The Janet of Enameled Brick

The Moving Picture World, May 21, 1910:

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“On North Avenue [Chicago] is the ‘Janet,’ a building of enameled brick construction–not only in front but on all sides. Here we witnessed an excellent exhibition of independent pictures on the mirror screen, and, by the way, Mr. Hyman, the owner of this pretty theater, confessed to us that things looked pretty blue for him until the mirror screen turned the tide in his favor.

“And there was a tide of humanity in double line blocking the street on the occasion of our visit. ”

Janet Theatre, 617 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL

Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.

Walks also available at Local Expeditions

Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.

The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.

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Carl Laemmle and the White Front

Carl Laemmle, father of Universal Pictures, was born January 17, 1867 in Laupheim , Baden- Wurttemberg, Germany. He immigrated to America in 1884, working a variety of jobs before becoming a bookkeeper at a retail clothing store in Oshkosh.

With money saved, he came to Chicago in 1905 with thoughts of opening a chain of five and ten-cent stores. While scouting for locations, Laemmle happened  upon a movie theatre in the Palmer House block.  The picture show was a novelty to him, as it was to millions of others at the time. He immediately investigated, taking in several shows there.  Laemmle also took in movies at the Nickelodeon on Halsted Street near Van Buren.

Carl Laemmle decided not to invest his money in dime stores but instead the motion picture business.

Excerpts from Moving Picture World, July 15, 1916:
“In a very short time he had taken a lease on the property located at 909 Milwaukee avenue, remodeled it, and opened what was known as the White Front theater, ‘the coolest 5c theater in Chicago.’ The opening was on February 24, 1906. The theater contained 214 seats, and was of course, nothing but a remodeled store.

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The White Front July 24, 1906

“Mr. Laemmle’s first show consisted of one reel of film and that was only 900 feet long. Each show lasted about twenty-two minutes, and included a song besides the 900-foot reel. Under these circumstances, playing to turn-away business, it was possible for the house to clear as high as $192 in one day, and this is the record for the White Front, though business usually ran around $180.

“Mr. Laemmle also owned another house, having acquired it very soon after the White Front, in April 1906. This theater seems never to have had a definite name. It was located at 1233 So. Halsted street, and like the White Front, was a converted store. These were the only two houses in which Mr. Laemmle had any considerable interest, and his interest in them soon became secondary to his exchange, and that in turn to his manufacturing interest in the Imp Company.”

Laemmle Family Website

Imp Company

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

Currently editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume I.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2016: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc

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“Two Pretty Chicago Theaters”

Nickelodeon, November 1909:

“The two picture theaters shown herewith, the photographs of which were taken by William Wright of the Kalem Company*, are among Chicago’s prettiest houses.”

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“The Boston Theater, on East Madison Street, costs $18,000, and seats 296 people. The seating space is very generous, giving the audience a sense of comfort and freedom that adds not a little to the attractiveness of the house.

“The admission price is five cents on every day but Saturday and Sunday, when ten cents is charged, vaudeville being added on those days. The Boston is owned by the Boston Amusement Company, and managed by J. W. Ferris.”

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“The Apollo Theater on Forty-seventh street cost $17,000 and seats 700. Pictures and vaudeville are given, and an admission charge of ten cents is made to all seats. Robert R. Levy is the owner of the Apollo.”

*Kalem was a pioneer film studio founded in New York City in 1907.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014, historical societies, libraries, senior Centers, etc.

Bijou Dream Theater 114 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60601

Situated on the second floor above an arcade, the stairway to the Bijou Dream is to the left of the box office.

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Motography, December 21, 1912:

“‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever,’ and the results obtained in moving picture decoration and designing of fronts accomplished by the Decorators’ Supply Company are certainly beautiful.

“One of the theaters for which this company designed the front is illustrated on this page. It is one of many popular Chicago houses, and being on State Street is noticed by thousands of people daily.

“The Decorators’ Supply Company design individual decorations for every theater on which its products are used, and will send an expert to anyone to submit plans and estimates without charge. Its advice is valuable to any one contemplating any changes in the design of a theater front.”

Cezar Del Valle is available for theatre talks and walks in 2013.

He is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.