Monogram Theatre

3451 S. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60616

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The South Side Merit Theatre, one of several theatres and ballrooms on the old S. State Street entertainment district, opened in 1908, and sat 300. Like many of its neighbors, it presented both live stage acts, as well as motion pictures. It was enlarged in 1911 to seat almost 500.

Around 1915 it was renamed New Monogram Theatre. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Monogram Theatre hosted many of Jazz’s early greats, like "Ma" Rainey, Erskine Tate and Ethel Waters.

The theatre has since been razed and the site is today a parking lot across the street from the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

PAULB on February 13, 2004 at 6:56 pm

Did it have any affiliation with MONOGRAM PICTURES? I never believed the film company operated any cinemas, butlike PRC and other poverty row outfits, apparently they might. It is unusual to have the Monogram Theatre as a name…….anyone? PAUL BRENNAN.

kencmcintyre on March 25, 2006 at 8:22 pm

An ad in the Freeman, an African-American newspaper, circa 1917, shows the address as 3451 South State Street. The ad describes the theater as “The Home of Colored Vaudeville”.

seymourcox on January 14, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Operators of the Grand Theatre in Tulsa agreed to an exclusive booking agreement with Grand National Pictures, in association with Monogram Studios, to exhibit only product from those two mentioned production companies. During WWII years this contract was mutually cancelled to allow the Grand to switch over to showing only newsreels.

justjan on December 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I learned of the Monogram Theater while reading the last pages of the novel “Not Without Laughter” by Langston Hughes. I grew up in the near vicinity of the theater, some years after it was closed. My curiosity of the authenticity of this place lead me to this site and a 1928 article in the Defender newspaper that remains in print.

DavidZornig on November 23, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Below book link claims there were two Monogram Theaters. The first Old Monogram which opened about 1910 at 3026-3028 South State Street. Then the New Monogram that opened in November 1913, in the old Merit Theater building at 3453 South State Street. Much more about both Monogram’s below.

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