26 March, 2008

Art Deco Exit Light from Esquire Theatre in Chicago

After four long weeks, it's finally here. I won this nifty exit light on eBay last month, and the seller decided to send it parcel post from Hawaii all the way to Chicago! I had assumed (and should have verified) from the shipping/handling fee that it was going priority. But no.

So, after weeks of wondering where the heck it was, if it was ever going to get here, and if so, what condition it would be in, it arrived. I was quite nervous when I saw the package, too, as it was dented in on one side. When I opened it, I saw that the exit light was wrapped in a single layer of bubble wrap and had maybe an inch on each side with crumpled paper. It's fine, but seriously, what is up with some eBay sellers? I would never ship a fragile glass lamp via parcel post and package it so roughly. Grrr.

I love love the lamp. We plan on putting it in the stairwell of the enclosed porches by the back door. How cool will that be? Of course, it's not going to get hung for a long while. We're still trying to decide exactly how we will re-do the back porches, which will involve some rewiring and perhaps new ceilings. And the lamp, which may have been converted at some point as a plug in--although the switch is some rather ancient-looking bakelite piece, so I don't know for sure--will need to be hardwired for our purposes.

OK, so here's the back story, supposedly (and on eBay, without documentation, I take most claims with a grain of salt) : The exit lamp is from the Esquire Theatre in downtown Chicago. The seller bought it at an auction while in Chicago.

Now, I am a huge junkie of old movie palaces and theatres. Our condo in Chicago is just two blocks away from the Balaban & Katz Uptown Theatre, which is closed at the moment, but is perhaps the largest movie palace ever built. I so miss walking past this theatre every day and hope my tenants appreciate it--if they've even noticed it, because from the outside it's hard to tell what's inside now. I collect Chicago movie house memorabilia when I can afford to, so when I spotted this lamp I had to have it and justified the purchase because, after all, we need a new lamp for the stairwell anyway!

I have some acquaintances at the Theatre Historical Society, so when I get the chance I'll check out the archives and see if I can spot the light in one of the pictures. The Esquire was built in the late thirties, and the light fits the role. But even if I can't validate it, it sure is a cool period piece.


Jean Martha said...

I am making loud oooohhhhh and ahhhhhh noises over here. That light is deeply cool.

I'm green with envy. But that's ok, green looks good on me.

Marilyn said...

Hahaha I'm following Jean around.

No seriously - that is a find of awesome movie palace proportions! The Esquire, no less! It's gorgeous.

We used to live near the Music Box - ever do the Wizard of Oz sing-a-long night?

Joanne said...

Jean -- Green is so my color! One of the few I can wear that won't clash with the reddish hair and pink cheeks.

Marilyn -- I used to live within walking distance of the Music Box, too! I was on Melrose, just north of Belmont and just east of Southport. This was mid-nineties, before the neighborhood was really gentrified. I didn't see the Wizard of Oz sing-a-long, but I did do the Sound of Music one, with lots of people dressing up for the event.

Jocelyn said...

Very cool. My Dad has some cobblestones from State Street before it was paved. I love that kind of thing too.

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