Uptown Theatre

4816 North Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 401 - 425 of 445 comments

rroberts on July 16, 2004 at 12:39 pm

I live in the neighborhood and went to a recent court case for the Uptown. Finally, the City of Chicago has ordered a “Critical Examinination of the Uptown Theatre.” (In Building Court) It seems that the group “holding title” is forced to do some real work on the theatre’s exterior. I heard that an engineering firm had been retained and must start work soon. This may be the first time any group in the last 20 years has put any real money into the building constructively. What happened to all those groups trying to save the theatre? Looks like no postings since February on this site. Have we missed something?

uptownadviser on February 6, 2004 at 10:26 pm

Yes. Let’s not clutter up Cinema Treasures any more.

Uptown Adviser is not a message board. It is a newsletter/mailing list. It will advise of any opportunities, events, etc. You may also contact volutneers directly via email, , or by voicemail, (773) 250-7665.

Until such time there is funding for stabilization, or a viable prospect of some kind, there is really no point in getting people excited. Depending on how the building is reused and to what degree it is renovated, the project is easily a $40 million venture.

Many Friends of the Uptown will be participating in the Feb. 15 show at the CENTRAL PARK, Chicago. See Events for details.

JMassanova on February 6, 2004 at 9:03 pm

Hi, thanks for the link to the yahoo site. I read the posting, but would like to know is there a time/place where people meet in person? I’m not a huge fan of message boards.

uptownadviser on February 4, 2004 at 3:23 pm


The Uptown has been closed since 1981. Several special events, tours and movie locations have happened there by special permission in the past two decades. However, it remains closed to the public, for sale, and at issue in building and foreclosure courts.

If you want to see the interior, I would suggest getting the special Uptown edition of Marquee magazine from Theatre Historical Society of America (THSA), http://www.historictheatres.org It contains a lot of stunning vintage 1925 views, and explains the building’s importance.

If you were to visit Chicago in April, I would suggest the following tour, which is hosted by the Chicago Office of Toursim/City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. You can’t beat it.

  • April 17. Visit three of the city’s beloved theatrical gems: the Auditorium Theatre, the Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre and the Aragon Ballroom. Historian Joseph DuciBella takes you behind the scenes and provides a backstage look at the lives of the people who designed these magnificent buildings and the productions that once played there.


In lieu of an April visit and tour, I would suggest getting the THSA Chicago Conclave edition of Marquee magazine and doing your own tour, based on the theatres and addresses listed therein. The magazine covers more than 20 of Chicago’s best remaining theatres.

MarkW on February 4, 2004 at 3:09 pm

I will be in Chicago for a week in early March. Is it safe to assume if I go to the Uptown, There is no way to see inside?

uptownadviser on February 3, 2004 at 5:35 pm


Great! Please sign up via


and read the most recent message, including “What you can do.”

JMassanova on February 3, 2004 at 4:21 pm

I’ve lived in Uptown for 3 years now and have been very interested in the preservation of the Uptown for all of that time. I have no way to know how I may help you in this but am hoping that there is something I can do. I will check back here to see if there are any posts, and am looking forward to talking with you.

sdoerr on December 11, 2003 at 11:17 pm

What a nice theatre, definitely a favorite.

PaulWarshauer on October 24, 2003 at 10:43 am

The scaffolding around the Uptown Theatre came down today. The scaffolding folks have not been paid and a judge ordered it removed. The case lingers in building court with the City of Chicago searching for the legal owner. The owner is bankrupt. (FYI: He is not bankrupt because of this project.) The UTCA mentioned earlier in this posting (Morrison, Zipperer, Carlson, et al.) faces civil and criminal charges and has squandered over one million dollars without putting a dime into the building! What a mess. Folks: This could mark an exciting new chapter in the history of this magnificent movie palace. The not for profit groups that have tried to buy it have failed. Perhaps a new approach to operating a theatre this size is necessary. We believe that we have the answer. Call Paul with the Uptown Performance Centre, LLC at (773) 202-1010 for further information and for a unique investment opportunity.

scottg on October 19, 2003 at 4:53 am

I really hope that something is being done to save this place, it could be a true Gem, a great theater of the Nation.

BrendanMcKenna on April 9, 2003 at 4:37 pm

Here is the original column that provides the background to my post on April 4, 2003, from David Roeder, columnist for the Chicago Sun Times:

“UPTOWN CALAMITY: The nonprofit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is making progress toward its goal of raising $5 million to buy and refurbish the glorious Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway. So said Carol Jean Carlson, the group’s chief executive. The group has said that for two years now, even as it has burned through almost $1 million of benefactor Albert Goodman’s money, while the 4,381-seat theater remains vacant. Carlson said up to $100,000 was squandered by a former chief executive now on the lam.

