Help Out At The Former Central Park Theatre

posted by Ross Melnick on May 30, 2003 at 4:28 am

CHICAGO, IL — The following email was sent in by the Friends of the Uptown. The Central Park was Balaban & Katz' first movie palace and, according to Douglas Gomery’s “Shared Pleasures,” the first theater in America cooled by air conditioning for the sweltering summer months.

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED to assist in some house chores and heavy lifting, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at the former Central Park Theatre, on the West Side, in the North Lawndale neighborhood, at 3535 W. Roosevelt, east of Central Park Avenue. Look for the large sign that reads House of Prayer.

We will work until approximately 2 p.m. Please come and work for any amount of time that you can. Meet the group in the vestibule/lobby of the theatre/church building itself. RSVP by email to: .

Work clothes, gloves, a bottle of water and a snack are good things to bring along. Surplus cleaning supplies, brooms, mops, trash bags, light bulbs, etc. are always are appreciated.

We will meet and work with the Rev. Dr. Lincoln Scott and his staff. You may meet Mr. Butler or Mr. Roosevelt first if you choose to use the fenced parking lot adjacent to the building to the immediate west.

Home to The House of Prayer COGIC since the 1970s, this important Chicago venue will be featured on a special Chicago: Three Centuries of Theatres tour, July 8 through 13. A little work from Friends of the Uptown this Saturday will make for a better tour and will show our support for this very special landmark.

Theatre historians recall that the 1916 CENTRAL PARK is the fountainhead of movie palace design and the second successful venue of Balaban & Katz (following the CIRCLE). Its success led B&K to build later landmark venues and its design influence can be seen in other important theaters. After the RIVIERA came the TIVOLI, the CHICAGO, the UPTOWN, the ORIENTAL … from B&K and the same architects, C.W. and George L. Rapp!

Thank you for your time and attention. You will definitely enjoy this unique opportunity to experience the combination of historic theatre, appreciative owner-operator and vested constituency! Apologies for the impromptu notice. This was arranged to fit the venue’s schedule and needs.

The Friends' effort is in anticipation of the upcoming Theatre Historical Society of America conclave, “Three Centuries of Theatres,” to be held from July 8 -13, 2003 in Chicago.

For more information on the conclave, visit THSA’s website.

Have a great weekend everyone and see you on Monday!

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