State-Lake Theater, home of ABC 7 Chicago, celebrates 100 years

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sunday, March 17 is the 100th anniversary of the State-Lake Theater.

The current home of ABC 7 Chicago had its grand opening on March 17, 1919. It was built as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit. The opening night headliner was Trixie Friganza, a popular singer, comic and women's rights advocate.

In 1939, experimental television came to the upper floors of the State-Lake building. That station eventually became Chicago's first commercial TV station WBKB, channel 4 in 1943. After a merger with ABC-affiliated WENR, the new WBKB-TV moved to channel 7 and eventually changed call letters to WLS-TV in 1968.

By the early 1940s, stage shows disappeared from the State-Lake Theater and it just served as a movie palace until it closed on June 28, 1984. The theater space was then converted into TV studios for ABC7 programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, At The Movies, 190 North and more.

In 2006, ABC7 completed the State Street Studio for local newscasts. A few years later, in 2011, a new set was built behind the news studio for live, local talk show Windy City Live.

That's 100 years of history from the stars of Vaudeville to Cheryl Burton and Alan Krashesky at the corner of State & Lake in Chicago!
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