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Theater on the Lake gets multimillion dollar facelift

Written by
Jonathan Samples

The Chicago Park District on Monday broke ground on a $6 million renovation of Theater on the Lake, a decades-old entertainment and cultural venue located along Lake Michigan at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Lakefront Hospitality Group is funding Theater on the Lake’s multimillion dollar makeover, which the park district says will turn the venue into a multi-use facility that can be used throughout the year.

The building—originally constructed in 1920—will be divided into three sections, including a new 330-seat main theater with enhanced lighting, an upgraded sound system, and new green rooms and dressing rooms. Plans also call for two adjacent event spaces with access to a lakefront terrace and a public restaurant that will include a semicircular outdoor patio with a skyline view. Renovations should be completed by summer 2017.

“Improvements to Theater on the Lake will dramatically heighten the amazing production quality of this unique performance space and expand our capacity to offer professional world-class theatre, as part of the year-long Night Out in the Park initiative, to our patrons from a year-round location,” Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly said in a release. “The building’s new amenities allow us to accommodate patrons who just want to relax, while catering to guests celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a casual dining experience along the lake.”

The park district added that it would work to uphold the historical aesthetics of the 96-year-old building, which was used as a USO Center during World War II. It was eventually purchased by the park district and converted into the Theater on the Lake performance venue in 1952. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a shoreline protection project at Fullerton Avenue Beach, which added approximately 5.8 acres of space around the Theater on the Lake building.

Courtesy Chicago Park District

Courtesy Chicago Park District

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