Frolic Theater

951 E. 55th Street,
Chicago, IL 60615

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Ascher Brothers Inc., Fox Circuit, Stanley-Warner Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Henry L. Newhouse

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The Frolic Theater was located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on 55th Street between South Cottage Grove and Ellis Avenues, not far from Washington Park. The theater was built for the Ascher Brothers circuit in 1915 and was designed by prolific architect Henry L. Newhouse. It was a ‘revers’ theatre which had the screen at the entrance end to the auditorium. By 1929 it was operated by Fox Theatres.

The Frolic Theater was operated by Warner Brothers Circuit Management Inc. for 1931 and later by Stanley-Warner into the 1950’s.

In 1961, the theater was closed, and has since been razed, along with the surrounding block, replaced by the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

BruceFloyd on March 5, 2004 at 4:57 am

The Frolic wasn’t located in Washington Park. It was located in Hyde Park. It had the stickiest floors in the history of theaters. I know,I grew up one block away and went to the the Frolic every Saturday when I was kid.

Bruce Floyd

dvdmike on March 6, 2006 at 6:39 am

I remember seeing the Frolic before it was was torn down. There was also a storage company down the street. This was before the entire south side of 55th Street between Cottage Grove and Ellis was razed to make way for the then-new Stagg Field.

larryfield on September 7, 2007 at 6:32 pm

The Frolic Theater was located on the south side of 55th immediately west of the corner of Ellis Ave and 55th Street. It was a little ragged but you could see a double feature for 15 cents. The movies were third run most of the time. At the corner was the Frolic Drufstore owned by Leo Spector It had a soda fountain and a few booths. One block south was the stands of Stagg Field of the University of Chicago. The first self sustained nuclear reaction took place there under the direction of the brilliant physicist Enrico Fermi. He would often stop in the drugstore for a coffe or coke. I did meet him once.

justinterested on September 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I worked at the Frolic for about 6 months, in the early mid 50’s,

rivest266 on August 13, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Renovated and reopened on December 25th, 1936. Grand opening ad posted.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 11, 2021 at 7:37 pm

This description of the Frolic, which was a reverse theater, is from an article about the Ascher Bros. circuit that appeared in The Moving Picture World on March 10, 1917:

“The ‘Frolic,’ Fifty-fifth street and Ellis avenue, is a favorite place for the students of the University of Chicago. Located within a block of the campus, it is quite handy and one can usually see a number of students at every show. This theater represents an investment of about $150,000, and it is rather unique in design. The auditorium is arranged so that on entering, the patron faces the audience instead of the screen. Few theaters in Chicago have been planned in this way. One thousand seats, upholstered in leather, are on the main floor. The interior color scheme is banana, offset in blue and gold. The lobby is finished in Italian vein marble and mosaic work. The Frolic is equipped with a large pipe organ, and two Simplex motor-driven machines are used to project the pictures. Joseph A. Schaefter is the manager.”

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