Building 51 | Building 51 | c. 1920’s american rococo style art glass interior wall-mount uptown theater illuminated cast bronze sconces with largely intact gilded finish – rapp & rapp, architects
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c. 1920’s american rococo style art glass interior wall-mount uptown theater illuminated cast bronze sconces with largely intact gilded finish – rapp & rapp, architects



Chicago Theatres

About This Item

completely original and well-maintained documented wall-mount interior uptown theater (extant) illuminated art glass single light sconces designed, fabricated and customized by victor s. pearlman & company, chicago, il. the exceptionally designed electric wall sconce fixtures are bedecked with heavily ornamented cast bronze filigree surrounding the tapered and tiered art glass shade. the original gilded ormolu (i.e., metallic gold-plated finish) remains largely intact, with a nicely aged surface patina. the rococo style theater wall sconces feature intricate basket weaves, foliated scrollwork and flowers throughout. the tiffany cased glass shades contain a dark pink exterior and white or “milk glass” interior. when the fixtures are illuminated, they give off a warm and richly colored orange glow. the faceted “crystal” or glass ball-shaped top finials are secured by a diminutive bronze rosette. the two matching sconces, along with a single ceiling-mount pendant light that once adorned the auditorium, were removed well over 30 years ago and remained together in a theater memorabilia collection that was recently sold off. the uptown theatre (also known as the balaban and katz uptown theatre) is a massive, ornate movie palace located in the uptown neighborhood of chicago. the uptown was designed by the architectural firm of rapp and rapp, and constructed in 1925. the theater was the last of the “big three” movie palaces built by the balaban & katz theatre chain run by a. j. balaban, his brother barney balaban and their partner sam katz. the uptown theater is considered the largest theater in chicago, with its 4,381 seats and its interior auditorium said to be larger than any other movie palace in the united states, including radio city music hall in new york. the theater and lobby occupy over 46,000 square of land at the corner of lawrence avenue and broadway in chicago’s uptown entertainment district. the gargantuan theater contains an ornate five story entrance lobby with an eight story exterior facade. the uptown theatre opened its doors on august 18, 1925, and was billed as “an acre of seats in a magic city.” the grand opening of the uptown theatre was accompanied by a “central uptown parade” of over 200 floats and a grand ball at harmon’s arcadia in uptown. over 12,000 people stood in line to be ticketholders as the very first audience to occupy the auditorium. the theater opened with a staff of over 130 people, including a full-time 34-piece orchestra, a nurse, firemen and numerous other positions to handle its operations. a rather elaborate stage show production would accompany each movie with a theme pertaining to the movie that would follow. other chains that occupied the theater would offer basic vaudeville acts to keep movie patrons entertained before the beginning of the movie. through the years movies at the uptown theatre continued, long after the stage shows ended as a means to reduce costs. however, beginning in 1949, stage shows were revived, but only for a short period of time. movies continued to run during the 1950’s and 1960’s. retail in the uptown area in the early 1970’s declined and so too did the audiences dwindle throughout the remainder of the decade. attempts were made to revive the theater by converting it into a concert venue where a number of national acts performed. during the winter of 1981, the theater finally closed its doors to regular audiences and/or events. since that time burst water pipes, continued neglect and vandalism has greatly compromised the integrity of both exterior and interior design elements. in 2006, the exterior was stabilized and terra cotta sections were cataloged and stored for future restoration efforts. a may 21, 2007 article in crain’s chicago business described the uptown theatre as “suddenly a hot property,” as three national entertainment companies were in competition to purchase, restore and reopen the uptown theatre. it is estimated it will take roughly $40 million dollars to fully rehabilitate the theater for use as a functional venue.