1649 East 50th Pl., Chicago, Illinois - 1954~1955
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Looking West from our home sweet apartment, 22nd, Top Floor Apartment 22D in the Twin Towers. The sign in the far upper right corner says "Piccadilly Theatre and Hotel"
This photo was taken while flying from Meigs Field in Aero Commander 520 to home.
BELOW...Sandy and Terry Perry, Dorene and Jerry would frequent this theatre often which had first run movies like "Rebel Without A Cause." The dry cleaners and the restaurant mentioned in the last paragraph was also favorites. It was at that restaurant that Sandy and Jerry saw Bob Kelly ND '53 having lunch at the counter. He was "gold bricking" on sick call to avoid spending time at a Nike missel site where he was stationed. He also had to sleep in his car there as they had no room in the barracks for him. We felt sorry for him so we asked our commanding officer if he could be transfered into our office for administrative work promising that he knew how to type. Being a college graduate of course he didn't know how to type which got us into trouble for furthere personnel recomendations.
1443 E Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, IL (map)
Screens: Single Screen
Style: French Renaissance
Architect: George L. Rapp, C. W. Rapp
Firm: Rapp & Rapp
Recent photograph of the Piccadilly Building's exterior
Photo courtesy of Jo Reizner/University of Chicago
The Piccadilly was opened in 1927 by the Schoenstadt circuit in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and was the largest and most ornate of their many primarily South Side houses which included the Atlantic, Peoples, Harper, and Brighton theaters. It was said to cost close to $3 million.
It was designed by the firm of Rapp & Rapp, and could seat 2500. The Piccadilly was inside a large 14-story tower which also included the Piccadilly Hotel and shops along Blackstone Avenue. This was common for movie palaces in cities like New York City and Detroit, but a rarity in Chicago. Also unusual was the lack of a projecting marquee at the main entrance to the theater on Hyde Park Boulevard, due to zoning restricitions. It did have a small one at the foyer entrance on Blackstone.
The Schoenstadts ran the theater for its entire existence and kept it in pristine shape even while the neighborhood that the Piccadilly was in began to decline. Starting in the 50s, attendance began to fall off and the theater was closed in 1963. The last films shown there was a double feature of "Son of Samson" and "Last of the Vikings".
Nearly ten years later, the Piccadilly Theatre was gutted, though the Piccadilly Building still stands today, leased by the University of Chicago for housing and storage space. The terra-cotta facade of the theater is still intact and in excellent condition.
Contributed by Bryan Krefft.
The dry cleaners on the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Blackstone Avenue is still there, but the currency exchange, the shoe repair and the restaurant that stood nexy door to the theatre are long gone.