< --Previous Up Next–>
Back to Theatres of Chicago
Interior of Hooley’s Theatre
Life Span: 1872-1924
Location: 124 W. Randolph Street
Occupies a street frontage on Randolph of only 23 feet, but widens within, giving a stage 50 feet wide and 65 feet deep, the rear door being 180 feet from the entrance of the building, at 1-19 Randolph Street.
This building has an exterior of cut stone and iron, and is 4 stories and basement in height, with lodge-rooms on the upper floors. The theater seats 1,500 persons, but crowds them. The management is famous for presenting a line of first-class attractions, that command the admiration of all who patronize the drama. The best New York companies often plav here. Erected in 1872.
In 1867, Richard Martin Hooley visited Chicago and leased Bryan Hall on Clark St. and renamed it Hooley’s Opera House. However, the Chicago theater was destroyed in the Fire of 1871. He built a new theater at 149 Randolph St., between Clark and LaSalle. He engaged the best stock company ever known in the west and presented the best comedies and farces of the times.
Its dimensions were as follows: Area of lot, 112 x 65 feet; area of auditorium, 67 x 65 feet; height of auditorium, 65 feet; area of stage, 70 x 20 feet stage opening, 30 x 34 feet; width of proscenium, 25 feet.
Hooley’s Opera House Program, 30 June 1873
The theater was dedicated on 21 October 1872 under the old familiar name of Hooley’s Opera House, which had done duty before the fire at the Clark street location, and it was not until several years later that the qualifying and perhaps, misleading phrase was dropped and Hooley’s Theater was fixed upon as the title destined to stand with but a slight interruption for almost twenty-five years. Prior to that change Mr. Hooley adopted The Parlor Home of Comedy as a subtitle, this being his fancy on introducing his great stock company which first appeared Monday evening, 31 August 1874.
Previous to that date the house had been devoted to minstrelsy and to such miscellaneous attractions as could be secured ; but results were not satisfactory, and Mr. Hooley, crippled by the fire, found his financial condition growing desperate.
Randolph Street, East from LaSalle
It is not necessary to dwell upon the events that followed in 1875, when from October of that year until January, 1877, Mr. Hooley was obliged to relinquish his theater to Simon Quinlin, who in turn rented it to Thomas Maguire of California. J. H. Haverly became associated with Maguire during this period, and it was then that the theater was known as Haverly’ s Theater, the old familiar name of Hooley disappearing from the door.
The longest runs in the history of the house may be briefly summarized :
May .30, 1885, Rice’s “Evangeline,” 12 weeks.
July 4, 1891, “The County Fair,” 9 weeks.
October, 1891, E. S. Willard, 4 weeks.
June, 1893, E. S. Willard, 9 weeks.
October, 1893, Coquelin and Hading, 4 weeks.
December, 1893, the Kendals, 4 weeks.
May, 1894, “Charley’s Aunt,” 15 weeks.
July 6, 1895, “Trilby,” 8 weeks.
December 9, 1895, “Prisoner of Zenda,” 5 weeks.
May 23, 1896, “Gay Parisiennes,” 13 weeks.
October 2, 1897, “Secret Service,” 6 weeks.
Mr. Hooley passed away in 1893, at which time Harry J. Powers took it, found himself unable to pay for the old name, changed it to his own, and reopened it, completely remodeled, on 22 August 1898. Keeping it until it was torn down in 1924.
A complete story of the opera house was written in an 1898 book by Lyman Glover, The Story of a Theatre.
Hooley’s Theatre Program, 10 Dec 1881
124 W. Randolph Street
Robinson Fire Map 1886
Volume 3, Plate 1
Powers’ Theater 1900
Fire Exit Maps