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Hooley’s Theatre, Haverly’s Theatre, Powers’ Theater
Life Span: 1872-1924
Location: 124 W. Randolph Street, Randolph St., Between Clark and La Salle Streets
Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1872
Hooley’s Opera House is rapidly approaching completion. Its location insures it a prosperous business when the city is entirely rebuilt. Situated near the junction of the Clark and Randolph street railroads, in the immediate vicinity of several of the best hotels, and adjacent to the city buildings, it will be in the very centre of trade, and conveniently placed as regards population. The front elevation, which will be entirely finished before the next week closes, is 20 feet wide by 72 feet in height. The material used in its construction is gray Cincinnati stone, chaste and elegant in color, and susceptible, as our readers are aware, of fine and elegant finish. The architectural design of the front is handsome. The first story will be entirely occupied by the entrance, which will be 18 feet in length, by 20 in width, and width 70 feet deep to the doors of the auditorium. On each side of the entrance, at the upper corner, are two figures carved in relief in solid blocks of stone, representing Comedy and Tragedy, They are eight feet in length, and placed partially leaning over the entrance in such a manner to form an archway. The story next above will be of iron and plate glass. The third story will be also of stone and plate glass, heavily encircled with columns and pilasters, and adorned on the upper part with two winged figures, also carved in stone, representing the geniuses of Music and Art. The upper story will have similar windiws, fluted columns, pilasters, and arches, and be surmounted by a neat cornice of galvanized iron, with a broken pediment adorned with a gilded globe. The interior of the upper stories of the part of the structure devoted to the entrance will be divided into offices, to be used for purposes of miscellaneous business. One of the finest offices will be appropriated by Mr. Hooley to his own private use.
Randolph Street, East from LaSalle
The entrance will be handsomely frescoed. Three elegant stairways on the left give access to the offices above, and to the different circles of the auditorium. The dress-circle is gained by a few steps that rise from the further end of the passage. Just at the left of this is the flight of stairs leading to the second circle; still further back is the flight leading to the gallery. The ticket office will be a neat pagoda in colored woods, standing on the kleft of the passage just at the foot of the gallery stairs.
The auditorium is entered at its southwest corner. It is 67 feet in depth by 65 in width, and 54 in height from the floor of the parquet to the dome. A dome 25 feet in diameter, gives character to the ceiling, and forms its principal ornament. Qbove the first floor are two tiers of seats supported by elegant iron columns, smoothly turned, and gilded to represent shafts of gold. The general appearance of the interior, the sweep of galleries especially, at once suggests McVicker’s Theatre. The proscenium is much like that of the latter, although less extensive. There are two stage boxes, elegantly upholstered, handsomely arched, and flanked by gilded Corinthian columns. The upper stage boxes are further adorned by caryatides, which support the cornice. They represent full-length female figures, handsomely draped, and bearing the superincumbent weight upon elegant tasseled cushions. They are made of stucco, bronzed, and gilded, and were modified by Signor Giovanni Meli, the sculptor. The design of the proscenium is elaborate, and the coloring is in white and gold. The frescoing is in mixed Egyptian and Oriental pattern. The interior of the dome represents simply a sky with stairs, which terminates in a gold fringe made up of semi-circles and portions of triangles in chaste hues ornamented with flowers. The main portion of the ceiling is laid out in panels and triangles of antique suggestion, traced with lines of red, blue and gold. The ceiling terminates in a beautiful border, colored in faint pink, green and gold, having as its chief ornament the lotus flower. The walls are laid out in mauve-colored panels, there being under each circle a rich cornice in the prevailing hues, and of the same general design. The combined view of the walls and ceiling is unique and handsome, and reflects much credit upon P. M. Almini & Co., the designers and contractors, and upon Mr. Hopkins, who has had much to do with the execution of the work. The gallery fronts are painted in cream-color, pink, and gray, and have a wire railing of neat pattern. The parquet and dress circle are seated with opera chairs; the upper circles with sofas, upholstered in crimson velvet and magenta-colored rep. The entire auditorium will be carpeted luxuriously. The entrance is to be floored with tiles, laid in handsome design, and opposite the entrance are to be showy street lamps of novel character, imported especially for the theater.
The various dimensions of the theater are as follows:
The ventilation will be from the courts and alleys on three sides, and will be ample. The auditorium will be lighted by a chandelier suspended from the dome, and gasoliers variously disposed about the circles and the proscenium. They are of the latest Booth pattern, and placed by Mr. Jacobsen. The height oif the great chandelier is 35 feet, and its diameter 12 feet. It will have 200 gas jets, and be composed of 60,000 distinct pieces of crystal, which assuredly ought to give it a splendid effect. The management claim that their theatre will be more brilliantly lighted than any other in the city. The seating capacity will not be far from 1,300, and the seats are arranged with ample space about them, and due regard to the convenience of the spectator. There will be few handsome theatres in the country than Mr. Hooley’s. It will be thrown open to the public next Thursday evening, with the pantomine of “Humpty Dumpty,” by the Abbott Kiralfy Troupe. Mr. Hooley is negotiating with Mr. Strakosch, for his (Adelina) Patti concerts; and also for “King Carrot,” now running at the Grand Opera House, New York. He assures the public of a rapid succession of elegant light entertainments during the coming season.
Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1872
INAUGURATION OF HOOLEY’S THEATRE.
On the night of the great fire, Richard M. Hooley was at the Briggs House in this city, with his wife, and all his personal paraphernalia, including costly jewels and with his wife, and all his personal paraphernalia, including costly jewels and valuable wardrobes, expecting to take the morning train for New York. He intended to retire from the profession of which he had long been an honored member, to enjoy a handsome competency which a life of labor and energy had enabled him to accumulate. Much of his fortune was invested in this city. The fire came, and swept away the earnings of thousands, his among the rest. But his spirit was not broken, and with gallant courage he went to work to repair the ravages of the fire. How well he succeeded was apparent last evening to those who visited his beautiful theater on the occasion of its opening. It was brilliant in every respect. The audience was composed of our best citizens. They went to honor and encourage the man who had faith in them and their city. There was not standing room. The building was cozy and comfortable, elegant, even luxurious in its appointments. Handsome gasoliers illuminated the scene. Elegantly attired women and correspondingly arrayed men awaited the rising of the curtain. We have not space to-day to enter into an elaborate criticism of the performance. The Abbot-Kiralfy troupe had possession of the stage. Pantomime was the programme. It was fairly represented. There was the usual gestures and tumbling and knocking down perhaps too much of the latter exercise, and brilliant dancing and more than average singing, and everything decent and in order. The Jee Brothers played upon their peculiar piano of stony formation with really wonderful effect. Mademoiselles Elise and Marie Gratz gave their Tyrolean eccentricities in song to the gratification of the audience, and, later in the programme, a cat duet, the broadest part of the performance and the only part to which the prudish could object. The scenery was admirable, especially so the first scene and the illuminated garden in which the grand Mardi Gras divertissement took place. The artists did themselves credit in these scenes, and extended to the public promise of fine productions in the future. Mr. Hooley was surrounded by a host of friends last evening. Mr. McVicker was there to congratulate him, and so were many others of the profession. Frank Agnew, Mr. McDermott, and the other contractors who contributed to the construction of the tasteful dramatic temple, were also present, and everybody hailed with delight this new evidence of the restoration and progress of our city.
Seat Plan and Interior of Hooley’s Theatre Before Remodeling
Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1898
WHEN old playgoers who have watched the comedies at Hooley’s for the last twenty-six years go to the remodeled theater on Aug. 22 they will hunt in vain for the orchestra, and tight chairs, and dingy colors, and other things that have been drawbacks to what William Gilbert called the “best house for comedy in America.” The coziness will be there, but the orchestra will be out of sight under the floor, the narrow chairs will be replaced by big, roomy ones, and instead of the old dismal colors the new playhouse—now Powers’—will glow with rich Indian red, old gold, and ivory. The work of remodeling the theater is nearly done and all there is left of the famous old playhouse are the four walls and the cozy feeling that every one has felt who ever watched a play there.
It is still Hooley’s Theater in the sense that it belongs to the Hooley estate, and Hooley’s name will still glow in incandescent lights over the front door. But what discomforts there were in the old theater have al been done away with and all the comforts have been kept in the new playhouse.
Mr. Powers followed the plan of the Knickerbocker and Daly’s Theaters in New York in putting the orchestra out of sight. Doubtless it will please everybody but the musicians, and people who now go to the theater to talk to each other between the acts as well as to see the play will stand some chance. There will be a good deal less profanity also on the part of artistic souls who object to seeing half a dozen fiddle bows waved back and forth when the orchestra is trying to fill out a sensational stage scene.
The orchestra pit is sunk four and one-half feet below the parquet floor, which will effectually screen the musicians. The change has given the theater two extra rows of seats. When an opera is to be played the seats may be removed and the orchestra brought to the parquet level.
Decoration of Auditorium.
The auditorium decorations are in Louis IV. style, with all flat surfaces in different shades of red, and to rococo relief work in ivory and gold. The paintings of the proscenium arch are done in tapestry imitation of the manufacture Royale de Bauvais, the subjects after Antoine Wateau.
The seating capacity, 1,250, which was reduced by the larger opera chairs, has been increased to the old number by the removal of the third tier boxes, as well as by sinking the orchestra. The removal of the upper boxes allows the gallery and balcony to be extended slightly.
