Desolate Theater

Date of Visit: December 2, 2012 There's a theater that was built in 1924.  It was originally a vaudeville theater but eventually became a movie house (like all the old vaudeville stages).  The town declined as the post-war industrial boom died down, and the neighborhood it stood in turned rough.  In 1968, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death in the lobby.  It wasn't long after that before the theater was closed for good.  There have been talks of restoring the theater for years, but as you can see, there really isn't much point.  It's so far beyond repair.  There is barely a vestige of grandeur left here.  But there are a few things: The Italian villa painted on the curtain, the ornamentation around one of the few remaining light fixtures, and the grand piano moldering in the orchestra pit. Ah yes, the grand piano.  I get obsessed by the little things, and so I thought I'd look into the piano manufacturer's history a bit.  It was built by Adam Schaaf of Chicago.  Adam was an Englishman who immigrated to Chicago at the age of 20 and began producing upright, grand, and player pianos.  His company was created in 1873 and were very successful - at their peak, they had showrooms downtown and on the west side of Chicago, and a huge factory at S. Central Park and Fillmore.  They advertised their pianos as budget-priced but high quality.  I believe him.  After all, look at how intact that piano is compared to the rest of the theater?  Adam died in 1902 and his sons Henry and Fred took over the company, but they couldn't make it through the Great Depression and went bankrupt.  All of the buildings associated with the company have long been demolished as well.  *sniffle* (Ephemera:  Here's Adam Schaaf's grave which I visited in Rosehill Cemetery long before I knew who he was.)

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