Belpark Theatre

3231 N. Cicero Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Edward F. Mooney, projectionist

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The Belpark Theatre opened on March 12, 1927 as part of the Lubliner & Trinz circuit. It was located on Cicero Avenue near Belmont Avenue in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.

This 2,000-plus seat theater was designed by E.P. Steinberg and once contained a 3/17 Barton theater organ. In spring of 1930, the Belpark Theatre was taken over by the Balaban & Katz chain, which operated it for the remainder of its career as a movie house.

The Belpark Theatre closed as a movie theater in the mid-1950’s and after periods of use as a warehouse and later, a banquet facility, the building became a bingo hall, which was closed around 2014. It is slated to become a church.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Reread Broan’s comments above. ‘Nuff said.

Broan
Broan on July 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

If you are in the area, I encourage you to visit the Golden Tiara bingo hall. I think walking around inside will help you understand how it’s different from the Portage.

GFeret
GFeret on July 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

of course the BelPark’s different, with potential closeby parking too (Patio theatre doesn’t have that). a blown opportunity

Broan
Broan on July 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

A blown opportunity to spend several times as much for a few hundred more seats to fill, maybe (and remember, there are no seats in place). An opportunity to get foreclosed. Of course, is it even an opportunity if the owners of the Belpark had no interest in selling, and the operators of the Portage did not have funds to buy, but rent? Easy to play 20/20 hindsight, but I have actually been through the Belpark fairly recently. Don’t forget the Portage has Sears parking. It’s a good opportunity for the church, which should have better access to financing, and perhaps they’ll end up making the facility available for other events, assuming they’re able to make the deal happen.

GFeret
GFeret on July 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

sears parking lot 2-½ block east, not a convenient asset even if sears made it plainly known portage theatre parking was permitted

parking issue aside—it’s not that important to me personally—restoring the belpark yes was a blown theatrical opportunity

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

I am late to this discussion, and I haven’t read every comment. But here is my two cents: The Belpark has been positively serving the community as a bingo hall for many years. I really don’t know much about bingo. But it seems like people pay something to get in, play bingo and have a chance to win prize money, while at the same time socializing. That sounds like a good thing. I’d rather see this church take residence in a space that is currently vacant. In a city the size of Chicago there must be at least a few to choose from.

GFeret
GFeret on July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

i’m glad when a religious organization takes over a former theatre, and can live with bingo activity doing similarly, because it means the building’s lease on life has been extended instead of it falling into disuse & vacancy. we’ve had far too many heartbreaking examples of that

what i say above goes double for former theatres which could be characterized as old movie palaces. personally i favor these alternate useages specifically for the distinct possibility at least a percentage can and will revert to film exhibition once again. that’s a goal quite compatible with this cinematreasures site, and why i’d point out a missed opportunity like the BelPark

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

I wonder if the lobby chandelier is original to the theater, or if it was added by one of the post-warehouse tenants.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 4, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Drove by today and saw the red & white Public Notice on the door. Then saw a post on the Chicago Theatre Preservation Alliance Facebook page, that included the below link. The BelPark will be the new home of Chicago Tabernacle. The same folks who originally wanted the Portage Theatre. So good news all around, with both now being saved.

http://vimeo.com/76842540

GFeret
GFeret on October 3, 2014 at 9:05 am

the bel park yesterday had practically all traces of ‘golden tiara’ (bingo) removed, including the doorway canopy, and front doors boarded-up. definitely looks like re-construction going on inside (contractor sign was attached)

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