Warrington Opera House
104 South Marion Street,
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Architects: E. E. Roberts
Previous Names: Warrington Theater
Opened in 1902 as the Warrington Opera House, this long-time Oak Park institution originally sat over 1500 in Edwardian opulence, and featured not only opera, but concerts and legitimate theater, as well.
Located in Oak Park’s original entertainment center, at Marion (then known as Wisconsin) and Lake Streets, the Warrington’s neighbors included the Oak Park Theatre (later the Lamar) and the very short-lived Playhouse (which was actually on South Boulevard, near Wisconsin Street).
The Warrington Building not only contained the theater itself, but nine stores, eleven apartments and twenty offices. It was designed by E.E. Roberts, known for his Prairie-style architecture, especially throughout the Village of Oak Park.
By the mid-20s, after featuring mainly vaudeville acts for more than a decade, the Warrington began screening movies and became the Warrington Theater.
After closing in the late 50s, it became the Mar-Lac Banquet Hall in the early 60s, and served in this capacity for another four decades, before closing at the end of 2001.
In November/December of 2004, the building was demolished and will be replaced by a condominium and retail complex.
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Recent comments (view all 4 comments)
Growing up in the area,I attended many movies in Oak Park at the Lake and Lamar theaters from the late 40’s through the early 60’s and never were any films shown at this location during that time.
It probably stopped showing films much earlier than is indicated above.
Hey, Bryan. Don’t wanna flame ya or anything. It’s just that I went to a lot of movies back then and would have loved to have had another theater to go to. The only other theater that hung on in Oak Park was the Southern over on Oak Park Ave and Harrison. Maybe that’s the one that the Historical Society is referring to.
Neat photo above. The tracks in the foreground belong to the Lake Street Elevated, which ran at ground level until 1964.
I am the former owner of Mar Lac House (Mar Lac Banquets) and have done some research concerning the Warrington Opera House. From our findings, we did not obtain a definite date, but we guessed that the Warrington closed sometime in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. It was about that time that ads for performances or movies stopped appearing in the local newspapers. Since the closing of the Warrington and the opening of Mar Lac House, we understand that the building housed several different businesses, including a miniature golf course and an electrical supply house.
I was just thinking about the Mar Lac House today, you see 33 years ago to this day in 1976 I booked my wedding reception there for March 7th, 1976. I can still remember the man’s name who we met with, I believe that it was Carl Seider and the wedding cost us only $10.50 a plate. What a difference 33 years makes! I think I may even still have the contract for the reception. Too bad it was torn down.
When I was a teenager I met Ral Donner there, he was performing in a rock and roll show there and he came running into the men’s room because the teenage girls were chasing him for autographs. He knew they wouldn’t chase him down in there. What a way to meet a celebrity. If anyone can pinpoint the date of that show and whom else may also have performed that evening I would like to know when it was. It was probably around 1967.
Loren Argall at