110 N. State Street,
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The Roosevelt Theater opened in 1921 on State Street and its main entrance was directly across from the main entrance of the famed Marshall Field’s department store.
It was designed for the Ascher Brothers circuit by C. Howard Crane and H. Kenneth Franzeim (who also worked together to design the nearby Harris and Selywn legitimate houses). Crane also redesigned the former Apollo Theatre on Randolph at Dearborn Streets around the block from the Roosevelt in 1927 as the United Artists Theatre.
The Roosevelt’s facade was Greek Revival and the faux-columns below its ornately sculpted pediment echoed those above the main entrance of the neighboring United Artists (at the time still called the Apollo Theatre). Before the later addition of a 50s era marquee, the Roosevelt’s austere exterior resembled more a bank building than a theater. This theater also contained a 3/20 Kimball theater organ.
Its first movie was Constance Talmadge in “Lessons of Love”. Unlike some of its larger, more extravagant neighbors (the Chicago, Oriental and State Lake, which were all within a block or two of the Roosevelt), it did not feature live entertainment, but was designed specifically to show movies only.
Just two years after the Roosevelt Theater opened, the ever-expanding Balaban & Katz chain acquired the theater and it became just another one of its many Loop houses for nearly half century.
By the early-1970’s, the Roosevelt Theater was showing blaxploitation and kung-fu films, and though attendance remained fairly strong throughout that decade, the Loop was no longer the entertainment mecca it was when the theater opened, and most people stayed away from the area until its revival in the early-1990’s.
The Roosevelt Theater was the first major property on its block to go, closed in 1979, little mourned by anyone, and was demolished the next year. In 1989, the entire city block (“Block 37”) on which the Roosevelt Theater once sat, in the very heart of the Loop, along with the United Artists Theater and a number of stores, restaurants, and arcades (many housed in late-19th and early-20th century buildings) was razed, in preparation for the construction of a massive office tower and retail complex to be designed by Helmut Jahn, which never came to pass due to a real estate bust.
The site of the Roosevelt Theater today is part of the Block 37 shopping center, which officially opened in 2008 after years of delays, but remains largely vacant.
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