A jewel of Chicago theater since 1898, the Studebaker Theater first emerged as a Vaudeville playhouse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hosting a variety of acts and performers.

Image Description: Historic photograph of the Studebaker Theater's arched proscenium and balconies.

From the outset, the theater was noted as exceptionally beautiful and acoustically superior. It originally featured an arched proscenium, until a major reconstruction in 1917 enlarged the proscenium, rebuilt the side-walls, and constructed a new main floor, balcony, and gallery. The only piece that remained the same through the reconstruction was the original 1898 ceiling, which survives today.

 

Following the stock market crash in 1929, the Studebaker began leasing to a variety of itinerant groups including the Central Church, which held services there 1944-1950. From 1950-1955, the theater was used as studios for NBC. From then, it operated under a series of organizations until 1982, when the space was converted into a movie theater complex, housing 4 screens that showed mostly art and independent films.

Image Description: NBC executives in the Studebaker Theater.

The movie theaters closed in 2000, remaining mostly unused until 2014, when work began to restore both the Studebaker. Another major renovation began in 2021, revitalizing the historic Studebaker by honoring the history of the space while advancing its technological capacity for contemporary multidisciplinary performance and bringing this one of a kind theater into its next chapter.

The Fine Arts theater team makes no little plans

by Kerry Reid | Chicago Reader, August 13, 2021

Image Description: View of the Studebaker Theater stage from the Mezzanine level.


Studebaker Theater inside Chicago’s Fine Arts Building will get a major renovation

by Chris Jones | Chicago Tribune, August 2, 2021

Image Description: Closeup of balconies at the Studebaker Theater.

Bring your Show to the Studebaker

From its origins as a vaudeville house to its time as a cinema complex, through reconstructions and restorations, the Studebaker has been home to Chicago’s premier productions. Yours could be next.

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Studebaker Theater is operated by Arts Entertainment LLC.

Please note that in accordance with CDC guidelines and the emergency executive order issued by the State of Illinois, the Fine Arts Building requires all visitors to wear a mask or other face covering while indoors.

Additionally, proof of vaccination is required in order to attend any and all live performances at the Fine Arts Building’s Studebaker Theater.

Thank you for your cooperation.