LVAC \noun: el-VAK\
For the better part of a century, 3212 N. Broadway has been a heavily traversed community hub—a civic and learning center—most notably as the new Jane Addams Hull House headquarters in the ’60s. Chicago Athletic Clubs bought and refurbished this landmark in 2008.
With roots going as far back as 1914, this four-story building served as a gymnasium, theater and civic center through the ’50s under the name “Butler House” or “Lake View Center.” The Women’s Civic League and the American Legion held regular meetings in the assembly halls while war veterans and servicemen occupied the private athletic club that also featured a large pool, bowling alleys and billiards.
The Lake View Center adopted a new name and community-serving purpose in 1963 when Chicago decentralized and dispersed the facilities at Jane Addams Hull House—the oldest settlement house in the country dating back to 1889. The newly dubbed “Jane Addams Center” acted as the Hull House’s new home base of operations offering the underserved immigrant community cooking, art, dance and theater classes as well as recreational facilities.
Interestingly, a reverence for groundbreaking theater (outside The Loop) is in the building’s DNA too. The community center’s emergent theater classes and productions were eventually organized by the Bailiwick Repertory in the 1980s, by Steppenwolf soon after and then About Face Theatre in the 2000’s. Now, attending a spin class is sweaty like storefront theater.