Davis Theater

4614 N. Lincoln Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60625

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Davis Theater

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The Davis Theater opened in 1918 for the Lubliner & Trinz circuit as the Pershing Theater in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, then a predominantly German-American area of Chicago.

It originally showed first-run films, but by the 1930’s was also screening German-language films, which it continued to do into the early-1960’s, when it became a second-run house. It once sat up to 1,500 patrons in its main auditorium, but in the 1980’s, the Davis Theater was divided into four screens.

After many years of neglect, the Davis Theater was recently refurbished and its stained-glass windows, antique movie posters in the lobby, and old-fashioned vending equipment were retained.

One of its four auditoriums was given over to art and foreign films, and this small auditorium is now called the Davis Art. When threatened a couple years ago with demolition for replacement by a condominium, residents of the neighborhood surrounding the beloved Davis Theater were outraged and protested against the plans vigorously, and the theater was saved.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

CatherineDiMartino on January 18, 2008 at 5:58 am

My brother and I are going to go see NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN here next week. Has anybody been here recently? What’s this theatre like? I haven’t been here in years.

mp775 on January 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Similar to the Logan, maybe even a bit nicer. It’s NOTHING like the hellhole it was in the late 1990s.

charles1954 on August 25, 2008 at 11:40 pm

I went to the Davis theatre with my parents throughout the 1960’s when it showed German language movies. We lived near Irving Park Road & Sheridan and Sunday evenings would dress up, take the bus to the cinema, buy Germany magazines (and comics) at the store nearby and meet the German community out for entertainment. The films back then were mostly musicals. As the German movie industry declined in the 60’s, the Davis theatre initiated live music and entertainment shows. Bringing German pop stars to Chicago. These shows were always hosted by Armin Homann, who still has a regular German language radio show in Chicago. What I did not realize was, that the theatre actually has a history of showing German films going back to its earliest days! Glad the place is still up and running. I visited the neighbourhood last year and was surprised to see the Old Town School of Music using my old library as their new home!

DavidZornig on September 6, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I was only in the Davis a few times in the late `80’s. “Look Who’s Talking” is all I remember though. Maybe “976-Evil” too. I love that they’ve maintained their huge vertical signage.
I wish them continued success.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Reactivate Notification Status.

vicboda on October 5, 2009 at 10:29 am

I worked for the company that distributed Caligula and we couldn’t get anyone in Chicago to play it. Then a guy named Nick DeLuca came through with the Davis. Nick was a pleasure and we had a good run there.

JudithK on May 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

The Davis Theatre wasn’t exactly in my neighborhood (I’m from the suburbs) but when a Fred Astaire retrospective was booked there I made the pilgrimage in the early 1980s. I was there one time more, both times before the theatre was split up. It was nice, had good sight lines and sound, and was very large-sized. Nice lobby.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Noticing the Gum on the floor reminds me when we would scrape Gum from the outside entrance into National Hills Theatre.Of Course, that was in 1974 when Theatres gave a dang.

HughJazz on April 30, 2011 at 5:54 am

I lived near the Davis Theatre for 25 years ( actually, I lived in the same building where the old Bertha Theatre was located, just north of the Davis on Lincoln.) I don’t remember ever seeing a movie there, but I did take piano lessons at the Herrstrom School of Music and Dance, located in the same building on the second floor. Mrs Herrstrom was a very nice lady and a good teacher. Because my family did not own a piano, I had to practice my lessons on one of three “practice pianos” at the school. Of course I didn’t practice as much as Mrs Herrstrom wanted me to, but still I spent many hours in the Davis Building during the 1960’s.

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