Brighton Theatre

4223 S. Archer Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60632

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Original Brighton Park Theater facade

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Brighton Park in 1919, this theater was built for the Schoenstadt circuit by the firm of Levy & Klein, whose other Chicago theaters include the North Side’s Granada and Diversey (later the Century) Theatres. It was named for the neighborhood it was located in and stood on Archer Avenue near 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 theater was known as the Brighton after the ‘Park’ portion of its name was dropped during the 50s.

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 77 comments)

sfletch77
sfletch77 on February 15, 2010 at 1:07 am

Vintage Bob: really interested in getting a couple pieces of that facade from you if possible… As I’m sure is the case with a lot of people on here, the Brighton was an integral part of my childhood… definitely miss that place a lot. Really takes me back to a simpler, happier time!

sastudillo
sastudillo on March 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

I would be interested in a couple pieces of the facade as well. I am going research on the area because my mom always went to the Brighton Theatre. I have some of the pictures, thanks to this website. My grandfather was a hot dog vendor who always stood in front of Wolf’s Furniture store. If anyone would happen to have a photo of the furniture store or pehaps one with a hot dog vendor in front from the 50s-70s, please let me know. Thanks so much.

VintageBob
VintageBob on March 15, 2010 at 12:09 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. :–)

michelle4p
michelle4p on March 18, 2010 at 10:25 pm

the year it closed was when i was born. my mom used to tell me all about that theater and how if it was still there we would have loved it. me and my sister would create scary stories about that place and “planned” sneaking in. we hated it and got super sad when it got knocked down. we always thought it would be fixed and brought back.

VintageBob
VintageBob on April 22, 2010 at 7:18 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
Lamper on June 17, 2010 at 2:17 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
VintageBob on June 18, 2011 at 10:45 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
Broan on November 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Here is a 1956 photo of the Brighton

csigrandma
csigrandma on February 26, 2014 at 12:14 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
bdown on February 10, 2015 at 5:14 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.

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