Recalling Chicago’s Southtown Theatre

posted by CSWalczak on April 6, 2010 at 7:49 am

CHICAGO, IL — Even after over fifty years since it showed its last film, the Southtown evokes fond memories of its opulence from those who recall this former Englewood neighborhood landmark. The building housed a department store for for twenty-seven years after its closing as a theater with many theatrical details intact. This Rapp & Rapp gem was demolished in 1991. Here’s a reminiscence, with a picture, that recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

For 27 years, residents in the Englewood neighborhood experienced that luxury and watched features like “Gone With the Wind.” Today, more than a half century after the Southtown closed, they can only conjure up memories since a discount grocery store stands at 610 W. 63rd St.

The stucco-covered, Spanish-style movie house designed by the theatrical architecture firm Rapp & Rapp opened on Christmas Day 1931. It was run by Balaban & Katz, which owned several other theaters in the city, but the Southtown was one of its largest, with a capacity of 3,200, and arguably its most special.

Theaters in this post

Comments (2)

WWendell on September 19, 2011 at 6:08 am

This was the ONLY most elegant Theatre in the City of Chicago. There was not another one like it. I visited there many times in the 60’s & 70’s when it was Carr’s Department store. My father, Warren was the manager of the store. It was huge, and many of the luxury items were gone. The area where the baby sitting room was, was the toy section. The pond was gone, and the main staircase was boarded up because of the layout of the store and no one was allowed in the balconies, it was lay-a-way storage and stock. This was an amazing building, the statues were still in the alcoves in the auditorium and you could see the proscenuim behind the walls that were built for the shoe department. I was all over that building except the basement. I was told it had 2 basements, and the lowest was flooded and not in use, the other basement was infested with rats, although I never saw one in the building. I remember the projection room, and the tower, which was a tower, nothing inside of it except a ladder which you could climb to the top of the tower, and I did. It was an amazing view. It is a total loss to the City of Chicago and a shame it was not saved, in those days there were some roof leaks, but still in pretty good shape. I think of it often…..

WWendell on September 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

Also I just remembered. I saw a book my father had that was printed when the Southtown opened, there was a moving sidewalk planned for the parking lots. Of course, that never happened.

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