Century Centre Cinema

2828 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Showing 26 - 43 of 43 comments

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 18, 2009 at 5:04 pm

The opening made in the exterior brick for the stage door still exists. It now opens onto the Century Mall’s sizable loading dock.
The renovation architect gets a point for creative reuse.

DavidZornig on April 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Yep, the yellow one in front of the orange Dodge is the Pinto.
Alas, it was alledgedly the metal bolts on the gas tank straps that punctured the tanks upon rear end collisions. The subsequent recall replaced them with plastic bolts. Which doesn’t exactly sound safer, but apparently was.

P.S. Can you post the pic of the Norshore from American Classic Images to the Norshore page? Feed the addiction. Thanks.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 16, 2009 at 4:04 pm

That’s a Pinto? Don’t get too close to your computer screen.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Nice pic. The elaborate parking neon I mentioned in an earlier post, would have been just North of the marquee & entrance. Possibly not even hung on the building yet at this time. Since it look like the “mall” conversion was in it’s beginning stages.
Nice Dodge Demon & rag top Ford though.
Oh, and the Pinto, well it would have been only a few years old a model in `73.

DavidZornig on September 7, 2008 at 9:50 am

Thanks to BWChicago for reminding me of the Century Theatre. In my quest to see if the old Phoenix night club on Broadway was ever once a theatre, I had totally forgotten the Century was in the block behind it on Clark Street.

I remember when the Century Theatre was first converted to an indoor shopping mall, they had a giant, cryptic vertical neon sign for the parking entrance, done in the style of Rube Goldberg.

An animated series of downward events like the mousetrap game, that pointed down to the parking entrance. The lowest neon on the sign I believe was a car with an arrow.
This unique signage was detailed in pictures in the Tribune or Sun-Times at the time. So it might be worth looking through the 1973 microfiche editions sometime.
I don’t know when that signage was removed in favor of whatever is there now. It’s possible the signage was too avant garde & confusing for average drivers to make the connection that it was a garage.

brianbobcat on May 9, 2008 at 11:54 pm

I just went to see America The Beautiful here yesterday, and I liked it. Are the theaters small? Yes. Are the theaters personal? Yes. The filmmaker of this particular documentary was there greeting everyone after the show, and you simply wouldn’t find that at the megaplexes of today. Also, instead of blah pop and popcorn, I bought a pack of Thin-Mint like cookies that seemed to be imported, but hey, they were good and only 6 bucks. That’s another prime example of what you wouldn’t see at something like the Barrington 31. Lastly, is it painful to see the interiors completely removed leaving only the facade, yes, but ask yourself would you rather see the original facade or some new blah mall front? The people who own most of these buildings are businessmen, so at this point I’ll take what I can get, especially with SPearce’s comment about bulldozers in Chicago, so true that is (Meigs Field anyone?).


Melodance on March 7, 2008 at 11:34 am

My mother’s cousin told us a cute story of when she was out with her “to be” husband. They were walking out of the theatre after the show and he noticed some ice on the sidewalk and told her not to walk “over there”—being a bit stubborn, she jokingly said, “you can’t tell me what to do” and then immediately slipped and fell in front of the theatre.

She just lost him a little over a year ago to old age, but loves telling us this story.

I went there just prior to closing in the early 70s with my ex. It reminded me of the Chicago downtown. It was the first and only time I had been in this theatre.

RobinW on February 24, 2008 at 5:35 am

I went here with my husband to see “The Orphanage”. The theatre we were sitting in was tiny—indeed it seemed like nothing more than a screening room. Plus I cannot imagine anyone wanting to sit in the first few rows (no one was when we were there).

rec1001 on February 18, 2008 at 8:44 am

I don’t recall the storefront at all. I lived in the neighborhood throughout the sixties until 1974, and saw many movies there. One that stands out is “Goldfinger”, my favorite Bond movie. It was a thriving movie theater throughout the sixties, as I recall. It was a great movie palace, and I was saddened when it closed and later became a vertical mall. I haven’t been back in years, at least not since the Landmark theaters opened on the upper floors.

SPearce on January 19, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Other than the Vogue Theater at Broadway and Grace St., the Century from 1956 til it became a store front, is the one other theater in Chicago I attended with some regularity that, as to memorializing, I think I can add at least a feeling, or sentiment. In fact, after first discovering it in the late ‘50s, I would go out of my way to take the bus south to this theater if I had a choice (if a feature was playing there and at one of the other three big theaters further north) because I felt I wanted to support by my patronage its beauty outside, and, especially, inside, as well as its status in a neighborhood in decline. The theater seemed vulnerable then, and indeed, it was so. There was a suggestion, especially if one understood Chicago then, that a bulldozer could be brought in at any time to take it down, while one’s head was turned, and while no one looked or cared enough about it to stop it. People didn’t talk to each other much about the beauty of these theaters; they were still in a mode of supposedly taking them for granted, at least in public.

