Valencia Theater

1560 Sherman Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60201

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: ABC Theatres, Balaban & Katz Corp., Plitt Theatres

Architects: John Edmund Oldaker Pridmore

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Evanston Theater, Evanston Strand Theater, New Evanston Theater

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Originally called the Evanston Theater, a vaudeville-turned-movie house built in 1911. In 1917 it was renamed Evanston Strand Theater. In 1922 it was renamed New Evanston Theater. This theater was completely rebuilt in 1932 as the Valencia Theater, with increased seating for around 950 and Art Deco style decor.

The Valencia Theater was acquired by the Chicago-based Balaban & Katz chain not long after it reopened. It later was operated under B & K’s successor chains, ABC Theatres, and finally Plitt Theatres.

The Valencia Theater, one of downtown Evanston’s most popular movie houses, closed in 1975.

The Valencia Theater was demolished in 1975, replaced in the early-1980’s by an eighteen-story building that now houses the world headquarters of Rotary International.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

Broan on August 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Here is a brief view of the Valencia in a drivers training video, as found by David Zornig

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm

That video is great. It shows exactly where the theater was on the block.

DavidZornig on September 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

It’s on the Coronet page too LTS. The Coronet is at the 12:32 mark.

dvarapala on June 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I grew up about 2 blocks from “Evanston’s Perfect Sound Theater” in the late 60s/early 70s and spent many hours there. I remember seeing “Chariots of the Gods?” and “The Outer Space Connection” there, as well as several of the Charlie Brown movies. We moved away right about the time it was torn down to make way for the American Hospital Supply building (now the HQ for Rotary Intl.)

Evanston artist Walter Burt Adams painted the Valencia several times, including one very sad one of the demolition. Some of these are available on the Evanston Public Library web site:

DavidZornig on December 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm

There is a circa 1922 photo of the New Theatre around page 23 in the below link. Copy & Paste to view.

DavidZornig on October 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm

5 new images added to the Photos Section since December of 2014.

DavidZornig on November 6, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Circa 1920’s shots of the Valencia at 10:37, and a 1950’s shot at 11:09 in the below History of Evanston link on YouTube. (The Varsity is at 12:40) Film by Ron & Sydney Crawford. Narrated by Byrne Piven of Evanston’s Piven Theatre.

DavidZornig on November 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

It was renamed the New Evanston sometime prior to December 5th, 1925. Print ad from that date added via David Floodstrand.

DavidZornig on April 20, 2020 at 9:54 am

Updated history courtesy the Evanston History Center: “Originally called the Evanston Theater, it opened as a 950-seat vaudeville theater in 1911. Over the years, the theater changed hands, suffered fire damage, and was renamed three times: In 1917, it briefly became the “Evanston Strand Theater,” and then in 1922, it was renamed the “New Evanston Theater.” Finally, in 1932, it became the Valencia Theater, after an extensive remodeling and takeover by the theater chain corporation, Balaban and Katz.”

DavidZornig on September 26, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Demolished in June 1975. 1975 photo added credit Evanston History Center.

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