The Biograph Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. It opened on September 5,1914 as a movie venue. It had 942 seats on a single floor. The architect was Samuel Crowen.
The building style is classical revival. Features included store front width lobby, recessed entry, free standing ticket booth. Exterior was finished with red pressed brick and white glazed terra cotta. In the 1970’s, the second floor was converted to two small auditoriums each with its own screen. Movies were shown until 2001. The theater was closed until 2002. It reopened under management of Village Theaters. It closed again In 2004.
In July 2004, the building was purchased by Victory Guardian Theater (a professional theater company). An architect named Daniel Coffers was hired to supervise a multimillion dollar renovation. Included in the project was a proscenium thrust stage, seating in the main auditorium was reduced to 209, restoration of grand stair case, conversion of the second floor to 135 seat studio theater and an adjacent rehearsal room/multiuse theater. Facades of the theater and adjacent buildings were restored to the 1934 appearances. The remodeling project was completed in 2006. The name of the theater was changed to Victory Gardens at the Biograph.
During the years that the Biograph operated as a movie theater, it was managed by multiple movie chains. These included: Cineplex Odeon, Essaness Theater Corporation, Lowes Cineplex, Lubliner and Trinz, Meridian Theater, Plitt Theaters, and Village Theaters.
The Biograph Theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Spaces in 5/17/1984.
It was named a Chicago Landmark on 3/28/2001.
The area around the Biograph Theater is probably best known as the site where John Dillinger was shot and killed on in July 22, 1934. He was attending a showing of Manhattan Melodrama (starting Clark Gable). After leaving the theater, he was confronted by a group of FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis. He was killed in the alley adjacent to the theater.