(This period predated the debacle of the demolition of the Garrick Theater in the Loop, which I also remember.) The lack of respect, let alone aesthetic intellect, driving that decision marshalled the preservation forces against the scariness of the loss of those palaces and the soul memory they expressed.

The Century was a big theater and not that easy to fill, but I recall it had pretty good houses on some occasions, including Saturdays in the late ‘50s. So, if it was a choice between the Century and say the Uptown or Granada, which were in solid, vibrant neighborhoods then, I felt that I should, and wanted to, attend the Century for those reasons. It was an anomaly to me then that such a beautiful theater could exist in such a nondescript neighborhood clearly becoming blighted. I clearly didn’t have enough information to understand the progression.

I never knew then that it was an Orpheum Vaudeville house either, which now explains pretty much its time period, purpose, and everything about it to me. I knew I was in something of value; I didn’t know why! As an Orpheum house, it makes sense as a showcase I guess even in a select neighborhood. With the other neighborhoods to the north, and just west of the Lake Shore, stretching north along the strip, it must have been fabulous to attend shows in these palaces in the 1920s-40s.

In my teen years, I trained myself to remember (for no reason, other than that I thought it might be necessary one day to remember some of the names of these movie palaces on the north side of Chicago – it was a constant disturbing sense of a threat to what they stood for, no less than the structures) the names of the Uptown, Granada and Century. I used to repeat them, “Uptown, Granada and Century,” so I would never forget them. Most people link the Riviera with the other two, I have read, and they are closer together. I remember the name of the Riviera, and lived near it, but I just can’t recall the theater, or may have some of it blended into either the Uptown or the Granada.

I wanted always to include the beautiful Century in my memory as it seemed the most vulnerable by location then. Glad to learn it hasn’t been destroyed at least as to the facade. From the photos, the neighborhood appears vibrant once again also. (There was a small Italian/Greek restaurant on the next street east (up from the street light and pedestrians in one of the night photos) that served fabulous Chicken Vesuvio – stayed in business a long time.

My recollection of the Century is that the interior furnishings did not have as heavy a feel, or did not seem so, as those in the Granada or the Uptown. My memory, though it is vague as to the details, suggests a more open, expansive feeling especially throughout the foyers which seemed to have columns and were wide holding areas. There is a hint of that in the facade as well. I am not quite sure if the details were Egyptian, Oriental or something else now. One walked to the interior doors to the house through a series of broad, columned carpeted areas. These areas were meant to hold a lot of patrons, including between shows. Just outside the first set of doors, I don’t know why, but I seem to remember there being something there about a “tiger;” either it was contained in a wall trapping, or a portrait or sculpture, or it was carved into something. I believe I spent more time studying the interior design of this theater than, say, the Granada. If there was a tiger motif there, that would cause me to suspect the interior design was more “Indian.” Again, it might be in another north side theater, and I may not have it exactly correct, but that is what I remember now.

My recollection is that light colors were used. It seems to me there was light marble wherever the designer chose to have it as well, but I might be incorrect about that. It was definitely pre-art deco or art nouveau, hearkening more to the silent movie era type of set furnishings, but always a light mood and expansive in feeling.

I don’t recall the interior of the theater, though I was there many times, except that it seemed to be large and arked broadly.

In the photos, I look at the facade, and I look at the modern beautiful new interior of the ‘plex, and, for whatever reason, it is the facade that does it for me, plus the photos of the vital street scene in the neighborhood at night.

Would that it could have been saved completely; I just have to say that! But it was a storefront in the ‘60s then closed as a theater. I even think men’s suits were sold in the foyer; or maybe it was just clothing in general.

Is there a place in Chicago, where the old movie palace interior adornments are sent, or an auction house through which they were sold? Does anyone know what happened to the interior design pieces of the Century? Or was it all carted away as junk?

Broan on September 30, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Photos of this theater are HERE

barryr on September 13, 2006 at 6:56 pm

Came here as a college student (probably 1979-ish) to see a double bill of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Singin' in the Rain.” Great to see such classics on the big screen! The place was packed. Glanced back a couple of rows during intermission and saw Roger Ebert awaiting the next showing of “Singin' in the Rain.” I think I read somewhere that it’s his all time favorite film.

Broan on June 17, 2006 at 9:43 am

Here is a profile from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s HAARGIS system. It includes a small picture.

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on October 7, 2003 at 1:36 pm

A great place to see a movie. All stadium seating. You reach the theaters by escalator or elevators. It is the home of the Chicago Film Festival. It plays independent and art movies.

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on December 2, 2001 at 11:06 am

A great place to see a movie. Stadium seating and run by people who know about movies. They show the best of foreign films as well as the latest American films.

jenniferouimet on September 24, 2001 at 11:30 am

Hello. I’ve been to your theater several times and enjoy the popcorn spices that you have available.

We are ordering client gifts, and I wanted to do a movie theme gift, and was wondering who you purchase the spices from, or the brand of spices that they are. Any information you have would be wonderful.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Jennifer Ouimet