Then there was the former chief executive’s replacement, who quit and claimed the group owed him $10,000. And now there’s a dispute with a former chairman of the organization, developer Paul Warshauer, who was dumped from the board. Carlson said a lawsuit will be filed against Warshauer for misdeeds she wouldn’t specify. “He was removed for cause,‘’ was all she would say.

Warshauer could not be reached. Carlson said the group has spent $250,000 as a down payment for the theater and $400,000 on consultants for architectural and environmental studies. She cites that as progress. But with the group showing scant ability to acquire and manage the property, it sounds more like the Uptown Theatre has become a cash cow for insiders. “Money before performance” seems to be the motto. The city has acted aggressively to force sales of blighted property. It’s time it saves the Uptown."

BrendanMcKenna on April 9, 2003 at 4:34 pm

From the April 9, 2003 column of David Roeder in the Chicago Sun Times:

“Also, developer Paul Warshauer, past chairman of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, said he forced the group to oust him because of his complaints over its practices. The nonprofit organization wants to buy and renovate the Uptown Theatre at 4816 N. Broadway. It has burned through nearly $1 million with little to show for it.

Warshauer said that despite what the group’s leader said in this space last week, it has squandered $250,000 by not closing a contract to purchase the theater. There also are questions about $30,000 the group collected when it raffled a Jaguar, a prize it does not own and has yet to bestow."

BrendanMcKenna on April 4, 2003 at 6:29 pm

There was a recent article that summarized the financial mismanagement at the organization set up to renovate the Uptown. This includes a director running off after charging up a storm using organization credit cards; the resignation of the next director after only 6 months (Zipperer); a top heavy staff of 8 (what do they do all day); the excessive use of a $1 million donation; the failure of one after the other of fundraisers (including to auction off a used Jaguar that was the “property” of the missing director)-bottom line, it seems like if the Uptown is to be saved, it needs a radically new direction. The latest plan seems slightly off (to purchase rental properties adjacent to the theatre to gain the rental income). Uptown is still a slightly seedy neighborhood, so I am not sure how much income will come from renting (currently, it appears the spaces are empty to begin with). At this point, I don’t see how progress can be made to save the theatre. Shame!

JamesAPierce on March 19, 2003 at 1:59 am

A response to: jezmundv

True, the building has been closed since 1981 and is in need of renovation. But what, if I may inquire with all due respect, do you know of its engineering? It is engineered for all time and maintenance continues …

To my knowledge the building is kept secure and viable by its present private owners. Heat is provided on winter’s coldest days when needed. All is not lost!

It remains protected by local and national landmark laws. It has a large constituency on many levels. True, no recent prospect has consummated a purchase or renovation. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that prospective investors are not interested and working. State and local leaders have expressed interest and support again and again.

I believe it will be renovated to serve the public through entertainment of some kind. Stay tuned.

Please view uptowntheatre.com and subscribe to Uptown Adviser via http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uptownadviser/ for up to date info.

jezmundv on March 12, 2003 at 2:14 am

The building is unfortunately a mess. Water damage and building engineering problems have caused a steady deterioration of the property in a neighborhood that is steadily starting to come around. The City of Chicago has it’s sites set on the Rivera theater across the street to spend it’s money on to renovate. None of the groups that have made attempts to buy the theater have gotten their act together.

There is a scaffold around the theater now. Before long you will see and Omega or National Wrecking sign on it and they will quickly finish the job that was started when the building was first abandoned without heat.

MichaelBeyer on February 19, 2003 at 10:05 pm


CHICAGO (February 19, 2003)

The not-for-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA) announces ‘Bring Back the Brilliance,’ a gala benefit, Friday, March 21, at 7 pm at Northwestern School of Law, Thorne Auditorium, located at 375 E. Chicago Avenue. Tickets for the evening are $75 per person or $125 per couple. For reservations call 773-561-5700. Proceeds from the event, which will include a vintage fashion show, live swing music, light fare and cash bar, will support programming and operational expenses for the UTCA during the year.

The evening will commence with a reception in the lobby with hors d'oeuvres and live swing music provided by Speakeasy Entertainment. The main attraction will be an elaborately staged vintage fashion show assembled by producer, director, and award-winning designer William T. Buster. Showcasing spectacular American fashions from 1925 to 1963, the garments recall the glamorous styles of Hollywood’s Golden Age, paying tribute to the great history of the legendary Uptown Theatre. The collection consists of evening wear, daywear, outerwear, hats, furs, jewelry, lingerie, and bridal fashions. Following the fashion show there will be dancing in the lobby, with Speakeasy Entertainment playing a variety of classic big-band and disco favorites from the heyday of the Uptown Theatre.

