WIN: Apollo’s 2000 / former Marshall Square Theater Receives Final Landmark Recommendation

Final Landmark Recommendation Approved on February 8, 2024 for Apollo’s 2000 / Marshall Square Theater, 1917 by Alexander Levy with 1936 remodel by Roy B. Blass, 2875 W. Cermak Road. Image credit: Chicago DPD Twitter
Evelyn Stell, Javier, Lidia and Naomi Galindo pose for a photo in Apollo’s 2000, 2875 W. Cermak Rd., in Little Village on Dec. 5, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Apollo’s 2000 / Marshall Square Theater, 1917 by Alexander Levy with 1936 remodel by Roy B. Blass, 2875 W. Cermak Road. Historic photo credit: Apollo’s 2000

“The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved a final landmark recommendation for Apollo’s 2000. Located at 2875 W. Cermak, the popular performance and event venue was formerly known as Marshall Square Theatre and was built in 1917 by architect Alexander L Levy.

“The building meets Criterion 1 for its value as an example of city, state, or national heritage. Apollo’s 2000 is the last surviving theater commissioned by Louis and Meyer Marks, Chicago movie exhibitors and theater builders whose business began with a nickelodeon in 1910 to building two of Chicago largest movie palaces, the Granada and Marbro theater in the late 1920s. Since 1990, Apollo’s 2000 has transformed the historic theater to an event and performance space that contributes to the cultural landscape of Little Village and Chicago’s wider Hispanic community by promoting Latin music, lectures and supporting local non-profit organizations.

“Landmarks staff also identified the building as meeting Criterion 4 for its exemplary architecture. The former Marshall Square Theatre is a significant transitional motion picture theater in Chicago from 1917 spanning the small nickelodeons that came before it and the larger and more elaborate movie palaces of the 1920s. With its large arch framed by domed towers, as well as its sculptural eagles, and its ornament derived from classicism, the building is a fine example of Beaux-Arts Architecture applied to an early motion picture theater. The scale and ornate quality of the building’s architecture, on both its interior and exterior, reflect the ideals of historic movie theater design to use architecture as advertisement and to attract customers with a promise of luxury and escape from the ordinary.

“As a 107-year-old motion picture theater, Apollo’s 2000 retains sufficient physical integrity to convey its historic and architectural value, meeting the Integrity Criterion. Changes to the exterior of the building include refacing of the blade sign and evolution of the marquee, which are common changes to historic movie theaters which frequently updated marquees and signage. Other changes to the exterior include new exterior doors, windows and storefront alterations. These changes are typical for commercial buildings and do not impair the building’s ability to convey its value.

“The blade sign and marquee have always been part of the building’s exterior elevations. As with many historic theaters, these features have evolved over time in terms of size, material and illumination. The Commission’s review of work proposed to the blade sign or marquee should ensure that these continue to be features of the building, while allowing reasonable change and flexibility to meet new needs. 1990 changes to the interiors of the lobby and auditorium, including floor finishes, new floor platforms, three bars, neon lighting, chandeliers, stage lighting and its ceiling-mounted trusses, cameras, screens, and bathrooms are specifically excluded from the significant historical and architectural features.” (Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 2/18/24)

“‘While many of our downtown movie palaces have thankfully found new life as Broadway theaters or concert venues, these neighborhood movie palaces continue to disappear,’ Preservation Chicago’s Max Chavez said.’ during public testimony in support of Chicago Landmark Designation at the Commission on Chicago Landmark meeting on December 8, 2023 (Krauser, WBBM Newsradio 780 AM, 12/8/23)

“Designed by Alexander Levy as the Marshall Square Theater, this venue showcased both vaudeville acts and movies when it opened in 1917. Levy gained recognition for designing the Douglas Park Auditorium and the Granada, among other renowned buildings. The theater began showing movies exclusively in 1936 and was remodeled by architect Roy B. Blass, who added a soaring Art Deco vertical sign to the building’s classical revival façade. The theater, re-named Apollo’s 2000, went through an extensive restoration and renovation in the 1990s. Truly grand inside and out, today the building is rented out as a banquet hall and is occasionally used as a music venue.” (Open House Chicago)

Preservation Chicago has been in contact with the owners of the Apollo’s 2000 Theater. We applaud Evelyn Stell, Javier, Lidia and Naomi Galindo for their decades-long loving stewardship of this historic Chicago theater and fully support this effort to designate the theater and Chicago Landmark. This is an important step for the building that will provide additional recognition, celebration and the possibly of Adopt-a-Landmark restoration funding, and we will support this effort every step of the way.

Read the full story at Urbanize Chicago



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