Pilsen's Thalia Hall was built 120 years ago by the neighborhood's Eastern European immigrants. Modeled after Prague's opera house, original proprietor John Dusek developed the space as a massive community-gathering place for Czech immigrants. As populations moved in and out of the neighborhood, Thalia fell into disrepair.
Today, the space is coming full-circle. This year's Open House Chicago was an opportunity to invite the public to experience the theatre's renewal in action. A delightful dance with ruin porn and hopeful possibility, visiting Thalia Hall's upstairs theatre space revealed crackling, peeling paint on the theatre's remarkable Eastern European facades and crumbling intaglio plaster. Massive vaulted ceilings play host to high balconies accessible by rickety staircases.
And yet, the possibilities and potential seem endless. Currently, Thalia Hall's downstairs space and basement have been renovated and repurposed by heroic local restaurateurs Will Duncan and Ben Finkleman (click the link for pictures!), who run Dusek's Board & Beer on the ground floor and Punch House, a cocktail-oriented gathering spot, below. The two are leading the charge in restoring the theatre, which they hope to transform into a concert and festival venue. Most importantly, it will return as a community meeting space— aesthetically and holistically restoring Thalia to its origins.
·Thalia Hall [OHC]
·Open House Chicago 2013 [Curbed Chicago]
·Thalia Hall Coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Look Inside Dusek's Board & Beer and Punch House [Eater Chicago]