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Saving Another Historic Theater

King Richard’s, LTD., a Chicago-based architectural salvage firm, continues its efforts to rescue valuable artifacts from the wrecking ball. In a recent one-week span, the NADC member completed three salvage operations in Chicago on structures built in the early part of the century.

King Richard’s took advantage of an unseasonably warm spring week to mobilize its crews. First up was the removal of a granite-column entryway from a historic four-story apartment building on the city’s north side. Working with chipping hammers and brick trucks, King Richard’s was able to complete the job in two days. Just as the last pieces were being loaded on a flatbed for a five-state journey to their new home, fellow NADC-member National recking began salvaging storm windows and other more common recyclables.

On Friday of the same week, King Richard’s had a crew on top of the Milford Theatre, a movie house slated for demolition on the following Monday by NADC-member K&B Wrecking. In a single day, King Richard’s crew saved all significant interior and exterior pieces.

First, they tackled the three foot tall terra cotta eagle that had perched on top of the building since 1912. Because it stood above the roof line, it was easily –though carefully– disassembled and lowered to the street. But that was just a warm up. The gem of the Milford was a 16-foot long terra cotta pediment, which had to be removed piece by piece with a surgeon’s skill. An afternoon of careful chipping and brute force brought all 16 segments of the pediment safely to the ground.

But the week still wasn’t over. While the Milford salvage was in progress, King Richard’s owner Rick Lair was picking up a truckload of carved stone from the old Owl Theatre, a long-abandoned building finally