Businesses or individuals that are interested in sponsorship opportunities for this high-visibility gala event should contact the UTCA at (773) 561-5700.

Often cited as a pivotal piece in the redevelopment of the Uptown neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre is the country’s largest freestanding theatre building in terms of square footage. Built in 1925 and designed by famed Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp, the Uptown Theatre was the crown jewels of the national Balaban & Katz movie palace empire. Shuttered since 1981, the Uptown has been listed as one of ‘America’s Most Endangered Historic Places’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places, the Illinois Historic Structures Survey, and is protected as a Chicago Landmark.

The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is a 501©(3) not-for-profit corporation created in March 2001 to purchase and restore the Uptown Theatre to its former prominence. Comprised of professionals with backgrounds in business administration, finance, theatre, and community development, the group’s efforts have given life to the most credible effort yet to save the neglected theatre. Upon restoration, the theatre’s physical space will be used to present a broad spectrum of programming designed to entertain and educate the diverse people who live in the Uptown neighborhood and the surrounding region, and will become a world-class center for the arts.

For more information on the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, visit www.uptowntheatrechicago.org.


MichaelBeyer on December 3, 2002 at 4:42 pm

NAME-A-SEAT in the Uptown Theatre!

For the person who has everything, here’s a unique holiday gift idea! Help celebrate the diversity and vitality of the arts by endowing a seat in the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts.

For as little as $500, you can dedicate a new seat in the renovated theatre to yourself, a loved one, favorite artist, or arts champion. Seat endowments are available in all theatre sections:

Orchestra: $2,500
Mezzanine: $500

With your tax-deductible donation, a plaque measuring 2.5" high by 4.5" wide, with a two-line 48-character dedication, will be affixed to the arm of the seat. Additional space for a 25-character line acknowledging your donation will also be included on the plaque.

To reserve your seat now, click here: View link
Or, call 773-561-5700.

JamesAPierce on November 10, 2002 at 11:53 pm

A reply to: graememcbain

Thank you for wishing the Uptown well. Luckily it has both city landmark and national register protections … and its owners, staff and volunteers keep additional damage to a minimum. Its future remains uncertain but not imminently threatened by anything different than it has endured since closing in 1981.

To stay in touch, please subscribe to Uptown Adviser via the web site http://www.uptowntheatre.com

graememcbain on November 6, 2002 at 1:59 pm

I live in Melbourne,Australia and I sincerely hope the Uptown Theatre can be saved.I have not yet visited Chicago,the closest being New York in 1999.It is important for future generations to be able to see these great theatres.Not one of today’s modern complexes comes any where near the beauty of the great picture palaces and all efforts to save as many as possible should be eagerly pursued at all costs.

I was very disappointed to see one such theatre,the Ambassador in St.Louis disappear five years ago.

MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:42 pm


Often cited as a pivotal piece in the redevelopment of the Uptown neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre is the country’s largest freestanding theatre building in terms of square footage. Built in 1925 and designed by famed Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp, the Uptown Theatre was one of the crown jewels of the national Balaban & Katz movie palace empire. Shuttered since 1981, the Uptown has been listed as one of “America’s Most Endangered Historic Places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places and the Illinois Historic Structures Survey and is protected as a Chicago Landmark.

The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is a 501©(3) not-for-profit corporation created in March 2001 to purchase and restore the Uptown Theatre to its former prominence. Comprised of professionals with backgrounds in business administration, finance, theatre, and community development, the group’s efforts have given life to the most credible effort yet to save the shuttered theatre. On July 27, 2001, Albert I. Goodman, on behalf of the Edith-Marie Appleton Foundation, kicked off the drive to renovate the historic Uptown Theatre with a generous gift of $1 million and a pledge of continuing support.

For more information on the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts or to make a donation, call (773) 561-5700 or visit www.uptowntheatrechicago.com.

-30- *******

MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:40 pm


Group refuses to take final bow on Uptown Theatre Restoration

CHICAGO (October 3, 2002) – An agreement signed Tuesday between the not-for-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts and Cercore Properties Corp. extends through October 21 the contract allowing the group to purchase and restore the historic Uptown Theatre. The purchase option was to have expired tomorrow.

“We still believe that we’ll be able to save this magnificent gem,” said Mark Zipperer, chief executive officer of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, noting that although the group remains $1.5 million short of the total funds needed to purchase and winterize the landmark theatre, support for the campaign is escalating. “The same economic conditions that have created a tough fundraising environment make restoration of the Uptown a fiscally sound project, given the immediate jobs the project would create and its long-term economic impact on the blighted Uptown neighborhood.”

