Theater on the Lake

  • 2401 N. Lake Shore Dr.   Chicago, Illinois 60614 [View Map]
  • Facility Hours:
  • Facility Phone: (312) 763-8165

The newly renovated 19,000 square feet Theater on the Lake is located at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, in a historic building that offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Chicago's skyline.

 
Renovations to Theater on the Lake will now allow for expanded programming beyond the traditional summer season and will make the lakefront a welcoming place for residents and visitors to enjoy recreational and cultural activities on Chicago’s lakefront.

 

Theater on the Lake’s new redesign preserves the historical aesthetics of the structure while incorporating modern elements to transform it into a versatile, multi-use, year-round venue. The Prairie-style structure designed by architect Dwight Perkins, who also fashioned the nearby Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lion House and the North Pond Café, will now feature a new permanent stage with professional lighting and sound systems and dressing rooms. There are no permanent chairs in the facility, which allows for a flexible setup that can accommodate up to 1,500 attendees in the entire venue. In addition, those attending a live theater or music show in the 330-seat performance space will enter the facility through the newly enclosed lobby and box office.

The vast facelift also includes a restaurant with an event space, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, a full bar, outdoor seating, office space, and restrooms. The south end of the lakefront terrace will serve as a space for al fresco dining and the rest will be available for use by private event rentals.

The facility is owned by the Chicago Park District and is managed and operated by the Lakefront Hospitality Group.

To learn more about hosting your event at this newly renovated location visit us at www.theateronthelake.com or contact  Jay Weidner at jay@theateronthelake.com.

History

Designed in 1913 and constructed in 1920, the Theatre on the Lake was originally built as the Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Fund Sanitarium. It was preceded by two successive open-air "floating hospitals" in Lincoln Park that were built between the 1870s and the 1900s on piers on Lake Michigan. The breezes through these wooden shelters were believed to cure babies suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases. In 1914, the Chicago Daily News offered to fund a more permanent sanitarium building. Constructed in 1920 on a landfill area, the impressive Prairie style structure was one of several Lincoln Park buildings designed by Dwight H. Perkins of the firm Perkins, Fellows, and Hamilton. Perkins, an important Chicago social reformer and Prairie School architect designed several Lincoln Park buildings including Café Brauer, the Lion House in the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the North Pond Café. The impressive Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Sanitarium building was constructed in brick with a steel arched pavilion with 250 basket baby cribs, nurseries and rooms for older children. Free health services, milk and lunches were provided to more than 30,000 children each summer until 1939, when the sanitarium closed. Major reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive led to the demolition of the building's front entrance. During World War II, the structure became an official recreation center for the United Service Organization (USO). The Chicago Park District converted the building to Theatre on the Lake in 1953. Summer theater continues to thrive at this unique lakefront location.

Parking and Directions

Paid parking is available at the Lincoln Park Zoo located at Fullerton Avenue and Cannon Drive. CTA bus routes 151 or 156 both serve the area; for schedules, contact the RTA/CTA at (312) 836-7000.

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Description

The newly renovated 19,000 square feet Theater on the Lake is located at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, in a historic building that offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Chicago's skyline.

 
Renovations to Theater on the Lake will now allow for expanded programming beyond the traditional summer season and will make the lakefront a welcoming place for residents and visitors to enjoy recreational and cultural activities on Chicago’s lakefront.

 

Theater on the Lake’s new redesign preserves the historical aesthetics of the structure while incorporating modern elements to transform it into a versatile, multi-use, year-round venue. The Prairie-style structure designed by architect Dwight Perkins, who also fashioned the nearby Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lion House and the North Pond Café, will now feature a new permanent stage with professional lighting and sound systems and dressing rooms. There are no permanent chairs in the facility, which allows for a flexible setup that can accommodate up to 1,500 attendees in the entire venue. In addition, those attending a live theater or music show in the 330-seat performance space will enter the facility through the newly enclosed lobby and box office.

The vast facelift also includes a restaurant with an event space, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, a full bar, outdoor seating, office space, and restrooms. The south end of the lakefront terrace will serve as a space for al fresco dining and the rest will be available for use by private event rentals.

The facility is owned by the Chicago Park District and is managed and operated by the Lakefront Hospitality Group.

To learn more about hosting your event at this newly renovated location visit us at www.theateronthelake.com or contact  Jay Weidner at jay@theateronthelake.com.

 

FACILITIES

FACILITY TYPE ADDRESS DESCRIPTOR QTY NOTES
Designed in 1913 and constructed in 1920, the Theatre on the Lake was originally built as the Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Fund Sanitarium. It was preceded by two successive open-air "floating hospitals" in Lincoln Park that were built between the 1870s and the 1900s on piers on Lake Michigan. The breezes through these wooden shelters were believed to cure babies suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases. In 1914, the Chicago Daily News offered to fund a more permanent sanitarium building. Constructed in 1920 on a landfill area, the impressive Prairie style structure was one of several Lincoln Park buildings designed by Dwight H. Perkins of the firm Perkins, Fellows, and Hamilton. Perkins, an important Chicago social reformer and Prairie School architect designed several Lincoln Park buildings including Café Brauer, the Lion House in the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the North Pond Café. The impressive Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Sanitarium building was constructed in brick with a steel arched pavilion with 250 basket baby cribs, nurseries and rooms for older children. Free health services, milk and lunches were provided to more than 30,000 children each summer until 1939, when the sanitarium closed. Major reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive led to the demolition of the building's front entrance. During World War II, the structure became an official recreation center for the United Service Organization (USO). The Chicago Park District converted the building to Theatre on the Lake in 1953. Summer theater continues to thrive at this unique lakefront location.
Paid parking is available at the Lincoln Park Zoo located at Fullerton Avenue and Cannon Drive. CTA bus routes 151 or 156 both serve the area; for schedules, contact the RTA/CTA at (312) 836-7000.