Grand Opera House (Chicago)

The Grand Opera House was a theatre located at 119 North Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois. Established by Chicago impresario John A. Hamlin, the theatre originally opened as the Coliseum in 1875 and was later rebranded as Hamlin's Theatre in 1878. Initially a disreputable variety theatre catering to lowbrow tastes, the theatre was completely reinvented after an extensive and expensive remodel and reconstruction led by architect Dankmar Adler. It reopened in 1880 as the Grand Opera House; now under the management of Harry L. Hamlin who ran the theatre for the next 32 years under that name. Under his tenure the venue became a respectable theatre which featured mainly performances of light operas and musical comedies; although some plays were also performed.[1] In 1888 the well known painter and scenic designer Ernest Albert re-designed the interior of the opera house.[2]

In 1912 the theatre was renamed George M. Cohan's Grand Opera House when George M. Cohan and Sam H. Harris took over the lease of the theatre. They operated the theatre into the early 1920s. The theatre then went through another extensive remodel and construction under architect Andrew Rebori before re-opening as the Four Cohans Theatre in 1926; now under co-ownershp by Cohan and the Shubert family. In 1928 the Shubert family became the sole owners of the theatre, and it was once again named the Grand Opera House. It continued under this name into the early 1940s.[1]

The theatre was purchased by RKO Pictures and remodeled and reconstructed again; this time with the purpose of changing the theatre into a movie palace to showcase RKO's films. It reopened as the RKO Grand Theatre in 1942. The theatre closed in March 1958 and was later demolished in May 1962 to make way for the construction of the Richard J. Daley Center which is situated on the same property.[1]

Notable premieres



  1. ^ a b c Konrad Schiecke (2011). "1875 Coliseum/ 1878 Hamlin's Theatre/ 1880 Grand Opera House / 1912 George M. Cohan's Grand Opera /House / 1926 Four Cohans / 1942 RKO Grand Theatre". Downtown Chicago's Historic Movie Theatres. McFarland & Company. pp. 50–56. ISBN 9780786488650.
  2. ^ "Chicago Opera House Changes". Chicago Tribune. December 24, 1888. p. 3. Retrieved March 7, 2024 – via
  3. ^ "Chicago's New Spectacle.; 'Bluebeard, Jr.,' as Presented by Manager Henderson". The New York Times. Chicago (published June 13, 1889). June 12, 1889. p. 5. Retrieved March 7, 2024 – via

41°53′03″N 87°37′49″W / 41.8842°N 87.6304°W / 41.8842; -87.6304