Woods Theatre in 1922
|Address||54 West Randolph Street
|Owner||The Shubert Organization|
|Current use||Goodman Theatre Center|
|Opened||March 28, 1918|
|Closed||January 8, 1989|
|Architect||Marshall and Fox|
The Woods Theatre was a movie palace located at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn Streets in the Chicago Loop. It opened in 1918 and was popular entertainment destination for decades. Originally a venue for live theater, it later converted to show movies. It closed in 1989 and was demolished in 1990.
The Woods Theatre was built by theatrical producer Albert H. Woods. He had opened the Eltinge Theatre in New York City to host his Broadway productions, and wanted a similar venue in Chicago for his road companies. The Woods opened on March 11, 1918. It was designed in a Neo-Gothic style by the firm Marshall and Fox, which also designed such still-extant Chicago structures as the Blackstone Theatre (later renamed the Merle Reskin Theatre) and the Drake Hotel. The ten-story building included the theater at the ground level and offices above.
The Woods converted to show movies in 1932. It later became the flagship venue for Essaness Theatres, which moved its headquarters into the building. Starting in the 1950s, the building featured an unusually large marquee facing Dearborn Street. The facade and its marquee can be seen in the parade scene of the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
In its later years the quality of the venue declined. In 1982, the management had to pay for medical treatments when a patron was bitten by a rat during a show. By 1988, the Woods had become the last of the Chicago Loop movie houses. It closed on January 8, 1989. The last movie shown was Hellbound: Hellraiser II.
After being considered for entry in the National Register of Historic Places, it was demolished in 1990. The demolition was part of a controversial urban renewal project. Beginning with the demolition of the Garrick Theatre on Randolph, many of Chicago's classic theaters were demolished either because of disuse or disrepair. The Woods was located on the parcel directly northwest of the controversial Block 37, which once housed the Roosevelt and United Artists theaters. The site of the McVickers Theatre is now occupied by the Goodman Theatre Center. Block 37 across the street is on the site of the Woods Theatre. It sat vacant for more than fifteen years.
Movies that held their premieres at the Woods Theatre included:
- The Big Sky (August 6, 1952)
- The Moon Is Blue (June 1953)
- Monkey on My Back (May 14, 1957)
- Schiecke, Konrad (2006). Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois, 1883-1960. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 189. ISBN 0-7864-2308-0. OCLC 61461606.
- "Movie horror too real". Pacific Stars and Stripes. UPI. February 26, 1982. p. 7.
- Schultz, Susy (January 9, 1989). "The Woods, last movie theater in Loop, goes dark". Chicago Sun-Times – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- McCarthy, Todd (2000) . Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood (paperback ed.). New York: Grove Press. p. 491. ISBN 0-8021-3740-7. OCLC 45839404.
- Guernsey, Otis L., Jr. (June 28, 1953). "Chicago Seeing Controversial 'Moon Is Blue'". Section 5. Toledo Blade. Herald Tribune News Service. p. 4.
- Century, Douglas (2009) . Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter. Jewish Encounters series (paperback ed.). New York: Shocken Books. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-8052-1173-3. OCLC 60669132.
- "Monkey on My Back (1957)". TCM.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014.