Adelphi Theatre Later, Haverly’s
Life Span: 1875-1882
Location: NW Corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets
Architect: Mr. Home
THE NEW ADELPHI (afterwards, Haverly’s Theatre) . Instead of rbuilding the Adelphi upon Adelphi’s old site, manager Leonard Grover and others succeeded in obtaining a lease of the old Post-Office Building, upon the northwest corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets, where the First National Hank now is. The walls, originally very strong, were still standing and it was found possible to utilize them with very little repairing. Within this space was constructed the largest theater until then erected in Chicago. Besides the usual balcony, and gallery, a still higher gallery, holding nearly live hundred people, was suspended from the roof, heavily trussed for the purpose. The two uppermost galleries were capable of holding more than one thousand five hundred people, or nearly the capacity of Central Music Hall. From these extensive regions there were only two exits, by crooked stairways scarcely more than five feet wide. It will be difficult for posterity to believe that their forefathers, and especially their fore-mothers, of Chicago, in the years 1879-80, crowded these dangerous lire-traps over and over again. The New Adelphi was opened on January 11, 1875.
The original construction of the New Adelphi was rather shabby, the lease being but for a short term, and the productiveness of such a property not as yet being well understood.
Haverly’s Theater and a poster from the 1879 production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore”
When “Pinafore” premiered in London in 1878 it was such a huge success that pirated versions such as this were being played in the United States without the authors receiving any receipts. This changed in 1880 when Gilbert & Sullivan debuted their next opera, “Pirates of Penzance” in both countries at the same time in December 1880.
Chicago Tribune, January 3, 1875
THE NEW ADELPHI
THE TWO GREAT EVENTS
of the season in the theatrical world will be the of the Boston Globe Theatre, and of the Chicago AdelphL The former has been designed with great liberality, and was opened with no little eclat by Daly’s Fifth Avenue Company. It is not local pride which induces us to believe that the opening of the Adeiphi will be a still more remarkable occasion, for the reason that the house will possess even greater interest in its reminiscences, and, in addition to this, will contain features which distinguish it from any theatre in the countrv. With
THE ENORMOUS SPACE
inclosed within the solid masonry of the old Post-Office building, on the corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets, the lessees of the property start with advantages enjoyed by no other managers. The extent of the ground gives such ample measurements for the departments of a theatre that it was a necessity to plan and arrange on a scale of magnificence quite unusual. The separate divisions of the ground into stage, auditorium, and lobby are so large that only the most elaborate and colossal designs could give harmony to the whole. The
UNITIES IN CONSTRUCTION
have been regarded with perfect fidelity, and the consequence is that, vast as the building is, it appears compact and neat to an astonishing degree. The main entrance to the theatre is at the south end of the building, by means of two large doors, leading into a portico of enormous dimensions. The box-office is in the centre of the north wall of the portico, on either aide are doors leading into the orchestra and parquet circle, while on either side of a flight of stair leading up to the other circles and galleries. The arrangement of the interior is liberal indeed.
THE ORCHESTRA OR PARQUET,
contains 310 chairs; the parquet-circle around it will seat 678 people; the family and dress circle has seats for 600, while tbe grand tier, the largest in tho country, if not in the world, contains no less than 1,280 seats, with sixteen rows, while above that is a gallery which will accommodate with sitting-room 500 persons, making a total seating of 3,368, with a parquet and four circles. This is an astonishing number, but for all that the theatre, when empty, will not look like a barn. The circles are arranged with consummate skill in a series of curves, embodying the most approved principles of theatrical construction, with certain original ideas on the part of Mr. Wallace Hume, which will doubtless prove successful in their application.
are reached by easy flights of stairs, and the seats can be occupied without much trouble. The exits from the theatre are numerous. Some of the many doorways in the building have been bricked up toward the stage, but near the main entrance they are numerous. Two great doors lead from the portico into the street, two mora from the parquet circle into the street direct, and three or four from the circle to the portico, so that tbe lower part of the house can be emptied in a minute or two. The stairways leading to the galleries debouche into the portico. Thev are wide and easy, and will give no trouble either for ascent or descent.
is second in size to but one in the country. The dimensions given are, depth 70 feet, width 76 feet, and height, that of the building, 72 feet. ‘The proscenium arch is 49 feet high, or 6 feet higher than any in the city. There are two exits from the stage, and consequently no danger from fire in that quarter.
