Tivoli Theatre

6325 S. Cottage Grove Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60637

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WayOutWardell on December 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

*just to clarify my comment of 12/8 – the lounge next door to to the Tivoli closed sometime after ‘65. I don’t think the theater ever reopened after '63 but is still standing in the photo taken after the lounge’s closing.

WayOutWardell on December 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

I believe that the Tivoli building survived beyond 1963, as I have recently found a photo of a lounge in the Strand Hotel (next door to the theater) and in the background is the Tivoli, minus the marquee, fire escapes cut down and grand front window broken, yet not boarded up. In the photo, the lounge itself is closed and has a ‘for rent’ sign in the window; I can verify that it was open and hosting concerts at least until 1965.

Broan on January 9, 2016 at 7:36 am

Here is a lavish article on the Tivoli’s opening.

RickB on December 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Last day of operation: September 19, 1963. Last features were “The Great Escape” and “Never Let Go.”

Tower2 on December 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

The address of the Tivoli was 6325 S. Cottage Grove Ave., not 6328 as currently listed for this entry. 6328 would be on the west side of the street; the Tivoli was on the east side of the street. Photo added (page from 1928 street guide).

DavidZornig on August 10, 2015 at 7:50 pm

1927 photo added courtesy of the John Chuckman Collection.

WayOutWardell on October 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

@LTS – Good points all. I came across an article in the Defender which talks about the closing and how the manager, Ken Blewitt, would be transferred to the Maryland around the corner. The B&K business manager interviewed for the article said something to the effect of, ‘we’ve tried to give the public what they want, but they don’t want the Tivoli’.

@BobbyS – That’s the Strand Hotel, and it’s actually in the early stages of being rehabbed into residences. The windows were recently removed for the work which is why it looks the way it does.

The plan for the hotel (Zachary Taylor Davis, arch.)actually included a theater next door, tentatively called the Calumet, but after the hotel was completed in 1919, the funding dried up and the site was then sold to B&K.

On the other side of the Tivoli, the Cinderella Tea Room (the other marquee in the early theater photos) has been rehabbed and is now known as the Grand Ballroom. The exterior stud lighting is now functional and is quite something to see.

BobbyS on October 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

After touring the Regal today, I drove down Cottage Grove to 63rd st. to see what was left of the Tivoli’s next door neighbors. Looked like a hotel or apartment building just north of the Tivoil about 20 stories high that was burned right through. Windows gone and in a very sad state. Reminded me of Detroit.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 14, 2014 at 4:26 am

In response to WayOutWardell:

It costs truckloads of money to maintain one of these big places: heating, cooling, electrical bill, cleaning, taxes, building maintenance, staffing, etc. The Tivoli might not have been completely dead in the water business-wise. But Balaban & Katz was a well-run company. For what they saw coming back it might not have been worth further investment. They put considerable money into the building in the 50’s and were apparently not satisfied with the return on investment.

If the decision to close and demolish was sudden it may be because a big repair came up, like maybe a problem with the boilers, and they opted to get out instead. The building was about forty years old at the time.

I’ll give you a modern-day example. John Barleycorn, a bar which has been on Lincoln Avenue for many years, just closed. When Crain’s talked to the owner he blamed it on nearby Children’s Memorial Hospital moving downtown. He said business wasn’t in the tank. But it wasn’t nearly as lucrative as it had been with so many employees working right next door. He said it would take a few years for them to re-purpose the property and he didn’t want to wait around. He has other business ventures and decided this one wasn’t the best use of his capital.

jwhuebner on March 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Hi Folks. Does anyone recall a pizzeria near the Tivoli, in the 1950s, perhaps across the street, called Enrico’s—or something like that? I’m writing a book on a Chicago artist who did a youthful mural there—an Italian scene—c. 1952-53. He said that pizzerias were a novelty at that time. I zoomed in on that 1955 photo someone mentioned, but didn’t see anything that looked like a restaurant. Thanks.

