190 N. State Street,
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Firms: Rapp & Rapp
Styles: French Renaissance
Previous Names: RKO State-Lake Theatre
News About This Theater
Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit, the State-Lake Theatre opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. Fronted by an office building designed by architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, the auditorium was designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 13 ranks organ. It later became the major venue for the RKO theatre chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on W. Randolph Street). The theatre is named for its location on the corner of N. State Street and W. Lake Street, across the street from the State and Lake “El” Station.
It was built a couple years before the Chicago Theatre, which sits just across the street from the State-Lake Theatre, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago Theatre, though the State-Lake Theatre was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theatre became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theatre switched to movies-only.
After closing on June 28, 1984, the State-Lake Theatre’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.
The Rapp & Rapp designed exterior was restored to it’s 1920’s appearance (except for its marquee and ticket booth) and is still quite an impressive bookend to the Chicago Theatre across N. State Street.
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