Brighton Theatre

4223 S. Archer Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60632

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Showing 1 - 25 of 75 comments

bdown
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.

csigrandma
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

Broan
Broan on November 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Here is a 1956 photo of the Brighton

VintageBob
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.

Lamper
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
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 .

michelle4p
michelle4p on March 18, 2010 at 11:25 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 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. :–)

sastudillo
sastudillo on March 14, 2010 at 11:03 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.

sfletch77
sfletch77 on February 15, 2010 at 2:07 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!

Angie13
Angie13 on December 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I just wanted to thank everyone for there memories. Reading these posts has sent me back to some of the happiest moments in my life. I worked at Gertie’s in the late 70’s and early 80’s and it was a magical time. You could not have asked for a better neighborhood to grow up in like Brighton Park! The people who worked at the show would come in to Gertie’s daily. Most of them became friends. I am still dear friends with the ticket seller Sandy! We met when I was only 16 and that is a LONG time ago.
I found this site when I was looking for photos of Archer Ave. Gerties, the show, etc. from the 60’s 70' and 80’s. If anyone has any that they wouldn’t mind selling copies of, I would be very interested.
Thanks for taking me down memory lane.
Angie13

BillNellis
BillNellis on October 24, 2009 at 11:50 am

Vintage Bob: Thanks for the information, sad though it is. That’s what I feared would the situation. I’ve not lived in Chicago for many years.

VintageBob
VintageBob on October 18, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Unfortunately, there’s no way to resurrect the Brighton Theater. The Brighton Park neighborhood has become a crime-ridden slum. Most of the people there no longer even speak English. Education levels are far lower than what any of us remember (high illiteracy rate and high school drop out rate). Mexican gang bangers are on every corner and every building is tagged with graffiti. It’s a truly destroyed neighborhood. No wonder the property values have plummeted to badly. So re-opening the Brighton Theater would not be economically feasible. Not any more. Not in Brighton Park.

BillNellis
BillNellis on August 6, 2009 at 8:50 am

Dear sias88, The enthusiasm of youth can prevail ant day over the acceptance of things the way they are by the older generation. I would be delighted if you would prove me wrong about resurrecting a new Brighton Theater and improve the Brighton Park neighborhood in the process. If I were in your place, I would line up a bunch of like-minded young people and get going on this project. It sounds like you already have substantial community support. I would bet that the Mayor’s office would like to see a lot of neighborhood revitalization in Chicago. They might help you.

I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago in the Gage Park neighborhhood in the 1940s and early 1950s. It was the greatest place for this kid to have grown up. I thought then that we were poor because our family of 5 lived in a 1 bdrm apartment and my Dad did not own a car. However, we did not need a car because we could walk to virtually anywhere we wanted to go. On Saturday afternoons I walked to the Acadia Theater. My grandfather spent his life working at the Crane Co. on Kedzie Ave. When I went to Loyola in 1959 I met my college sweetheart of four years. She lived in Brighton Park and we used to go to the Brighton from time to time. You can make the good things from those early day return if you work at it.

sias88
sias88 on July 9, 2009 at 4:24 am

I think there still could be a way of rebuilding this theater.Many people around the neighborhood of Brighton Park would love to see a theater in our community once again.Especially for young couples that live in the area who are still not old enough to drive to a far away theater.Its sad how most memories that people cherish have to come to an end.I am 21 now and was 14 when they demolished this theater.My father and elderly people from the neighborhood have told me how nice this theater once was and wonder what was the reason why it was destroyed.Many theaters still stand and motion pictures continue to still be released,there just has to be a way of rebuilding this theater.

BillNellis
BillNellis on June 19, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Dear sias88, What killed so many movie theaters was the rise of home televisions in the mid 1950s. Theaters like the Brighton and thousands more on the Cinema Treasures website closed over the following 25 or so years . Around 1980 the film business began to bounce back but not in a way particularly valued by folks who frequent this website. Multi-screen theaters showing films devoted to violence, action, and computer-drawn special effects became common. Movies about interesting and significant human experience, which were so common before the mid 1950s, have pretty much disappeared, along with my college sweetheart. There is no possible way of rebuilding the Brighton.

sias88
sias88 on June 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I would like to know what was the reason they closed this theater and if there is any possible way of rebuilding it exactly the way it was or maybe even better.

thomandlinda
thomandlinda on April 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

Wow those photos take me back!! thanks

BillNellis
BillNellis on April 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm

In 1962 I saw South Pacific with my college sweetheart at the Brighton. I’ve never forgotten either one.

johnpopp
johnpopp on March 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

thomandlinda, If it’s the same Scott he was Sandy’s brother. Marty was there a lot of years. He was such a nice guy…full of stories. Was Bob L. still there? He was the assnt. manager when I was there.

johnpopp
johnpopp on March 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

Vintage Bob, I would like to get a small piece of the facade. I remember passing by once and it was an arts center and the next time I went by it was an empty lot! The block looks so vacant without the theater. Thanks, john.

thomandlinda
thomandlinda on March 5, 2009 at 10:06 am

I worked there in 84,the manager was Marty and there was Scott who helped run things,one of the counter girls name was Jenny. I went to St. Rita’s but never finished. I lived over on Spaulding and 43rd street.

VintageBob
VintageBob on March 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Thomandlinda and Johnp77, I have some nice pieces of the facade from when they tore it down. If you want, I can send you one as a souvenir. I grabbed a bunch when it was being torn down because I wanted a keepsake and a few friends did also, so I took more in case I ran into other people who might have wanted a keepsake. It was such a wonderful place!

johnpopp
johnpopp on March 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

thomandlinda….I worked at the theater late 70’s till around 81. Some of the ushers and all the candy counter girls went to Kelly HS.
Some ushers went to St. Rita’s. What year(s) did you work there? Maybe we remember some of the same people!