Covent Theater

2653 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60614

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Lubliner & Trinz, Publix Theaters Corporation

Architects: F.E. Davidson, Hal Pereira, William L. Pereira

Firms: Pereira and Pereira

Previous Names: Covent Garden Theater

Nearby Theaters

Covent Theater

The Covent Garden Theater, opened in June 1916 for the Lubliner & Trinz circuit, could originally seat 2,684, and was one of the largest theaters in the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago. It featured vaudeville and stage shows as well as motion pictures. The theater was equipped with a Hope Jones Wurlitzer 4 manual 27 ranks organ. It was taken over by the Balaban & Katz chain on December 22, 1932 and was renamed Covent Theatre. It was remodeled in 1934 by the firm of Pereira & Pereira.

The theater was part of a complex which also included the Hotel Covent, or Covent Hotel. It was closed in 1958. When the theater was demolished, only the auditorium was razed, replaced by a parking lot. The hotel remains today.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 16, 2012 at 5:31 am

The principals of Pereira & Pereira, the firm that did the 1934 remodeling of the Covent Theatre, were William Pereira and Hal Pereira. Percival Pereira was an older architect who was never a member of this firm.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm

These old Chicago hotels have been rapidly going away over the last fifteen years. My guess is the Covent building will soon either be renovated or demolished.

Broan on October 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Other articles describe the technical achievements of the Covent Garden. The balcony was noted as requiring no sight-obstructing pillars, making it one of the earlier cantilevered balconies. The capacity was 2,684, making it one of the earliest huge theaters outside the Loop. The stage was designed to hydraulically “split and raise like a jack-knife bridge revealing a broad and deep pool for the water acts. The mechanics of this arrangement, said to be more complete than that of the New York Hippodrome, was the cause of the delayed opening.” The screen drop was painted to imitate a gigantic lady’s handkerchief.

“The stage is of proportions adequate for circus performances, winter carnivals and the largest of grand opera and musical comedy spectacles. A huge water stage, patterned on the lines of the one installed at the New York Hippodrome, is included in the stage equipment for spectacular water effects. A Wurlitzer Hope-Jones orchestral organ, installed at a cost of nearly $75,000, and said to be the largest of its kind in the world with more than 2000 pipes and attachments, will be used exclusively for the interpretation of scores for the musical plays as well as for solo purposes.”

However, the programming was a bust and within two months, after experimenting with combined revues and vaudeville, it was leased to Lubliner & Trinz, becoming the largest film theater in the city despite its tiny, high-perched projection booth.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on January 10, 2016 at 12:56 pm

The Covent Garden first opened on the night of August 5th, 1916. Advertising claimed a construction cost of $500,000, and a seating capacity of 3,000.

Broan on January 10, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Not first opened, reopened. It first opened in June of that year, as previously mentioned.

In 1928, Balaban & Katz and Jones, Linick, & Shaefer took over the Covent from Lubliner & Trinz (B&K subsidiary) and closed it in order to help the struggling Diversey/Century theater nearby.

rivest266 on November 12, 2016 at 6:37 am

Reopened as Covent by B & K on December 22nd, 1932 as a discount theatre. Small grand opening ad in the photo section. Listings stopped in 1958.

DavidZornig on May 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Apparently the building was sold last December.

DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 7:36 am

Circa 1971 Saul Smaizys photo via Flickr. Covent entrance would have been where the Playdium Bowl Parking is on the right. Image will enlarge in link.

DavidZornig on February 22, 2022 at 3:55 pm

Update on Covent Hotel project.

DavidZornig on November 17, 2023 at 8:27 am

This renovated Covent Hotel article has a photo (added to gallery) of what used to be the theatre lobby entrance, and later the driveway to rear parking area that had been the auditorium footprint, is now closed off with windows presumably for retail space. It is interesting that they left the “Hotel Covent men’s residence” ghost sign on the South elevation of the building at the top.

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