Academy of Music I
Life Span: 1863-1871
Location: Washington street, between Clark and Dearborn streets
Architect: W. W. Boyington
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1863
Academy of Music—Arlington, Leon, Kelly and Donniker, have just completed their new Concert Hall, on Washington street, between Clark and Dearborn. It is of brick, neat and substantial throughout. Size, 55 by 82; cost, $12,000. W. W. Boyington Architect.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1863
Western Railroad Gazette, January 30, 1864
Academy of Music
We dropt in at this charming theatre last evening just in time to see Price Arlington and Jones (illustriously funny trio) in some of theft most exquisitely laughable performances. We know of no place in the city like it to utterly demolish low spirits or blue devils Houses night after night crowded to overflowing sufficiently attest the talent good management and success of this rare constellation of black-birds. May their very dark shadows never be less.
Chicago Post, November 28, 1866
About twelve months ago a person was arrested in this city charged with the grievous crime of publishing an humoral newspaper. The public were horrified at the enormity of the offense, though the most moral the most immaculate of them bought greedily the sheet, and eagerly devoured, in private, its contents, and then, having professed themselves dreadfully shocked, bought again, and read again, with intense gusto, the objectionable matter. The people of this city have, in a general way, somewhat questionable notions concerning morality and propriety. They have, or rather it has a remarkable faculty for swallowing camels and choking upon gnats. Through police raids, the victims of which ae carefully selected by police officers, accustomed to supplement their salaries in very questionable ways, it can see the screw applied to the ‘finances of improper public characters, and applaud, sometimes vociferously applaud. But it can wink dreadfully hard, this shameless public of ours, at sins which are not necessarily rendered flagrantly public.
For the last three or four weeks there has been a company of—it would be impossible to say what description of characters—performing at the Academy of Music on Washington street. The performances consist mainly of a series of conversations between women, in comparison with whom the meanest, foulest and vilest wretch of the many wretches who were yesterday fined at the Court, is pure and respectable. This conversation is one continued flow of the most abominable obscenity. Such language as is there used, on a public stage, and which evokes the grinning approbation of thousands of Chicago citizens, could hardly be expected to be heard in the commonest brothel. Foul anecdotes, fouler allusions inuendos with only one meaning, spoken by women, by creatures at least guised as women, having voices and the general outward semblance of women, but mho are in fact—what it would be impossible to express. There were men there also upon the stage who filled up the time by an interchange of such anecdotes as would not be tolerated at the commonest tavern bar. Roger Plant himself would have blushed at many of the abominable allusions made—all the more abominable from the fact that there was a double meaning in every one.
And listening to this there have sat night after night in this now utterly disreputable and utterly ruined place of amusement, hundreds of “respectable” citizens, members of the board of trade and of the bar, high dignitaries of the courts even it is said, listening, applauding, grinning, shrieking with delight, at the obscene utterances of a parcel of filthy harlots, and still more filthy blackguards of the other sex. So much for an enlightened public. It might be taken as a fitting commentary on the refinement and decency of Chicago, the reception which has been accorded to this abominable crew, Men of acknowledged respectability or at least of responsibility have been seen there. Fathers of families, persons who have sometimes even to preside at public meetings, and yet, of them, no one has ever raised an indignant voice, and cried shame upon this horrible scandal this deep disgrace to the respectability of our city.
But what of the law—of the administrators of the law—of the police? How is it that in a city where obscene publications can be so very speedily and with such slight effort suppressed an obscene performance can be allowed to exist without interference. There have been strange stories told of curious influences which have at times been brought to bear on members of the police force. Other high officials have also been talked of at times. There is something very suggestive and very -peculiar in the fact that the authorities have never interfered with this shameful exhibition. If it is not immediately suppressed, it would be well for the citizens to order an inquiry into the causes of its being allowed to exist. It requires no talent to enable a shameless woman to tell obscene stories, but public morality and decency imperatively demand that she shall be prohibited from doing so in this city at least We have, it is to be hoped, got beyond the wholly barbarous phase of existence, and the authorities must make it emphatically known that lewd and disreputable persons must, if they exist in this city at all, keep themselves strictly and entirely private. Public exhibitions which outrage all decency and decorum must on no account be permitted to exist here.