203 Vine Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Balaban, H & E
Architects: Elmer F. Behrns
Styles: French Renaissance, Spanish Colonial
Previous Names: Park Avenue Cinema
Opened in 1924, just five years earlier than Park Ridge’s more famous Pickwick Theatre, the Ridge was originally operated as part of the Chicago-based Lynch circuit. It was later taken over by the H & E Balaban chain.
Just a couple blocks away from the vaudeville house-turned-movie palace Pickwick, the Ridge sat about 1200.
Gradually, the Ridge began to play second fiddle to the larger and far more ornate Art Deco Pickwick, and closed around 1936. It very briefly reopened in 1955 as an art house called the Park Avenue Cinema, but closed within months.
Not long after closing, it was converted into an ice skating rink, which it would continue to serve as until 1973.
A condominium complex was constructed on the site of the Ridge in 1983.
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Address was 203 Vine. The theatre was closed in about 1936 after being run for a few years by the H&E Balaban Chain, which acquired it at about the same time as the Pickwick in 1933. In January 1955 the theatre briefly reopened as an arthouse called the Park Avenue Cinema but this venture lasted only a few months, undoubtedly partially due to the fact that its rear wall was to the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. In November 1956 it was converted to the Michael Kirby Ice Skating School, remaining open until 1973. The conversion wsa carried out by busting a 10 foot hole in the side of the auditorium, pumping in sand to fill in the slope, and installing refrigeration equipment on the stage. The Ridge Square Condominiums rose on the site in 1983. Parts of its polychrome Terra Cotta facade are still around.
Here is a picture of the Ridge. I’ve been wondering what this looked like for a long time!
When first announced, December 21, 1923, the facade was nearly identical to the original ‘Alamo’ mission one at the York, which was built around the same time by the same architect and client. This must have been changed during construction. Grand opening was November 15, 1924. The interior was of “French design”, with interior decorating carried out by John Paulding of Park Ridge, who hired McPherson Decorating Company of Evanston. It was topped by a large silver-leafed dome with recessed three-color lighting. It also had a Gottfried organ.
In the summer of 1966 I worked a summer job there.
I shoveled sand out of that hole that Broan speaks of.
Jim Campbell remodeled the place to open a hockey school
In those days, looking at the marquee, the store front to the left was a tobacco pipe shop and the on the rightstore was a sporting goods store selling hockey equipment also owned by Campbell.
Both business failed And shut down. I worked there for a month and my pay was my first pair of hockey gloves.