The Goodman is gone.

Don’t know if you’ve been by the corner of Monroe and Columbus Drive lately.
I hadn’t – until last night on my way to the Art Institute.

Where once stood the stately – very stately – Goodman Theater — is now a large hole in the ground. The Goodman is gone.

Forever. Never again to walk down those stairs and into that very dignified, intimate, column-free, wood-paneled “living room” (it felt like you were in a friend’s living room.)

It was there that I learned about theater as a child. Especially serious theater. The Shubert, and other Loop theaters were for more commercial runs. The Goodman was smart. Now those memories are


And aren’t we about to start a Mamet Festival soon? Many have Mamet memories, at the Goodman. Some of my strongest are August Wilson memories.

Who remembers what the quote said engraved over the front door? Something about art being fleeting, or, “Oh enlighten thee all who enter here.” What was it again?

Photo on the left shows the site looking west from Columbus Drive at Monroe. Above this will rise the new Modern Wing, of the Art Institute.

Photo on the right is looking north, at the Sullivan arch from the Stock Exchange, in front of it was a garden and a fountain. The arch is shrouded in black, at the loss of its neighbor, the old Goodman Theater? It too remembers being torn down.

Piano’s glass pavillion for the Modern Wing of the Art Institute should be nice, tho’ the backlash against it in arch. circles has started – “Not risky enough.” “A safe choice.” “Piano has already done too many museum additions in too many cities.” “What about local talent – this is Chicago!”

But I’d like to know why we tore down Howard van Doren Shaw’s Goodman Theater, which would have easy to save since it was mainly underground.

And what’s this I spy?

“Historic preservation is based on the premise that the past, present, and future have a continuity that is essential to the health of our society.”

Oh, that’s from the School of the Art Institute itself. Which offers a Master of Science in Historic Preservation. Couldn’t save the old Goodman.

The new Goodman, stands at 170 North Dearborn Street. (Complete with very tacky “Grand” staircase.) I know, I know, the offices are much better for the staff and the acoustics are better and there’s more flyspace. But I never saw a play at the fine old Goodman and said to myself, “Gosh, I wish they had more flyspace.” It was a classy place to listen to serious writing. Seems there’s no place for that anymore. And I always wondered, because the acoustics were bad, did that make you listen harder, and help you have the deep experiences so many of us had there?

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