Thursday, March 9, 2023

Jeffery Theater, 1952 East 71st Street, Chicago, Illinois (1923-1997)

The Jeffery Theater was constructed in 1923 in the heart of the South Shore neighborhood’s commercial center at 71st Street between Euclid Avenue and Jeffery Boulevard.

It opened in 1924 as a vaudeville and movie house for the Cooney Brothers circuit.

The Neo-Classical style Theater could seat 1,798 and was designed by architect William P. Doerr (who also designed the Neo-Georgian style East Park Towers in Hyde Park). It had a tall vertical marquee that rose over the facade of the Theater and could be seen up and down 71st Street.

The Jeffery Theater was operated by Warner Brothers in the 1930s and 1940’, under a movies-only policy. It was later run by the Coston family, which operated South Side houses like the Beverly Theater and the Hamilton Theater.

The Jeffery Theater, a long-time South Shore landmark, was demolished in 1997, except for its facade and lobby area, which now houses a bank. A drive-up was located where the auditorium formerly stood. In September 2017, plans were proposed to demolish the remainder of the building to build a Cinegrill on the site. In August 2020, a demolition permit was released for the façade and lobby of the Jeffrey Theater and the Spencer Arms Hotel.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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