The Davis Theater is the recipient of the 2018 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation. Located at 4614 Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, the project rejuvenated the longest continually operating theater in Chicago. Built in 1918, the theater had gone through numerous adaptations and reconfigurations throughout the years that attempted to meet the needs of modern theater-goers. This left much of the historic elements covered, damaged or missing. The building also lacked sufficient amenities and facilities. Scope of work included combining two of the four theaters in order to return the building to its original 1930s, three-screen format. The larger main theater retained its sloped-floor seating and exposed the previously concealed pipe organs that flanked the original proscenium arch and stage. In the two smaller theaters, stadium style seating was incorporated to accommodate large modern restroom facilities. New seating, screens, digital projection equipment and surround sound systems were introduced to meet modern needs without altering the original historic character of the space. Intact decorative ceiling mounding, crowns, capitals and pilasters were restored and replicas were fabricated in kind based on originals. Many of the Art Deco light fixtures, hardware, doors and other details in the theaters lobby were cleaned and retained. Adjacent storefront spaces allowed for the addition of a full-service lounge, restaurant and bar.
The rehabilitation of the Davis Theater made possible the continued use of this 100-year-old community landmark. By incorporating modern amenities and technology with historic fabric, the project provides a more functional space for patrons to enjoy.
Tom Fencl (owner)
MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC
All 2018 Award Recipients
(Photo credit: Chris Bradley Photography)