New Rex Theater

3679 W. Grand Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60651

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GFeret on November 2, 2015 at 12:12 pm

the new NEW REX images were certainly an unexpectedly pleasant surprise for me to see. I have this exact area of Chicago ‘under my fingernails’ from my ‘50s – '70s youth, having gone to D.R. Cameron grade school right there a couple years. I could tell you every little thing about every little place nearby. Yet I was too late to attend this theatre, it had closed, and my late father had but passing recollection of its open operation. All that said, I have to say this building location is as odd as they come for a movie theatre IMO, which may have something to do with its rather short-termed longevity (astonishing that over its lifetime it was even totally rebuilt). Who would go to Grand & Lawndale to see a movie?

LouRugani on November 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

This was a 50x150' 1-story theatre building built for owner C. J. Moe by Grossman & Proskauer of 117 N. Dearborn Street.

GFeret on December 19, 2008 at 9:39 am

Didn’t think someone’d pounce on this very minor entry so fast!

I agree about the auditorium. From the Grand Ave front, the facade has yellow-brick funeral home all over it.

Broan on December 19, 2008 at 9:31 am – you can see the auditorium part is still intact. Even the projection booth. The lobby was probably just extensively remodeled. If you look at the street view the lobby side walls look about the same age. Remember the theatre was reconstructed in 1940, so it probably did not need too much updating.

GFeret on December 19, 2008 at 9:15 am

I so wish this theatre hadn’t closed when it apparently did, as it’s just a stone’s throw from where my family once lived, Dad referring to it I remember as the (former) REX.

When I see the place now – the church youth center appears closed – my distinct impression is only the rear half (against Division St) is part of original theatre left. The front half on Grand doesn’t blend at all, and later reconstruction I suspect stems from use as a funeral home in the ‘50s-'60s. I’d be interested what others may say.

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2008 at 7:03 pm

No, I didn’t know that. My feeling is that this should remain a church. That’s what all the evidence points to.

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2008 at 6:29 pm

This article mentions the COGIC church youth center. I think the blogger made a mistake as he listed the center at the same address as a diner which he mentioned in the same paragraph.

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

It looks like it says LOGIC or COGIC Youth Center on the sign, but I didn’t come up with anything on the internet. I think the Google photo was taken some years after the 2000 photo. I don’t think Google started photographing street locations until 2005 or 2006.

You can’t see it in my photo, but the plaque stating “Church of Christ” as seen in the 2000 view has now been erased.

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm

This is a photo I took off of Google maps. There is an auto repair shop at 3685 a few doors down. That plus the function as church leads to the conclusion that this is the New Rex. It looks like the sign says Youth Center, but that could be a church program.

Broan on October 6, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Further study reveals that the Lawndale opened in 1913. It appears that Blass removed the original auditorium or rebuilt it to be longer. The theater’s original architects were Grossman & Proskauer.

Broan on October 16, 2006 at 11:35 am

A Sept. 29, 1940 Tribune article: “The former 289 seat Grandale theater at 3679 Grand has been replaced with the 600 seat Rex theater designed by Roy B Blass.” So i’m not sure these were necessarily the same theater, although the same site. Blass often did renovation work though, and considering when it opened, it may well have been. I’m just not certain how that much seating could be gained, unless a stage was removed or walls pushed back or something. Here is a 2000 picture of the church.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 10, 2006 at 8:08 am

This opened as the Lawndale Theatre in 1914. From 1930 to 1936 it was re-named Grandale Theatre. In 1939 it re-opened as the Gene Theatre and from 1941 until closing in 1951 it became the New Rex Theatre.

It is currently in use as a church.