57 W. Monroe Street,
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Firms: Postle & Fischer
Previous Names: Barbee's Loop Theatre, Barbee's Theatre
One of the more modestly-sized Loop theatres, seating 950, the Monroe Theatre’s history goes back to 1900 when the Inter-Ocean Building was constructed on the site of the Columbia Theatre, which had been destroyed in a fire. In 1919, the Inter-Ocean Building was converted into a theatre, which was originally operated by showman William S. Barbee and called Barbee’s Loop Theatre, also known as just Barbee’s Theatre, which opened on April 10, 1920.
When Barbee tried to have a stage built in the theatre, the city prevented it, because of the lack of enough emergency exits.
On September 1, 1923, the theatre was reopened by William Fox as the Monroe Theatre. In the 1930’s or 1940’s, the entrance and interior to the building was given an Art Deco style makeover.
By the 1950’s, it was showing B-grade sci-fi and horror films. In the early-1960’s, the theatre started to add adult films to its mix of programming.
The Monroe Theatre closed in May 1977 and was demolished in July 1977. Part of the Xerox Center (today known as 55W Monroe Building) is located on the site of the Monroe Theatre today.
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