4642 N. Sheridan Road,
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Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Essaness Theaters Corp., Lubliner & Trinz
Architects: Walter W. Ahlschlager
Styles: Italian Renaissance
The Pantheon Theatre opened its doors September 11, 1918 with Bessie Barriscale in “The White Lie”. Located in the Uptown neighborhood on N. Sheridan Road at W. Eastwood Avenue it was built for the Lubliner & Trinz chain. At the time it opened, it was said to have 3,000 seats, with 2,500 on the main floor. It was the largest movie theatre in the area until seven years later, when the nearby Uptown Theatre opened.
The Pantheon Theatre cost over $750,000 to build, and was decorated in the style of the Italian Renaissance, complete with a double organ and a 30-piece orchestra.
Within a few years, the operation of the Pantheon Theatre was taken over by Essaness on December 25, 1929, then like so many other theatres in Chicago, it was added to the always-expanding Balaban and Katz chain from December 25, 1935.
By the 1950’s, the Uptown neighborhood was no longer the entertainment mecca it was from the 1910’s through World War II, and the Pantheon Theatre’s fortunes rapidly declined, as did the rest of Uptown.
The Pantheon Theatre remained in operation into the early-1960’s. It was demolished in 1962 and was replaced by a parking lot.
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Recent comments (view all 21 comments)
Growing up on the north side of Chicago, I very much remember phone numbers starting with LO-1. Both the DeLuxe and Riviera theatres had that exchange. LO-1-5865 for the DeLuxe. These theatres, and many neighborhoods on the north side of the city, were very close to Lake Michigan, and a few very popular beaches…Foster and Montrose, to name two. Also, a very popular hotel- The Edgewater Beach – stood at Sheridan Rd. and Berwyn/ Balmoral for many years. Longbeach sounds pretty logical.
Fair enough. I was commenting with my biased west coast perspective.
From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory dated May 2,1958: HORROR SHOW on our STAGE Complete show 2-4:30-7-9:30 Dr. Sims “HOUSE of the LIVING DEAD” “DRACULA” In Person BOWERY BOYS “SPOOK CHASERS” PLUS “ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY” . Open 1:30 Pantheon 4642 Sheridan FREE PERFUME TO ALL LADIES PLUS 2 for 1 FREE PASS -TO ALL FOR A FUTURE SHOW. I wish I was there that day.
Even though I went to the Pantheon a number of times in my grade school days, I have no memory of the inside with ONE exception-the area just inside the front doors to the ticket takers station. It was VERY wide and rather deep, with a considerable number of posters and lobby cards on the walls. Anyone who remembers just inside the Royal theatre on Milwaukee Ave. will know what the Pantheon was like- very similar. My first memory of the Pantheon: A triple feature -a Western (“Run of the Arrow”?) plus “WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE” plus “WAR OF THE WORLDS”. It was a Saturday afternoon; the auditorium was packed. Since the Pantheon was once a Balaban & Katz theatre, I’m guessing the seats were plush and red- just like the Uptown and Riviera theatres- but can’t be sure. Another memory: sometime in the late 50s, the theatre closed for a short time. When it reopened, there was a sign just outside the front doors in one of the poster cases facing north. It read: You are CORDIALLY invited to the NEW PANTHEON Theatre. The sign was large;it had red and/or black letters against a white background. Just inside the front doors at the south end of the theatre was a huge arrangement of flowers, presumably to welcome the new owners/operators. Outside, the Pantheon had a flush mounted marquee(like the Lakeside) but much larger. Each of the letters of the name had dozens of light bulbs; it was a unique sight when lit and moving. The name PANTHEON and the 4 line(and perhaps 5 line) marquee faced East. The box office (quite small) was connected to the front doors. On either side was a number of entrance doors-6, 7, 8? Before the ticket seller opened the box office, she was behind a bright red curtain. My last memory of the theatre is rather sad: riding my bike past the closed theatre in the early 60s,the front doors so dirty you couldn’t see inside, and pigeons nesting above the marquee in between the letters ,and the sidewalk below a mess. Even though the theatre remained closed for months, two posters remained on display outside:on the north end of the theatre, facing Sheridan Rd.,John Wayne in “BLOOD ALLEY”; on the south end…facing north(toward Leland Ave.)“ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN”.
I worked there as an usher in the summer of 1951. The manager was Mr. Duckworth. Most of the time I was the only usher.
The pay was meager, but it was air conditioned. My hours surely violated labor laws, but I didn’t care.
We always showed double features, usually changing twice a week. After the last show I’d have to carry the incredibly heavy film canisters down from the projection booth to the outer lobby for pick-up. Fortunately, someone else got to carry the new film up the next day.
It was torn down, and closed because of the fire that was there. Here is a website to see this theatre. www.mekong.net Go all the way down click on photo sets, then clik om movie palaces, then there wil be a big thumbnail list of theatres, and there is the theatre.
To Scott and LTS: there are a number of pics of the Pantheon at the Theatre Historical Society.Two great shots of the auditorium- one is facing the stage and screen; the other facing away from the stage, showing at least 4 auditorium doors, the main floor, and the balcony. Looks very ornate with lots of detail. Two nice shots of the exterior (circa 1918). There were trees just outside the theatre; I don’t remember any in the late 50s. Many movie posters on display; on the marquee: “ASHES OF LOVE”. A fantastic looking building.
September 11th, 1918 grand opening ad uploaded in the photo section for this theatre.
(1933) B. and K. Engineers Oust the “Dead Spot”
Balaban & Katz engineers have accomplished an innovation in sound improvements for the Pantages Theater, it is reported, creating, through acoustic achievements, an advance step in talking picture reproduction. Certain “dead” spots in the Pantages proved a difficult handicap in the proper presentation of sound pictures. But after four weeks of extensive acoustical work the engineers have achieved perfect sound, it is said.
Article about the Pantheon’s awkward position in 1931
Reopened by Essaness (pronuced S & S) on December 25th, 1929 along with the Devon. Reopened by Balaban & Katz on December 25th, 1935. Grand opening ads posted.