Lakeside Theater

4730 North Sheridan Road
Built 1914
Architect: Ralph Cambel Harris

The Lakeside Theater, located at 4730 North Sheridan Road, opened in 1915 and had a seating capacity of nearly 1,000 persons. Long before the opening of the much larger Pantheon, Riviera, and Uptown Theaters transformed the area into one of the city’s premier entertainment destinations, the Lakeside, along with the nearby DeLuxe Theater, made its mark as one of Uptown’s best neighborhood movie houses.

The theater initially was part of the Ascher Brothers circuit of Chicago movie houses. Under Ascher Brothers management, the Lakeside followed a combination policy of vaudeville and motion pictures, or what the company’s advertisements heralded as “Refined Vaudeville and Feature Photo Plays.” In 1918, however, control of the theater switch hands, with Lubliner & Trinz taking over the Lakeside’s lease from Ascher Brothers. The move conincided with the opening of former’s new Pantheon Theater, one block to the south of the Lakeside. With the new lease, Lubliner & Trinz gained the control over both the Pantheon’s and the Lakeside’s programming and pricing scale. By carefully managing the release of pictures between the two houses, the firm effectively limited competition between them, thus preventing a price war that, while benefitting moviegoers, would have cut into company profits.

Like other movie theaters in the area, the Lakeside catered to the cultural interests and modern sensibilities of the large number of young, independent women who lived in the surrounding neighborhood through special promotions and matinee events. One event in 1920 offered a free demonstration on the latest techniques in permanent-wave hair styling with the purchase of a ticket to the afternoon show. During its early years, the Lakeside also served as a temporary meeting space for at least two religious congregations. The newly founded Roman Catholic Church of Saint Thomas of Canterbury held masses there from March 1916 until its permanent church on Kenmore Avenue had been completed. Ten years later, the Lakeside served as the temporary home of the North Shore Universalist Church.

In 1925, Balaban and Katz, operators of the Chicago, Uptown, Riviera, Tivoli, and Central Park Theaters, assumed management of the Lakeside and sixteen other Lubliner and Trinz theaters. The deal, one of the biggest theater handoffs up to that time in Chicago, significantly increased Balaban and Katz’s dominance in the nation’s second largest movie theater market.

In subsequent decades, the Lakeside, despite its close proximity to several larger Uptown movie theaters, continued to attract a steady stream of customers by showing second- and third-run movies at slightly lower prices. The Lakeside remained in business until 1966. Between 1970 and 2000, the former theater housed the Columbia College Dance Center. In 2000, Alternatives, a youth development agency, acquired the facility for use as a community youth center.

Internet Resources
Photograph: Lakeside Theater, December 1936 [Univ. of Illinois at Chicago]
Photograph: Lakeside Theater, December 1936 [Univ. of Illinois at Chicago]

Sources: Chicago Daily Tribune, 23 Mar 1916, 13; 24 Nov 1918, E18; 16 May 1920; 9 Jan 1927, E6; Variety, 13 May 1925, 26; United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Uptown Square Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, submitted 4 October 2000.