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Source: Steve Bielawski
The Hoover Theater was owned and operated by Simon Leja. Simon, often known as "Sam", was an immigrant from Poland. He had operated a bar/restaurant until prohibition. During prohibition, he kept the restaurant going, but he kept his eye out for another business to get into. Simons friend, Stanley Oleszkowicz, owned the Chopin Theater, and Simon decided to join him in the movie business. Simon opened the Hoover Theater in 1929, while Herbert Hoover was president of the United States. About the time that Simon opened the Hoover, Stanley Oleszkowicz started building a new, bigger theatre down the street. (That would be the Stanley Theater.)
The Hoover held only 404 seats, which was rather small for those days. (By comparison, at some multiplexes, 404 seats would be about the size of the next-to-largest "auditorium".) Shortly after the Hoover opened, the depression hit. Times were hard, and the Hoover had trouble making much money. According to Henry Leja (Simons son, born in 1918 and still quite alert as of this writing), if the theatre ever made money, the distriubtor simply raised the studios percentage of the box office. In 1943, with Henry and his brothers off to war, Simon decided to close the Hoover and return to the restaurant/bar business. He rented space from Stanley Oleszkowicz in the block of the Chopin Theater (on Michigan Avenue) and later bought the property outright. His daughter, Claire, ran the establishment, later known as Claires OK Restaurant, until she retired in 1993.
As for the Hoover, after Simon got out of the movie business, it was owned by the Lowry Dance Ensemble for many years and was often a hall for rent. (They used only the lobby of the theatre building.) Today, I am told, it is an auto parts store. When last I was in htat neighbourhood, I could still clearly read the painted brick announcing, "Hoover Theater". The sign hasnt been touched up in decades, but still, the ghost of the old paint is quite definitely there.