Portage Theater

4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Showing 126 - 150 of 195 comments

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 26, 2006 at 7:20 am

Brian: two questions…

1) Have you seen the inside of the theatre? What condition is it in? I have heard that they removed the dividing wall between cinema I & II. But the last time I saw the theatre in ‘89 it was painted black and covered with typical M&R drapes. Have they done any work to make the auditorium look better?

2) Is this the same silent film festival that was held at the Gateway in the mid-90’s?

Broan
Broan on April 26, 2006 at 6:46 am

The Portage is set to reopen Friday, May 19 with Silent Film Chicago’s Spring Silent Film Festival. Tickets are now on sale. http://www.silentfilmchicago.com/

dakotaben
dakotaben on March 31, 2006 at 12:28 am

I hope that they reopen it, and soon. I am a native of Jefferson Park (next to Portage Park) and when I was by there last week I saw that the front doors (glass) were all uncovered and I could see inside all the way back to the concesssion stand. The inside looked very clean and clearly someone was getting it ready for something. I can say that the concession stand was very small. I vagely remember that theatre when I was a kid back in the 80’s. I saw some kind of cartoon there or something like that. I would love to hear when the theatre will open up again. I am currently out of Chicago, out of state acutally running a 15 screen theatre. When I come back to Chicago again next month to visit all, I would love to see the inside of that place.

That and the Patio.

Ben

rroberts
rroberts on March 30, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Is the Portage going to open soon?

Broan
Broan on March 30, 2006 at 3:34 am

In contrast to the bustling six corners of the 1950s, as seen in this previously-posted picture, It was a much different place in the 1920s when the theater rose. Here are four pictures from the Chicago Daily News, taken in 1922. 1 2 3 4 Notice that in photos 1, 2, and 3, the Portage Park Theatre’s smokestack is visible. The facade would probably be partly visible if the photos were higher resolution. Also notice that the corner store shown in these pictures remains there; here is how it looks now, for reference.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 20, 2006 at 4:00 am

Brian: it appears you are correct. My uncle invited me to breakfast, coincidentally, this past weekend. I asked him about the Portage. He doesn’t think it was a Rapp & Rapp. He says it doesn’t appear on any of the records or job lists that he has. I don’t know where I got the idea that it was designed by them, or why that notion hasn’t been contradicted in all these years I have held it.

Broan
Broan on March 5, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Oh, I didn’t know that- how interesting!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 5, 2006 at 3:14 pm

You may recall that I am related to the Rapps. This information comes from my uncle, the family historian. I’ll double-check with him the next time we speak. Admittedly, it’s been a long time since we discussed the subject. I also recall seeing something in THSA documents when I did volunteer work for them years back (late 80’s). So you could always get in touch with them to verify. Those guys always know what they are talking about.

Broan
Broan on March 5, 2006 at 3:06 pm

Really? Where did you find that out? I looked all over looking for information and couldn’t find anything until Dennis told me that. Newhouse was often the architect for the Ascher Brothers; I don’t know of any Ascher theaters from the Rapps. Very interesting!

Some other bits of the Portage’s history that have gone unmentioned here so far: During construction, the Portage was at the center of a Union extortion case involving the theater’s door installations; In 1929 the Aschers sold this and several other theaters of theirs to Fox; in 1932 it was turned over to the GCS circuit and recieved some remodeling, redecorating, and new seats; about 1940, it recieved its streamline moderne lobby, in accordance with the art deco character of Six Corners following the Klee and Sears buildings, and also had a very pretty art deco marquee and vitrolite/cararra glass entrance; in 1941 it became part of the Balaban and Katz chain, then abc/great states; by 1975 it was part of the Brotman & Sherman chain, then it was VERY briefly a live house called the Portage Palace, hosting country acts such as Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn… and those were the only two before booker Bob Briggs was tossed out and future shows cancelled. They tried again in 1977 with a Eddie Money/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show, but that was all. M&R took over in 1980 and briefly experimented with a laser light show before twinning the Portage.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 5, 2006 at 2:29 pm

Brian: the Portage was designed by Rapp & Rapp.

Broan
Broan on March 5, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Also, Dennis says that the Architect was Henry Newhouse.

Broan
Broan on March 5, 2006 at 2:04 pm

From this week’s Chicago Reader ‘The Business’ column: “The Silent Film Society was booted from the Gateway Theatre a year ago, but expects to inaugurate a new home base this spring at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee. Film Society head and former Gateway manager Dennis Wolkowicz is one of three members of a management team that has taken a long-term lease (with option to buy) on the 85-year-old Portage. Wolkowicz says they spiffed it up, returned it to a single auditorium format, and are just awaiting (what else?) the PPA license. It’ll have 1,350 seats and will offer live music and talkiesâ€"classic, revival, independent, documentary, and foreign moviesâ€"along with the silent films.”

It looks wonderful and I eagerly await its opening.

mp775
mp775 on March 1, 2006 at 12:01 pm

SFSC’s silent film festival was postponed, due to delays in the permitting process. Guess we’ll have to keep waiting…

mp775
mp775 on January 30, 2006 at 8:43 am

There’s still no word on the Silent Film Society of Chicago’s own site, but the West End Jazz Band lists the Portage’s opening night this Friday, 2/3/06, on their events page.

rroberts
rroberts on December 22, 2005 at 12:20 am

Brian: The reporter for the Crane’s piece ambushed us all. The title of the article tips us off as to his intent: “Theatre Debacles…” It’s not a bad photo of me though… Any word on the reopening of the Portage? I wonder if Dennis is OK with the city anc the PPA?

Broan
Broan on December 17, 2005 at 8:05 pm

The only thing that article is good for is the pictures.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 17, 2005 at 6:29 pm

Here is a great link to an article about the pitfalls of theatre restoration. It is from CRAINS CHICAGO BUSINESS.

View link

rroberts
rroberts on December 1, 2005 at 1:23 pm

FYI: Dennis W. was the wonderful manager at the Gateway Theatre.

Broan
Broan on November 30, 2005 at 6:30 am

Very intriguing news! Wolkowicz is the man behind Silent Film Chicago, and one of the best theater organists in the area, under a psuedonym. http://lakeclaremontpress.blogspot.com/ includes another blurb I just found on this project. I’m amazed this has kept so quiet! He must be planning to reinstall an organ, I wonder which? My bet would be on the Gateway or Patio, I suppose. I don’t know if he reads this page, but if he does, i’d certainly like to volunteer any help I can give. My contact information is in my profile.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 29, 2005 at 4:36 pm

From a friend who lives in Portage Park. Dennis worked at the Copernicus Gateway years ago. Don’t know what he’s up to now:

My neighborhood paper’s got a front-page article
>saying major renovation work is currently under way at
>the Portage Theater, and that they hope to be open by
>the end of the year or not long thereafter. The
>article includes a photo of the auditorium, but I
>can’t tell if it’s current or an old stock photo.
>
>The guy they mention as the manager is Dennis
>Wolkowicz. Know anything about him?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth on November 28, 2005 at 3:50 am

Guess what????? According to the PPNA this week and the Nadig newspaper, the Theater WILL be open as of the First of the year!!!!!! YAY!!!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 12, 2005 at 12:14 am

I don’t believe that Patrick Crowley is necessarily supporting your cause Paul.

Anyone who calls this man has been given fair warning.

rroberts
rroberts on November 6, 2005 at 4:17 am

Mr. Crowley is the voice of reason. Thank you. We have always been available to discuss theatres with those who do not hide in anonimity or have a personal ax to grind. Our office is in Wheaton and we will share our projects there to those who make an appointment. Thanks.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on November 2, 2005 at 2:50 pm

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Patrick Crowley
Co-founder, Cinema Treasures