Scott on February 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

The closing and demolition of American movie palaces was well under way by 1963. Prior to this, the Chicago Paradise razing began in 1956, the Philadelphia Mastbaum was razed in 1958, and the NYC Roxy was destroyed in 1961, among others. Those 3 would have to be on anyone’s top 10 list of all-time greatest movie palaces. There were hundreds of closings precipitated by the introduction of TV, and most of those theatres were eventually demolished. Also in 1963, Chicago’s Marbro closed (razed 1964) and the San Francisco Fox was demolished. And there were others. So I guess you could say the Tivoli went down in the early stage of the decline, but it was by no means one of the first. The Tivoli was dealing with dwindling numbers due to TV and a rapidly changing neighborhood. Which was the case for most of Chicago’s large neighborhood theatres.

WayOutWardell on February 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I’m still curious about the decision to close and demolish in so short a time; surely this is one of the first of the movie-palace era in the nation to be demolished.

Looking at periodicals of the day, it seemed to be doing good business up until the very end. A 1963 issue of Jet Magazine mentions a touring concert show and a conference having to scramble to find a new venue, as though the theater closed without much notice. A Moms Mabley LP released in 1964 was recorded at the theater in March of ‘63.

rivest266 on June 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

February 16th, 1921 grand opening ad has been posted in the photo section for this theatre.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Click here for an exterior view of the Tivoli Theatre in 1930.

WayOutWardell on April 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

In the paperwork submitted to the Landmarks Commission regarding the Portage Theater, it’s mentioned that the marquee from the Tivoli was refashioned and installed on the Portage, and that doors from the Marbro were reused there as well – I assume since they were fairly new at the time.

KenC on June 16, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Thanks, David. My first thought was some kind of candy bar or edible treat…guess not. I wonder how many youngsters showed up that day.Hope that beautiful palace was at least half full.

DavidZornig on June 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm

P.S. Given it’s the same year as the Stooges visit, a Croonola must have been the current fad.

DavidZornig on June 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Google has a “Croonola” as some type of “sub-musical instrument” in a December 1959 New Yorker article link.

KenC on June 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm

From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory dated Saturday, May 9, 1959: Redecorated-Refurbished for Your Enjoyment! TIVOLI “THE 3 STOOGES” ON OUR STAGE- IN PERSON! Open 10:30 A.M.– Show Starts 11:30 A.M. FREE “CROONOLAS” to First 500 Kiddies! (Huh?)

DavidZornig on April 22, 2009 at 5:32 am

Thanks for the Trianon info. I’ll hunt down a copy.

WayOutWardell on April 21, 2009 at 11:17 am

There is a photo of the updated Tivoli marquee visible in a different book called Chicago Jazz, by Sandor Demlinger.

WayOutWardell on April 21, 2009 at 11:16 am

I’ve only ever seen two exterior photos of the Trianon, and one of those only has the building’s marquee and radio transmission towers ever so slightly in the background (find it in Max Grinell’s book on Hyde Park). The other is a good shot taken from a building across the street that can be seen in William Kenney’s book Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History. Hope this helps.

DavidZornig on April 15, 2009 at 8:50 am

Reactivate Notification Status.

DavidZornig on February 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm

This is off topic, but if anyone has any links to exterior shots of the once nearby Trianon Ballroom, I’d appreciate them.

The only shots I can ever find on the web, are the same color drawings of the interior on postcards. But nothing of the outside. Thanks.

johncordell on January 21, 2008 at 9:11 am

I went to the Tivoli Theatre a total of three times. All in 1962 to
see their live stage shows. I remember in March of 1962 I saw the fantastic Jackie Wilson (still my all-time favorite performer.) He was even better then he was on Dick Clark or Ed Sullivan shows. The next time I went was in May to see Clyde McPhatter and Laven Baker. Also on the bill was Pigmeat Markham. The third and last time was to see Della Reese, Adam Wade and Billy Stewart. They had a poster in the lobby that Dinah Washington and Dick Gregory were to appear at the next live show, but this never happened. I believe by the end of 1962, they were closed. It was still a beautiful theatre,
but they never had the talent roster that the Regal Theatre on South Parkway had. I believe that the Tivoli was more adult oriented, and the Regal was more for younger people.