McVickers Theatre / Chicago

1894 Lithograph


James McVicker (1822-96) was the top theatre manager in Chicago for much of the 19th century. The 1857 playhouse that bore his name (designed by Otis Wheelock) on Madison Street had been destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and ultimately had to be rebuilt four times during its long history,becoming a vaudiville hall and later a movie house (1922) before finally being razed in 1984.

Although actor-manager McVicker built it in for his own company, it was better known for showcasing the stock procession of stars who passed through. Only McVicker's Theatre would be able to meet the high standards for production values they were accustomed to receiving in Europe or New York when touring the still-largely unsettled United States.


Lithograph / 1880s


Programs available from this theatre:

  • Linsey Woolsey (1895)

  • The Cotton King (1895)

  • "...the most beautiful theatre West of the Allegheny Mountains"


    As a Vaudeville hall


    1903 street-level scene


    Return to Index of Theatres