3204 W. Roosevelt Road,
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Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp.
Firms: Julius Speyer & Son
This theatre opened by 1907. At that time, the address was 1621 W. 12th Street. It was located in a row of single-story storefronts. It was owned by Sam Donian, the owner of Columbia Ice & Ice Cream Company, whose factory was to the rear of the shops. The electricity for the theatre was furnished from the factory’s private plant.
It was managed by Charlie Klaproth. In Spring, 1907, the Balaban family got its start in the theatre business when 18 year old singer Abe Balaban was hired as a fill-in. Shortly after New Year’s 1908, he was called back with his sister, Ida, to sing. Balaban learned the ins and outs of the business from Klaproth and soon after arranged for the family to rent the theatre on a one year lease with option to renew at $100 per month beginning January 11, 1908. They quickly built the business up to a success and attracted the interest of competitors. They declined to renew in January 1909 and sought to build a new, larger theatre, which would become the Circle Theatre, one block away and across the street (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). A.M. Gollos took over the lease the following year. Klaproth would go on to manage the Circle Theatre with the Balaban’s.
The Kedzie Theatre returned to the Balaban’s in 1917-1918 as David Balaban leased it, while the Central Park Theatre was opening a few blocks away.
The Kedzie Theatre closed in 1923 and returned to use as a store and after Donian’s death, a plaque was placed May 1, 1946 commemorating Balaban’s first theatre.
The building was demolished some time between 1973-1983. A McDonald’s was erected on the site in the mid-1980s, which still stands.
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A building permit for shops and factory 1617-1625 W 12th St. appears in The Economist January 12, 1907. Architects for this project were Julius Speyer & Son.