Building 51 | Building 51 | c. 1930’s art deco exterior nortown theater facade “comedy” and “tragedy” figural glazed terra cotta frieze panel with marbleized finish – american terra cotta company, chicago, il.
9151
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c. 1930’s art deco exterior nortown theater facade “comedy” and “tragedy” figural glazed terra cotta frieze panel with marbleized finish – american terra cotta company, chicago, il.

51-16743-13

51-16742-13

51-16744-13

Category

Chicago Theatres

About This Item

visually distinctive early 1930’s american art deco exterior speckled glaze exterior terra cotta frieze panel salvaged from the non-extant nortown theater facade prior to demolition. a large single-sided ornamental panel features a striking chevron motif with “comedy” mask surrounded by by elegant scrolls and floral motifs. the second large single-sided ornamental panel features the continued chevron and floral motifs. the last panel features the same chevron motif with a figural “tragedy” mask. the original off-white marbleized finish remains largely intact, with surface discoloration evident from years of exposure to the elements. the panel was fabricated by the american terra cotta company, chicago, il. the multitude of cavities on the backside have been cleaned from brick and mortar. the steel anchors were carefully removed as well. the atmospheric nortown theater was designed and built in 1931 by architect j.e.o. pridmore and the paschen brothers as general contractors. containing over 2000 seats, the auditorium was modeled after the mediterranean region of europe, with an italian courtyard overlooking the sea. the walls gave off an illusion of a seascape and garden scene containing the exteriors of villas with tile rooftops. the audience was seated in full view of the ocean, with lighthouse effect and ships passing in the offing. the nortown was considered the first theater given a pronounced marine treatment. the auditorium ceiling was designed to emulate an “april constellation,” with astronomy professor j.c. penn of the armour institute, commissioned to arrange the stars in their proper places to insure an authentic layout. located in chicago, the theater was torn down in 2007. urban remains salvaged the interior and exterior ornament for nearly half a year.