A jewel of Chicago theater since 1898, the Studebaker Theater first emerged as a music and opera hall 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, and the Studebaker remained mostly unused until 2014, when work began to restore the theater. 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.

While we strongly encourage all guests to bring and wear masks during their visit, masks are no longer required during events at the Studebaker Theater. As a continued service, we will have complementary masks on hand for guests who would prefer to wear one. We ask that our audiences bring their own masks as often as possible.

We continue to use health guidelines provided by the CDC and the community example of peer organizations to guide and implement changes to our mask policy. As we remain informed surrounding the trends and suggested guidelines regarding masking, we will share their impact on any future changes to the overall Studebaker Theater audience experience.

Bring your Show to the Studebaker

From its origins as a music hall 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.