2020 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Victory Gardens Theater - Chicago

Grant amount: $1,000

The Biograph Theater is located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The two-story brick building was designed to accommodate stores and a theater space originally intended for the exhibition of motion pictures. It was finished in 1915 from plans prepared by Samuel N. Crowen, a local Chicago architect. One of only two remaining examples of Chicago’s early film theaters, the Biograph Theater retains many of the distinguishing characteristics of the earliest movie houses, including a simple storefront-width lobby, recessed entrance, free-standing ticket booth and canopy marquee.

Victory Gardens Theater purchased the historic structure in 2004, after the property had been vacant for a number of years. Following a successful $11.8 million capital campaign and an extensive renovation, Victory Gardens opened its theater center in 2006. Today, the Biograph Theater is synonymous with Victory Gardens. However, despite continuous operation in the facility since 2006, there have been a number of deferred maintenance needs over the last decade that have left the building in a precarious condition. Facilities staff continually struggle with emergency maintenance issues and lack a sustainable long-term plan for upkeep of the Biograph. Victory Gardens Theater plans to hire Bauer Latoza Studio to conduct a Building Assessment Report and will use the $1,000 matching grant from Landmarks Illinois to help pay for the service.

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