Even within the last week, momentum towards the purchase continues to build as corporations and individual donors make monetary commitments on a daily basis. And high-profile supporters, including Chicago Alderperson Mary Ann Smith (48th Ward), Illinois Rep. Rod Blagojevich (5th District), and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon have endorsed the organization’s plan for revitalizing the aging movie palace.

“If we’re going to fulfill our obligation of restoring this historic landmark for future generations to enjoy, there’s no better time than now,” said Zipperer, who, in a relatively unprecedented move, has guaranteed that all contributions will be held in a special, secured account and returned to donors in what he calls “the unlikely scenario” that the group’s bid to purchase the theatre fails.

“Restoration costs have doubled within the last 10 years, and experts have estimated that another five to seven years of neglect will render the Uptown Theatre irreparable,” Zipperer clarified. “After a recent incident when a chunk of falling plaster prompted a city building inspector to cancel all future fundraising tours of the theatre, I’m left wondering if we even have that long.”

“This really is the Theatre’s eleventh hour, and I’d like to make one final plea to everyone, whether you’re the administrator of a major philanthropic trust, a corporate leader or a neighborhood resident with fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent watching quarter movies at the Uptown, to do what you can,” Zipperer said. “If 150,000 Chicagoans each donated $10, we could close on the building tomorrow.”

MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:34 pm

A letter from Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts:

******* Dear Uptown Theatre Supporters and Friends:

As you are likely aware, today marks the expiration of the agreement we entered into for the, to purchase of the historic Uptown Theatre. In the purchase agreement, our not-for-profit organization, the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA), agreed to pay the current owner of the Theatre $2.5 million dollars. We made a down payment of $250K and agreed to purchase the property in 120 days. Yesterday, on behalf of the UTCA, I signed an agreement with the owner of the theatre to extend our deadline to October 21. As the attached press release indicates, we still do not have the funds to complete the purchase. Our staff, board, volunteers, supporters, and community leaders remain hopeful that we can make this happen in the not-to distant future.

I ask you not to lose faith in our endeavor. We’ve accomplished much in a short period of time. 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith has endorsed our project. We have received tremendous media attention including in-depth coverage from CNN. Theatre experts, political officials, and business advisors alike have reviewed our business plan. We’ve received high praise for our vision and sound financial forecasting. Thus, the foundation for a successful future has been built.

We are committed to this cause and will continue on. In order to move forward, we need the financial support of individuals, corporations and others to complete the purchase. Our plans to secure funding for the restoration include special benefit concerts, our “name-a-seat” campaign, as well as benefiting from area tax financing as well as historic tax credits. Once we conclude the purchase of the Theatre, we will move forward with the restoration planning phase. We plan to kick-off the restoration in early 2003, which will result in more than 100 jobs for the restoration team, our operational staff, and surrounding supporting businesses.

If you can contribute monetarily, the time is NOW. If you work at a company in which you have the ability to influence your company leaders to make a donation or loan to us, please have those conversations NOW. If you know someone who has the financial ability to help us complete this purchase, please call on that person NOW. With your help, we can make this purchase a reality. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Best Regards,

Mark M. Zipperer Chief Executive Officer

MichaelBeyer on September 25, 2002 at 10:42 pm


Listen to the talk of the town on the radio circuit —– the Uptown Theatre purchase campaign. We are in an eleventh-hour “race against the clock” to take ownership of the theatre by October 4, and begin restoration of this historic jewel before it is too late to save.

WGN-AM 720 “The Spike O'Dell Show.” TOMORROW, Thursday, 9-26-02 at 6:50 am. Spike will interview Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts.

WUSN-FM 99.5, “Chicago Up Close” with LeeAnn Trotter. Sunday, 9-29-02 between 6-7 am. The show’s topic is the impact of theatre restorations. Guests include Mark Zipperer, and our architectural partners: Jeff Havel from d'Escoto, Inc., and Bill Latoza from Bauer Latoza Studio Ltd.

WNND-FM 100.3 FM, “Windy City Weekly” with Susan Wiencek. Sunday, 9-29-02 from 7:30 am – 8:00 am. Mark Zipperer, CEO, and Michael Beyer, Director of Marketing, will be interviewed.

WLUW-FM 88.7 Loyola University. Nick Tristano will interview Mark Zipperer on the all-new “The Full on Friday Show” on October 4 at 2:30 pm.

WBEZ-FM 91.5, Investigative report on the Uptown Theatre by Tony Sarabia to air on or about October 4. Get the FULL scoop from the Uptown perspective as Tony interviews the movers and shakers in the political and preservation scene pertinent to the Uptown Theatre restoration. ******