Life Span: 1896-1970
Location: 64 E. Van Buren Street
Architect: Dwight H. Perkins
Steinway Hall was an 11-story (then) skyscraper opened in 1896. The building was built by the piano makers Steinway & Sons and the theater was one of many Steinway Halls around the world designed to showcase company products. Located on Van Buren Street, near Michigan Avenue, the Steinway Hall was located in the Chicago Musical College Building, The building for a time in the early 1900s was the offices and nucleus of a group of famous Chicago architects that included a young Frank Lloyd Wright. These young architects, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and the philosophies of Louis Sullivan, formed what would become known as the Prairie School.
Barrett Central Theatre
64 E. Van Buren Street
The 850-seat theater opened as the Steinway Music Hall. By 1900 the theater was renamed Ziegfeld Hall, probably leased to Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., but soon was renamed the Kelly and Leon Opera House. By 1910, it was called the Whitney Opera House, leased to B.C. Whitney. Sophie Tucker and Fatty Arbuckle were among those to appear in stage shows at the Whitney. By 1915, it was called the Central Music Hall with a program of Shakespearean plays. It should not be confused with a different Central Music Hall, designed by Dankmar Adler, that stood at the southeast corner of State and Randolph streets and was demolished in 1900. Central Music Hall was renamed to Central Theatre in 1923, with variations on that name over the next several years depending on who leased it (Minturn’s Central Theatre, Barrett’s Central Theatre, Shubert’s Central Theatre).
In 1930 it became a movie house called the Punch & Judy Theatre. In about 1931 it was renamed back to the Central Theatre and did live performances again, but in 1934 it went back to movies and was renamed the Sonotone Theatre. It was later renamed the Studio Theatre, the Ziegfeld Theatre, and finally the Capri Cinema in 1958. Capri Cinema ran adult films towards the end, closing in the late 60s. The theater was demolished with the building in 1970.
Steinway Hall Stage
So sad that it’s gone. Thank you for sharing the history of this great building. I’m a retired widow from Wisconsin that was born, raised, and lived in Chicago until my 30’s. I’m in Chicago often in spite of moving. Sweet home Chicago.