Admiral Theatre

3940 W. Lawrence Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60625

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DavidZornig on August 7, 2023 at 9:17 am

Official website & Facebook page for the Admiral Theatre.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 15, 2023 at 8:03 am

Judging by the old Chicago Tribune ads, it seems like the Admiral opened a double feature of THE WRECKING CREW plus PENDULUM on Friday, December 19, 1969; closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; and then reopened on Friday, December 26, 1969 with the new Adult film policy. It was soft core adult films, initially. I’m not sure when the hard core porno films started rolling in. Possibly 1970 or 1971.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 15, 2023 at 12:41 am

The Admiral Theatre reopened on Friday, August 29, 1969 as a regular neighborhood movie theatre. It started showing “Adults Only” movies on Friday, December 26, 1969. The Admiral remained open as an adult theatre until the Summer of 1987.

rivest266 on August 15, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Shown up in the Balaban & Katz on January 1st, 1942. No special ad found.

rivest266 on August 11, 2020 at 3:12 pm

The Admiral theatre opened on March 31st, 1927 with “Stolen Pleasures”.

DavidZornig on May 9, 2020 at 6:42 am

“Admiral Theatre sues over PPP loan delay, alleges regulations violate first amendment.”

DavidZornig on May 31, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Exterior photo included…

Broan on December 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Drove by yesterday, the Admiral has re-done its entrance in a more sympathetic way – more of the terra cotta is now exposed and a lot of that EFIS stucco is gone.

kencmcintyre on January 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm

My porno filter at work did not like that website. Have to wait until I get home.

teddy666 on June 26, 2009 at 1:26 am

I was just helping a good friend of mine organize all of the Admiral Theater’s 35mm film prints in their projection booth (yep, the booth and projectors are still there…as are the 70+ 35mm porno films ranging from 1969 through 1983). It was a blast! There are about twenty balcony rows still there before a wall begins (which is where the balcony video booths are). Beyond that, down below, is the showroom with the strippers, which takes up a large portion of the auditorium. It’s amazing for me to write this, but when looking out of the windows in the projection booth, over the ceilings of the video booths and showrooms, at the very end of the theater in darkness is the curtains and presumabely the movie screen…completely intact! I’m going back soon to snap a few pictures which I will gladly post for anyone who is interested to see!

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

We were here in 1991. A rare appearance by Rockford Illinois' own Ginger Lynn. (It’s important to support hometown talent ya know).

The first floor had a DVD & “toy” store behind a rather large raised ticket & cashier counter. It had turnstyles to access that area. The DVD sales area was raised up a few feet higher than the initial lobby floor.

Behind that was a giant showroom, obviously the old auditorium. Accessed by hallways on either side. Though management steered patrons to the right as recall.

You could see original plaster work up around the 2nd floor windows in the lobby. Areas that were painted purple & silver. Those windows faced Lawrence Ave. Supposedly there were video booths on the 2nd floor.

The showroom was mostly black or purple as I recall. So the stage was really the focal point. You could tell a lot of money was spent whenever they had remodeled previously.

Broan on October 18, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Recent photos are HERE

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 7, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I’ve heard, from an employee of the Admiral, that there are still projection machines sitting way up at their station in the back of the house.

robbjibson on May 14, 2007 at 10:02 am

I have seen the behind the scenes at this theatre extesnivly. I worked for a stage lighting compnay that installed some rigging and lighting to the current owners. The main auditorium plaster has been gutted, with the super structure supporting a drop ceiling type system. The stage house grid is still intact upstage of the proceienum, and many of the grid blocks are still there. The stage proper houses dressing rooms, with the “t” stage being Downstage of the proscenium. The balcony concrete is still intact and house the private DVD viewing rooms, in fact there are many of the older chairs are stored where the lighting and audio controls are. Some of the proscenium work and plaster is still there and it has a goofy way of terminting the orginal arch at the drop ceiling: the aluminum is just cut to fit around with the orginal arch being able to be seen when we were walking the high steel…

GrandMogul on March 29, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Chicago Daily News, Tuesday, January 6, 1942, p. 11, c. 4:


Three new theaters have joined the Balaban & Katz chain. All are locatd on the Northwest Side and have been under the B. & K. banner since the first of the year. They are the Portage at 4050 Milwaukee avenue, the Admiral at 3940 Lawrence avenue, and the Drake at 3548 Montrose avenue. All three are now undergoing minor operational transitions and will offer the latest cinema advantages to neighborhood audiences.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 13, 2006 at 6:24 pm

As I understand it the mini-golf epdisode was in the 60’s. The story I heard is that by the time it reopened as an adult theatre the interior had been substantially altered. I also understand that it sat in this condition for some years (as the mini-golf thing never came to pass).

Broan on March 5, 2006 at 4:18 pm

In 1985, the theater’s mob-figure owner, Patsy Riccardi, turned up dead in a car trunk. At the time, it was still a porno theater and had been open since 1969, so I would assume the interior was intact. However, in 1958 the theater completely flooded over 10 days, so much that water was flowing out of the doors following a bad water main disconnection, so much of the interior was probably badly damaged then. It was remodeled to switch to a strip club in 1991
The theater building was or is owned by Lou Wolf, one of the city’s most notorious slumlords, who is behind the destruction by neglect of many Chicago theaters and buildings.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 5, 2006 at 2:45 pm

I will admit to having attended the Admiral once about four years back. I also can’t resist saying that the talent in there is GREAT (give me salacious prurience any day). The lobby looks original. The auditorium seems to have been gutted. It’s a vast, dark, open space with a T-shaped stage in the middle surrounded by many small tables. No sign of vintage decoration. It is a actually a respectable place: clean, well-maintained. I’m sure some would dispute that. I heard that the auditorium was gutted years ago when someone was planning on putting mini-golf into the building (before the adult format arrived). That came from a pretty reliable source, but I can’t 100% confirm it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 4, 2006 at 5:40 pm

Oh, the salacious prurience! Bare breasts on the Internet! Who would have thought there could be such a thing? The club site does have three decent, though small, pictures of the facade. Let’s steal their bandwidth and link directly to the first picture here. See the next two pictures by changing the “club1” in the URL to “club2” and then “club3” (there are six more pictures after that, of the interior following conversion, but there’s little in them recognizable from the original theatre decor.) This way, the prudes can see the theatre without seeing the, um, mammalian features on the site’s front page. They will be uncorrupted (except for the whole bandwidth theft thing, but what’s that next to the evils of prurience?)

kencmcintyre on March 4, 2006 at 3:59 pm

I would post the current establishment’s website here, but as I have already been excoriated on another page for being prurient and salacious, I’ll leave it alone. Look it up on Google.

Broan on March 4, 2006 at 1:36 pm

The Admiral was originally to be named the Ritz and to open in April, 1925; it opened exactly two years later, on March 31, 1927.