Brighton Theatre

4223 S. Archer Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60632

Unfavorite 13 people favorited this theater

January 27, 1957 photo credit Eugene Powers, Vintage Tribune.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Brighton Park Theatre in 1919, it was built for the Schoenstadt circuit by the architectural firm of Levy & Klein, whose other Chicago theatres include the North Side’s Granada Theatre and Diversey Theatre (later the Century Theatre). It was named for the neighborhood it was located in and stood on S. Archer Avenue near S. Sacramento Avenue.

The Brighton Park Theatre, which did not have a stage and was built specifically for movies, also contained a 2/6 Kimball organ.

The theatre was known as the Brighton Theatre after the ‘Park’ portion of its name was dropped during the 1950’s.

After a long life as a popular neighborhood house, it closed its doors in 1991, and in September 2003, was torn down.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 79 comments)

VintageBob on March 15, 2010 at 1:09 am

Anyone who wants a piece of the facade, just email me at the address listed in my profile and I’ll send it out. All I ask is a couple of bucks to cover shipping, I don’t want to make money off it. Just sharing the love. :–)

VintageBob on April 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Those who want a piece of the facade, please email me at junk(at)undermountain(dot)org and replace the (at) with @ and the (dot) with .

Lamper on June 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm

First off I am so glad I found this site!!! I have enjoyed reading all and I mean all the post about several of the theaters that I have looked up.
As far as the Brighton theater goes I had the opportunity to provide lighting equipment and work an underground rave party there back in late early 1998. When we did our site survey for the place once in we were created by two large dogs that were there for security reasons the caretaker put them on leashes and the hounds of hell were calm and friendly from that point on. I was pretty amazed by the place, it wasn’t what I expected at all. The main floor of the auditorium had all the seats removed, and the caretaker couldn’t tell me what had happened to them. The stage area itself was in so so shape the floor had some soft spots and an access latter that would lead to above the ceiling and grid of the stage didn’t look that safe, that caretaker said it was and said that it would be a problem to cut holes into the ceiling to allow for hang points to fly our equipment. All the wall sconce lighting was still intact and I would say 70% functioning we were all armed with flashlights because we just knew that lighting in old places like this that had been inactive never good lighting. From what I remember the walls and ceiling wasn’t in too bad of shape the water damage wasn’t that bad. The balcony had all the of the seats in it, don’t know if they were original as looked to be of a style you would see in a old Doctors office waiting room… wooden and kind of art deco looking. The projection booth was intact and still had a projector in it; sorry don’t know what kind it was I wasn’t into that type of thing back then my partner did offer to buy it and the caretaker responded with something along the lines of ‘If you want to move it I am sure the owner of the place would let you take it or you can take it right now if you want.”. The overall condition of the booth was to be honest trashed I think the caretaker was living there along with the demons of his life he didn’t want us in there for any length of time. The lobby area from what I remember was rundown and dirty but you could still see a lot of the detail. I seem to remember a nice white (at one time pristine) marble floor and brass railings that lead to the restroom lounge area.
About a week or so later was the rave party, we loaded in through a house left door near the stage, so that would be like the south east corner of the auditorium. We set most of our equipment on our own stands and what not with the exception of brackets that we made to hang of the balcony that were designed and fabricated to allow for only a small anchor bolt to the balcony wall… I hate to say that when we had the opportunity to fabricate and temporary install some type of support we did but I can tell you that the anchor bolt wasn’t more that ½” X 1.5”. When I arrived later that night to “work” the show I was amazed at the crowd this rave pulled in. The place was packed and happing, I asked my partner how come he was going so heavy on the fog machine that night and he replied with “cant you feel it, its water vapor from all the kids dancing and sweating.” I did snap some 35 mm photos but once developed I was kind of upset because the vapor in the air just made the pictures look like some foggy night on the lakefront.
We did one more rave at the Brighton later in the summer, with the establishment of city cracking down on this type of party, for good and bad reasons no more raves were put on here. I am sure that the CPD knew something was going on when there was 500-600 + kids leaving the area @ 6am on a Sunday morning.
I know the area pretty well my old man had a shop a few miles to the east on 35th street so from time to time I would cruise down Archer and see the for sale sign up and think how awesome it would be to own this place and make it a venue for live legitimate taxable entertainment.
Some might say that this is a true hood, but there are still a number of good families in the area that work hard for their money and might have supported a place like this if it was ran by someone with the passion for good live entertainment.
Some might hate to see these place turned into live venues catering to the full scope of music… but it keeps them from the same fate as the Brighton.
In the words of my old man “More condos, where are all these peoples coming from and where are they getting the money from!!!”
Just wanted to share my stories of this place

VintageBob on June 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Just an FYI – several people have written me asking for a piece of the facade, but never wrote back with their address. If anyone wants a piece, all I’m asking is enough to cover shipping. Not looking to make any profit. I’d just love for other fans who cherished this theater to be able to have a piece of it to remember it by.

Broan on November 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Here is a 1956 photo of the Brighton

csigrandma on February 26, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Bill Nellis.. I read your posts.. could you please contact me at / I read you grew up in the neigborhood.. and I was to ask you a few questions about that neighborhood in the mid fifties. Thanks

bdown on February 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm

The last movie I saw here was Remo Williams in 1985. I don’t know if this cultural “shift” happened before then, but I can tell you that the Brighton was a dingy dump.

DavidZornig on July 11, 2017 at 12:27 am

January 27, 1957 photo added, photo credit Eugene Powers, Vintage Tribune.

Also the below Flickr link has July 6, 2002 photo of the shuttered Brighton.

Mister_Comics on July 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Brighton Theater is also known for the last place the Grimes sisters were last seen alive before their murder. The movie playing at the time was Love Me Tender, a Elvis Presley movie. This happened in 1956 and the crime was never solved. This horrible event has always stuck with the theater. Today, now that the theater is closed, this event has been long forgotten.

VICGRIGS on January 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm

“vintage Bob” are you still out there? A friend of ours bought the theatre after it closed in 1991, with plans to restore it, but couldn’t afford the back taxes on it. Our band jammed there the entire summer while we helped trying to restore it. a piece of that theatre that i could share with the other folks would be incredible. let me know if you are still out there:)

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater