175 N. State Street
Restored: 1986 Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates and the city of Chicago.
Architects: Rapp & Rapp
The lavish revivalist architecture common to the work of the Chicago based Rapp brothers and other motion picture theater designers of their time is richly manifest in the adornments of the triumphal arch motif central to the Chicago Theater’s State Street facade. Off-white terra-cotta sheathing has been shaped into neo-baroque ornament, while the interior is abundant in French Second Empire decor. The marquee and the six-story vertical sign are later additions. The motion picture palace experience that enthralled the nation during the 1920s was neatly rationalized by George Rapp who wrote, ‘Watch the eyes of a child as [he] enters the portals of our great theaters and treads the pathway into fairyland…Here is a shrine to democracy where there are no privileged patron. The wealthy rub elbows with the poor and are better for it.’ During the last generation, such sentiment has lost much of it’s idealized gloss, just as the theaters themselves have been replaced.Chicago’s Famous Buildings (5th edition), Franz Schulze + Kevin Harrington