Admiral Theatre

3940 W. Lawrence Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60625

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Admiral Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Admiral opened in 1927 as a showcase for both vaudeville and motion pictures. In 1942, the theater was acquired by the Balaban & Katz chain.

By the mid-50s, the Admiral was closed due to declining business. In 1969 it reopened its doors, strangely enough, screening only cartoons, with admission for a quarter. Predictably, this venture didn’t pan out, and within a couple months, closed.

In 1971, the Admiral reopened again, this time showing pornographic films. In the late 80s, the theater received a makeover, and restored some of the original decor. About the same time, the focus of the Admiral went from films on the screen to live entertainment, and received the more proper designation as a “gentleman’s club”, as it remains today.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

GrandMogul
GrandMogul on March 29, 2007 at 3:56 pm

NEWS ITEM:
Chicago Daily News, Tuesday, January 6, 1942, p. 11, c. 4:

PORTAGE, DRAKE, ADMIRAL JOIN B. AND K. CHAIN


Three new theaters have joined the Balaban & Katz chain. All are locatd on the Northwest Side and have been under the B. & K. banner since the first of the year. They are the Portage at 4050 Milwaukee avenue, the Admiral at 3940 Lawrence avenue, and the Drake at 3548 Montrose avenue. All three are now undergoing minor operational transitions and will offer the latest cinema advantages to neighborhood audiences.


robbjibson
robbjibson on May 14, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I have seen the behind the scenes at this theatre extesnivly. I worked for a stage lighting compnay that installed some rigging and lighting to the current owners. The main auditorium plaster has been gutted, with the super structure supporting a drop ceiling type system. The stage house grid is still intact upstage of the proceienum, and many of the grid blocks are still there. The stage proper houses dressing rooms, with the “t” stage being Downstage of the proscenium. The balcony concrete is still intact and house the private DVD viewing rooms, in fact there are many of the older chairs are stored where the lighting and audio controls are. Some of the proscenium work and plaster is still there and it has a goofy way of terminting the orginal arch at the drop ceiling: the aluminum is just cut to fit around with the orginal arch being able to be seen when we were walking the high steel…
Cheers!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 7, 2007 at 7:20 pm

I’ve heard, from an employee of the Admiral, that there are still projection machines sitting way up at their station in the back of the house.

Broan
Broan on October 19, 2007 at 12:57 am

Recent photos are HERE

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm

We were here in 1991. A rare appearance by Rockford Illinois' own Ginger Lynn. (It’s important to support hometown talent ya know).

The first floor had a DVD & “toy” store behind a rather large raised ticket & cashier counter. It had turnstyles to access that area. The DVD sales area was raised up a few feet higher than the initial lobby floor.

Behind that was a giant showroom, obviously the old auditorium. Accessed by hallways on either side. Though management steered patrons to the right as recall.

You could see original plaster work up around the 2nd floor windows in the lobby. Areas that were painted purple & silver. Those windows faced Lawrence Ave. Supposedly there were video booths on the 2nd floor.

The showroom was mostly black or purple as I recall. So the stage was really the focal point. You could tell a lot of money was spent whenever they had remodeled previously.

teddy666
teddy666 on June 26, 2009 at 3:26 am

I was just helping a good friend of mine organize all of the Admiral Theater’s 35mm film prints in their projection booth (yep, the booth and projectors are still there…as are the 70+ 35mm porno films ranging from 1969 through 1983). It was a blast! There are about twenty balcony rows still there before a wall begins (which is where the balcony video booths are). Beyond that, down below, is the showroom with the strippers, which takes up a large portion of the auditorium. It’s amazing for me to write this, but when looking out of the windows in the projection booth, over the ceilings of the video booths and showrooms, at the very end of the theater in darkness is the curtains and presumabely the movie screen…completely intact! I’m going back soon to snap a few pictures which I will gladly post for anyone who is interested to see!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

My porno filter at work did not like that website. Have to wait until I get home.

Broan
Broan on December 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

Drove by yesterday, the Admiral has re-done its entrance in a more sympathetic way – more of the terra cotta is now exposed and a lot of that EFIS stucco is gone.

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