The Davis Theater, was originally known as the Pershing Theater. The Pershing Theater was built in 1918 and was named after First World War General of the Armies, John J. Pershing. It is the only remaining theater of five built in Lincoln Square, and one of the few neighborhood theaters still operating in Chicago. The building was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, who was also responsible for the design of other famous buildings such as the Uptown Broadway Building in Chicago and the Roxy Theater in New York City. The Pershing opened showing vaudeville and silent films; it’s first being The Forbidden City. In the 1930s, the Pershing was converted to show talkies and was renamed the Davis Theater.
Starting in the 1952, the theater attempted to appeal to the cultural influences in the neighborhood by showing German-language films in addition to American films. The theater then transitioned to showing a variety of entertainment including puppet shows, second run films, and revivals through the 1970s.
A few closings and re-openings throughout the next few decades till it was bought out in the late 90’s where it has remained a first run theatre ever since. In January of 2016 the theatre was closed for renovation and brought back to life in its current state as a historical landmark and community center for cinema and the arts. The architecture firm for the renovation was Kennedy Mann.
Did you know? The Davis Theater is the longest continually operated theater in Chicago. In 2018 we were awarded the Award for Rehabilitation by Landmarks Illinois.