChicago & Bryan Krefft for clarifying the Guild/Essex locale & history. Though it apparently was not in the building I originally thought it was, I’ll have to take a look next time I’m down there.
My recollection is that Pine Grove starts/intersects off of Broadway North of Sheridan. So if the building was supposedly between the two streets, I’m not sure how or where. Unless I’m mistaken and Pine Grove is West of Broadway at that point. I always get Pine Grove & Clarendon mixed up. But I think Clarendon is East of Pine Grove.

Alan_Follett
Alan_Follett on October 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Concerning the closing date, the Guild was still open when my family moved around the corner on Pine Grove in October 1961, though I believe it had closed by the time we left the neighborhood in 1969. Offhand I can only recall seeing one film there, a re-release of /The Mouse That Roared/.

Concerning the location (see 9/11/08 comment), the theater was on the south side of Sheridan Road (which runs east-west at that point) between Broadway and Pine Grove, closer to the latter. Pine Grove is parallel to Broadway, one block east.

RickB
RickB on November 30, 2017 at 4:24 am

Last ad for the Guild in the Tribune looks like February 22, 1964, with “Lost Souls” and “Nature’s Playmates” on the screen. By April the venue was presenting live theater as the Hull House Sheridan, which appears to have lasted only through the end of that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

The Pine Grove Theatre opened in 1915, and the April 17 issue of Motography provided this effusive description of the new house:

“New Hamburger House The new Pine Grove theater on Sheridan road near Broadway, Chicago, which opened its doors under the direction of Alfred Hamburger on Saturday, represents the last word in ideal surroundings for the showing of moving pictures, and is the tenth property of this class under Hamburger direction in Chicago. No theatrical structure here represents more leisurely care in building, or more attention in detail of comfort, or cost for elegance of surroundings. Julius Born, the owner, has taken two years to materialize his ideals in this fine and substantial investment befitting the neighborhood in which it is located. The lighting effects on Sheridan Road are distinctive and a crystal kiosk in front is something new in illuminated placarding of attractions.

“The facade in vitrified brick with gray stone trim is substantial and attractive, and a sweeping cochere with bronze trimmings and glass roof to protect the broad entrance. The lobby of blocked granite, 25 feet wide and 30 feet deep, has at the left a broad green marble staircase leading to the balcony, with newel lights and all ornate metal trimmings of the balustrade in verde antique. The box office, beneath the rise of this solid architectural feature, is in green marble and is completely equipped with automatic ticket printer and bookkeeper-a most complete and ingenious mechanism. The floors are in tarazza Roman mosaic and the light fixtures are all specially designed to comport with the mission design which prevails in the interior The tint of the walls is a dull red, matching the tufted carpets, and the lofty paneled ceiling is in cool greys, giving the interior a warm yet spacious effect. The ventilating ducts and heat radiators are all sunken in the walls, and fronted with classic grills.

“The main auditorium has 400 seats, with plenty of room between rows, and side aisles on all sides. The music-pit has a fine two-manual pipe-organ and a grand piano, while masked behind the heavy ornate trellis of polished gum wood at the sides are all the strange noise producers that make pictures realistic in effect. The picture screen is unusually large, and the floral fresco decoration springing from the heavy grill work and spraying high over the proscenium furnishes a most attractive color note. On either side of the orchestra pit are unique ornaments, stone fonts throwing sheena [sic] of colored ozonated perfumes.

“The balcony is spacious, easy in its inclination and perfect in lines of sight. The projecting room, high up in front of the house, is most complete in its double equipment. The exits are so numerous that the house can be emptied in a moment. The gallery has all its side exits from inclined planes to the iron stairways that web the side walls over the wide cement walks all about the building.”

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