72 East 11th Street was built in 1929 by Holabird & Root and is a a six- story, limestone-clad Art Deco building originally owned by the Chicago Women’s Club to house the organization’s meeting rooms, offices and theater. Rich in history, it was the site for rallies in support of women’s voting rights, efforts on behalf of compulsory education laws and fund raising for scholarships at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a women’s dormitory at the University of Chicago. The building then was occupied by the Women's Army Corps and served as a USO Center. From 1946 until 1974, the building was home to Spertus College before Spertus moved to Michigan Avenue. The 72 East 11th Street building was acquired by Columbia in 1980 from the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago for use as the school’s Theatre Center, housing a 400-seat theater, classrooms, and space for film and photography studios.

The Emma and Oscar Getz Theatre  was named by Emma Getz, the primary donor when the theatre was renovated in the 1980s, who requested it be named in honor of her and her deceased husband jointly.  In 2017, Columbia College Chicago began a two-year renovation project of the theatre, led by the architectural firm, Gensler,  to transform it into a courtyard theatre, one of only a few of its kind in Chicago. This model, similar to the Shakespearean stage, will address the various student and teaching needs of the space and will also contain sidestage and backstage areas. The renovated first floor is outfitted with two production shops and a backstage crossover; the second floor holds dressing rooms, makeup room, and raised catwalk; and the lobby has been updated in order to be dressed up for performance nights and special events.   

Quick Facts

  • Name: Getz Theater
  • Address: 62-72 East 11th Street
  • Size: 104 feet x 120 feet, 6 stories
  • Architect:
    • Holabird & Root, 1927-1930
  • Original Name: Chicago Women’s Club
  • Other Names:
    • Jewish Education Building
    • 11th Street Theater
  • Acquired by College: 1981
  • Original Building Type: Club
  • Style: Art Deco

Information taken from the 2005 Campus Preservation Plan and college news releases about the 2017 renovation project.