THE PROSCENIUM BOXES
are four in number, in two tiers, and are models of elegance in design as well as of usefulness, for from the any portion of the stage is visible, while the auditorium is of course spread out for inspection. The drop-curtain is something so ambitious, that unless it is finished with consummate skill it will be distressing. The drawing is finished, and Mr. Wahis has succeeded in grouping the into a mos; pleasing . The design is unique. It is essentially allegorical, and contains a thought or two which reflect more than credit upon Mr. Grover, who originated it. Looking back unon
THE MASS OF RAGGED RUINS.
unshapely and for the most part, let the reader call to mind the general configuration of such fragments of wall as remained standing. He will remember that by the failing of certain portions under the windows, a more or less perfect cross was left standing. This figure Mr. Grover has into a central figure, and the centre of the drop is a stone cross, which he designates “The Cross of Chicago.” Around this cross are grouped four figures—Faith, Hope, Charity, and Columbia. Faith represents the Garden City leaning against her symbolic cross: Columbia has thrown her mantle over the figure, Hope stands near offering words of encouragement and summoning a crowd of artisans to rebuild the ruined walls, while Charity sits weeping at the bass of the Cross.
THE INDUSTRIES OF THF CITY
are shadowed forth in the approved style. but the drawing is spirited and full of action and bustling life, and if the execution approaches the design, the drop-curtain of tho Adelphi will be a picture of the most impressive description.
The seats of the auditorium are mainly iron chairs, upholstered in crimson plush as at McVicker’s, and in the upper tiers with leather, while at the back the sofa system is carried out. The lighting will be after a new modeL, so far as the minor lights are concerned; the central light will be a sun-light of the largest size, the reflector in the ceiling measuring 14 feet iu diameter. The conventional
which, at a vast cost, adds little to the comfort of an , is here dispensed with, and Eomethin- far more effective is substituted for it. So far as can be audience, is here dispensed with, and something far more effective is substituted for it. So far as can be determined by experiment with many obstructions in the way, the acoustic properties of the house will be excellent. The three lower tiers are separated by large spaces, while the fourth, suspended from the ceiling, will receive abundance of sound. The curves were designed to meet the double necessity of sight and sound, and, while every part of the theatre is equally blessed in point of sound, the line of sight is such that, standing against the doorway in the parquet circle,—the most trying position one can take,—the tops of the flats can be seen, and, necessarily, the whole of the stage also,
THE FRESCO WORK
on the ceiling is something which strikes the eye immediately on entering. It has been performed in the most tasteful and creditable manner, and the figures are touched up with a softness of finish and delicacy of treatment rare in fresco-work in this century, especially in theatres. In these material preparations we venture to say that a theatre combining the necessary qualifications of elegance and space in an equal degree does not exist on this continent.
With reference to the class of entertainment the management propose to give, only a general idea has been imparted. It will open the house a week from to-morrow with the best variety talent in the country, including certain legitimate dramatic stars. In the future it will give some of the best legitimate dramatic and musical entertainments, at purely popular prices.
THE ADMISSION TO THE THEATRE
will be 50 cents, with 50 cents extra for reserved seats in the orchestra and 25 cents extra for the parquet circle. The balcony and dress circle will cost 50 cents for reserved seats, the grand tier 35 cents, and the gallery 15 cents. There will be no drinking or smoking in this beautiful house, and if Mr. Grover means what he says, the theatre will be as popular with ladies as with anybody else. There is yet some work to do on the decoration of the interior, but the opening will occur a week hence.
Chicago Tribune, January 12, 1875
THE NEW ADELPHI
The opening of the Adelphi Theatre—the old Post-Office building—last evening was witnessed by about the largest audiences Chicago has ever seen. The main floor and three galleries, in other words “from pit to dome,” were thronged by boys and men, with a very few women sandwiched between, and looking rather out of place in the immense gathering. Timid people began to wonder whether the firetried walls would stand the tremendous pressure; but the renovated building remained as firm as some massive Norman castle, nor did the stamping and shouting of the highly-elevated unwashed cause it to vibrate in the least.
There was some delay in the lifting of the curtain, the interval being filled with some very fair murals by the orchestra. Public confidence was fully restored when, in the opening scene, the full company appeared upon the stage, while Brock McVicker, Esq., the Speaker of the hydraulic department of the city, emerged from the hindmost regions of the scenes, and strode lightly as a fawn to the footlights, where he proceeded to read what was termed “a dedicatorial poem” pertinent to the occasion. Mr. McVicker’s classic production was rapturously applauded by appreciative citizens who were near enough to hear him, but the democracy in the upper tiers suggested that he had better repair the bellows, sit down on the floor, “cheese it,” and other polite invitations far beyond the poet’s power to accept. Miss Emma Wells, aided by the company, attempted the “Star Spangled Banner,” which was not an absolute success. The drop curtain was then allowed to roll down, displaying rather a pretty emblematic picture of Chicago, standing by a cross and looking with cheerful countenance on the the sea of flame from which Hopes bade her hope to rise more glorious than before.
The Post-Office Department, headed by Gen. McArthur and Mr. Squires, occupied one of the lower boxes, while in juxtaposition, gleamed the jolly face of Commissioner Hoyne, who was surrounded by a crowd of notables. Many prominent citizens were scattered through the audience, and stood the thing out like men of business.