All the wall panels on the first floor are in Indian red, like the ceiling, the gaudy effect of the red being softened by silk damask effects in the panels. Enough floral work has been introduced in the ceiling cove and on the soffit of the firsy balcony to break the monotony of the red.
The Louis IV. style is carried into the decorations of the foyer. The coloring of the foyer is old rose, the ceiling having a sky effect and the walls carrying out the silk damask effect of the auditorium panels in the new color. The entrance is in the Empire style, in light shades of ivory and shades of osage green. The wainscoting and balustrade for the gallery exit is of Alps green marble, like that used in the pillars of the Waldorf-Astoria rotunda and lower corridors.
St. John Lewis is still engaged on the new drop curtain, which will be a fourth wall to the auditorium decorations. The center of the drop is a copy of A. P. E. Morland’s painting in the Louvre, representing the meeting of Louis IV. and Mlle. de la Vallière, where Louis, alighting from his coach as he drives from the palace with his courtiers, lifts his chapeau above mademoiselle’s head saying, “The royalty of France now protects you.” An asbestos drop will overhang this one till the orchestra enters, and will perform the function also of telling audiences at certain plays that all is over.
In the old Hooley’s there never was a superabundance of emergency exits, and Manager Harry J. Powers has gone to the other extreme. If it were possible, in the remodeled theater. There is an areaway on three sides of the building, and into these open fire exits from the gallery and four from the balcony, and a spiral iron stairway descends in the auditorium, besides the regular entrance and exit to balcony and gallery. The balcony stairs have been removed to the foyer, which will do away with the frequent overcrowding at the old Hooley’s. Every electric light wire in the building runs through iron conduit, ehich Manager Powers boasts can be said of no other house in the city.
Extra precautions have been taken against fire in the dressing-rooms, thirteen of which are in the basement, and the remaining eight on the stage. The basement floors are all cement and the dressing-room partitions terra cotta, and there is no wood about them but the doors.
The old Hooley’s was built after the fire and opened Oct. 17, 1872, by the Abbott-Kiralfy company. It was under the control of Mr. Richard M. Hooley from the opening until his death, in 1893, with the exception of one year. Before the fire Hooley’s Theater stood on the site of the present Grand Opera-House. It has always been a paying institution.
The change in name was through no choice of Mr. Powers, who has managed the theater almost since the opening, and who wished to keep the old name. The bonus required by the Hooley estate, from which it is leased by the new management, was too great, however, for him to feel justified in meeting the conditions. Mr. Powers was urged to use his own name by managers who have come in contact with him for years and who knew his value to the old Hooley’s.
The new theater will reopen on Aug. 22 with Clyde Fitch’s new play, “The Moth and the Flame.”
Fire Exit Maps
The Moving Picture World, January 15, 1916
Chicago Theatrical Manager Sees Boon in Pictures.
Harry J. Powers, the veteran manager of Powers theater, this city, is by no means pessimistic over the outlook for the drama in Chicago, nor is he fearful of the competition of moving pictures. Unlike many of his managerial colleagues, he actually sees in moving pictures and their present vogue a boon to histrionism and to theatrical business. Speaking of the business of the past year in Chicago’s first class theaters, he classes it as one of the best in the last ten years.
Mr. Powers says:
Never in the history of the stage has theatergoing been so great—in fact, it is almost universal. This age is witnessing a craving for amusement as essential for the masses as the necessities of life. The advent of motion pictures is to be credited with this to a considerable degree. Pantomime, the highest type of histrionic art, was in a decline when the cinema appeared and revitalized it, accomplishing for the theater what the Victrola did for music and the public schools for education, also giving the cause of temperance an impetus by promoting neighborhood theaters, counteracting the vicious poolrooms and saloons.
It is my firm conviction that the ‘movies’ have not detracted from the legitimate theater. I consider the expenditure of 10 cents for picture shows in the same proportion as an opposition to the best theaters, as the purchase of newspapers for 1 cent is a competition to the sale of books or high-grade magazines.
I say ‘yes,’ to the question: ‘Has the year been as prosperous as other years for theaters of the first class?’ Taking the downtown houses as a basis, and including in this analysis $2 ‘movies’—as ‘The Birth of a Nation’ brought this about by its long engagement at the Illinois theater and its current run at the Colonial—I feel I am within reason in asserting that 1915 has been one of the best years Chicago has had in a decade.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1924
CHICAGO’S FIRST CLASS THEATER BEING DISMANTLED.
Left to Right: Harry J. Powers, son of proprietor of Powers’ theater; Art Colby, property man for twenty-seven years; John E. Mooney, business manager; Sam Frankenstein, wrecker.
124 W. Randolph Street
Robinson Fire Map 1886
Volume 3, Plate 1
Randolph St., Between Clark and La Salle Streets