Circle Theatre

3241 W. Roosevelt Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Cooper-Kirsch Theaters

Architects: J.F. Doerr, John P. Doerr

Firms: Doerr & Doerr

Nearby Theaters

Circle Theatre, Chicago, IL USA

The Circle Theatre was the first theatre that belonged to the Balaban and Katz Corp. theatre chain. It was opened on September 6, 1909. Built by the Balaban family, it had seating in orchestra & balcony levels. It was equipped with a pipe organ and a four piece orchestra. Balaban & Katz sold the theatre in November 1919 to Louis Nath.

When the theatre first opened, it showed short features and the price of admission was just five cents.

The Circle Theatre was closed in 1945 and has since been demolished, with housing built on the site.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

xtopher1974 on January 22, 2005 at 11:24 pm

Not sure why. But that neighborhood kept the circle name. After the University of Illinois moved out it’s Navy Pier campus. (When it was called U of I, Navy Pier) it moved to the west side and was called the University of Illinois, Circle campus well into the late 80s (sometimes called Chicago Circle). I’ve only noticed that in the last 10 years they call it just plain ol' Univeristy of Illinois, Chicago.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 25, 2006 at 5:21 pm

The storefront theatre the Balabans operated prior to the Circle was called the Kedzie. It was in the same neighborhood. Everyone wanted the land parcel where the Circle was constructed at the time. But the Balabans managed to form a friendship with a judge who was involved with the situation, and won the day. Having no experience with construction, they thought that the project would be completed quickly. However, it was nine months between leaving the Kedzie and opening the Circle. Track down a copy of the book “Continuous Preformances” to read the full story of the Circle. It is interesting reading.

CHICTH74 on March 27, 2007 at 9:52 pm

From what i understand whare the CIRCLE stood it is now some kind of appt. buld or housing project maybe a condo.

0123456789 on July 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

It was built in 1909, and was Balaban and Katz’s first theatre.

Broan on November 26, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Building permit issued July 3, 1909. Client Anna Kiel (or Kiehl according to “Continuous Performances” - Estate owned the land and paid for the shell of the building while Balabans were responsible for interior and front). Architects were given as J. F. & J. P. Doerr.

In a curious coincidence, John P. Doerr’s daughter, Lilly Doerr, was a victim of the Iroquois Theater fire. William Doerr, who worked as a draftsman for his brothers, identified her body. William would later become an architect himself, designing the Jeffery Theatre. Abe Balaban recalled watching the bodies being removed after the fire, as an avid theater buff and aspiring singer.

The Circle opened Labor Day, September 6, 1909. It switched from primarily WVMA vaudeville to primarily film in 1911. The Circle is noted as damaged by fire in the 1950 Sanborn map, but aerial photos indicate that it was demolished between 1963 and 1972.

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