Mr. Grover, the manager, And Mr. Home, the architect, were both loudly called for, and responding by appearing before the curtain and making a semi-genuflexion. Mr. Grover requested the boys, who were whistling like a gale of wind, to keep quiet, and they would have “a good show.” The manager was dressed a la George Francis Train, in swallow-tail blue coat and brass buttons.
Mr. Grove’s promise was fairly fulfilled, that is considering the opening night. “The Lawyer’s Clock,” was stupid enough, to be sure, but it passed for the time. Miss Maggie Gray has a fine form, but paints the rope too much, and is not happy in her vocal selections. The gymnastic performance of Prof. Faust and his two little boys caused some enthusiasm. Sam Devers, the solo-singer and banjoist, is good enough when he does not swear, and tell stories unfit to be heard by ears polite, all of which Mr. Grove should check without further delay. Mr. Devers may have lived in some rough places, but when he comes into a civilized community he should cease to be a barbarian.
Walters and Morton, song and dance men, were quite funny, although they exhibited nothing that was really novel. Miss Weaver looks well in male attire, and has a passable voice. The sword and sparring performances of Monsieur and Madame D’Omer looked risky, and took well with the audience. Curey, the gymnist, performed some very difficult feats in a graceful manner. Charley Howard as “Old Shady” showed his usual talent for Ethiiopenism of an ancient character. The Worred Sisters and Mr. George K. Fostescue, aided by the company, closed the performance with the burlesque of “Cinderella.”
Mr. Grover, everything considered, may be congratulated on his opening success.
In July and August, 1878, Mr. Haverly entirely reconstructed and redecorated his theater, the reopening taking place August 4, 1878, described at the time as follows:
Haverly has at last succeeded in making his once dingy theater unrecognizable. The outside walls have been thoroughly baptized, until they look as good as new, and the windows are refilled with heavy plate glass. Inside, the regeneration is even more noticeable. There is a new drop curtain, with wholly new scenery and drapings to match. The proscenium-arch and the front of the circles are finished in white and gilt, and the dome, walls and ceilings under the tiers are tastily frescoed, the predominant tints being blue and gold. The folding seats are newly upholstered and new Brussels carpets adorn the aisles. The total cost of the improvements has not been less than $8,500. The house opens tomorrow evening with the Coville Folly Company in the ” Babes in the Wood.”
It was in this house that the first seasons of Italian opera, under the management of Colonel J. H. Mapleson, were given in Chicago, in January, 1879, 1880 and 1881. In 1882 the lease fell in, and the property was leased by the First National Bank, which took down the old building, and erected the present one in its place. Early in 1881, the passing evening crowds inspected with amazement a single incandescent bulb hung at the entrance to the Adelphi Theatre at Madison and Dearborn Streets. Current for the lamp was furnished by Bradner Smith & Company which had installed a steam engine to generate lighting in their office and warehouse. Later, current was supplied for the vaults of the First National Bank of Chicago.
When the shadows of destruction had foregathered about it, and the stately outlines of the now First National Bank Building began to erect themselves into a solid intention, Mr. Haverly carried his name across Monroe street and bestowed it upon the structure which bears it now.
The theater was a surprise to every one, even in Chicago, where celerity is a prevailing habit and Time has in most things been knocked out of time. The first stone was turned upon the ground on the 12th of June, 1881. Ninety days later on the 12th of September the new theater, completed at every point, was thrown open to the public. If the world can offer another case in which a permanent edifice of equal size, beauty, ana solidity was so well and so rapidly put together, this writer has yet to learn of it.
The theater is admittedly the most popular in the city, and its conveniences include everything that up to the time of its erection was known to modern stage mechanism. It is the only theater in the city which has the Edison incandescent electric light in every department. This light is used on the entire stage, in the dressing-rooms, auditorium, private boxes, foyer, vestibule, aud offices, while the facade of the house is brilliantly illuminated by Edison arc lights. The theater is thus rendered perfectly free from the noxious odors of coal gas, and by an improved system of ventilation the atmosphere of the auditorium is kept perfectly pure, and therefore healthful.
In addition to the largest and most comfortable seating capacity, Haverly’s Theater has twenty-one private boxes, all luxuriously furnished and commanding: a full view of the stage. Retiring-rooms and cloak-rooms for both ladies and gentlemen are connected with the foyer, and during the winter the house is thoroughly warmed by steam radiator. The main floor is on a level with Monroe street, and unlike any other South Side theater, occupants of the parquette and parquette circle and the private boxes have not a single step to climb.
Pictorial Diagram of the Auditorium
The First National Bank secured a lease of the ground from the School Board, and erected a $500,000 block upon it in 1882.