Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Village North Theater (or The New 400)

Again, you'll need to click on this to see it full-size.

Rogers Park's architectural appeal is subtle.  Which is perfect for me, since I'm typically drawn to buildings which are overlooked. 

Let's take the 1905 Village North Theater at Sheridan and Columbia.  Formerly known as "The 400" it's now under new ownership.  Here we have the last remaining neighborhood theater in Rogers Park.  The Grenada is long gone.  The Adelphi is recently gone, along with several smaller theaters on Clark that I've only seen on old Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  The Ridgeland Theater on Devon near Clark is now a part of Devon Hardware.  The Howard Theater was converted into condos. The Village North survived by multiplexing and charging as little as possible.  This was reflected in the condition of the building, which began to leak and shed terra cotta. 

But the new owners received some assistance to renovate the building and repair the facade.  Unfortunately they used reinforced concrete replacement units which don't really match the cream-colored terra cotta.  They're kind of a sickly yellow. 
But at least this ornament on the corner of the building was in good shape.  I can't imagine their budget would have allowed for this to be replicated.  The figure is probably a muse and those ropes of leaves and fruits are festoons, symbols of plenty.  There was similar ornament inside the theater, but most of it has been covered up.  Or possibly removed outright.

This is a good example of a building with limited local significance.  But in Rogers Park, which has limited opportunities for non-alcohol related recreation, it's extremely important.  Too bad the old Atomic Cafe (which adjoined the theater) is long gone.  But there's a Starbucks there now, which is better than nothing.

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