Avalon Regal Theater

1645 E. 79th Street,
Chicago, IL 60649

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Avalon Theatre

The Avalon Theatre opened on August 29th, 1927 with Douglas MacLean in “Soft Cushions” on the screen and on stage a musical presentation “Dreams of Araby” performed by Bobby Fisher. With over 2,500-seats, the theatre is famous for its elaborate and exotic interior, which was designed in Middle Eastern style by John Eberson (who also designed the long-lost Paradise Theatre, in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood) for the Cooney Brothers circuit. The Avalon Theatre stands on E. 79th Street between S. Cornell Avenue and S. East End Avenue, in the South Shore neighborhood. It became part of the Warner Brothers circuit during the 1930’s when stage productions were dropped, and they operated it as a full-time movie theatre into the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Its fantastic decor included an Atmospheric style auditorium with a star-filled deep blue sky and a Persian bazaar on the side walls. Hanging from the soaring lobby ceiling is what was once described as the largest oriental rug ever made, a flying carpet if you will.

Additionally, there are five huge murals in the lobby, which were made of tiny inlaid mosaic tiles, and a giant stage, which is guarded by four menacing gargoyles. The theatre also once contained a 3/15 Wurlitzer theatre organ.

After closing as a movie house in the late-1970’s, the theatre became home to the Miracle Temple Church, but in 1987, was reborn as a performing arts venue. During this conversion, the theatre was returned to its original appearance and renamed the New Regal Theatre, in honor of Chicago’s legendary original Regal Theatre, which was razed after a fire severely damaged it in the early-1970’s. In June 1992 the New Regal Theatre was designated a Chicago landmark.

After years of low attendance, and often standing dark for long stretches of time, the New Regal Theatre’s management announced that the great former movie palace would be closing at the end of June 2003.

Luckily, after three years closure, this landmarked treasure was rescued once more, and didn’t meet the fate of its fabled namesake over three decades ago. The New Regal Theatre re-opened in October 2007 as a venue for concerts and other live performances, with the “New” portion of the theater’s name gone. It is totally black owned and managed by a non-profit organization ‘We Are Our Brother’s Keeper’. It was closed in 2010 when the operators were made bankrupt. The building was purchased by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

It was set to re-opened October 1, 2017 as the Avalon Regal Theater, but that never happened. On September 9, 2018 singer Kayne West announced he would be involved with getting the theatre open again.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 76 comments)

whtesoxfan56
whtesoxfan56 on November 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Anyway, my album of Open House Chicago 2014 pics. Not all pics are up yet(Saturday stuff is except for one pic, as of now the only things I’ve uploaded so far. a lot, lot more to come….), and the Regal Theater pics are towards the end of the album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/prfsnlwannabe/sets/72157647007243464

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 1, 2015 at 7:10 am

The new owners of the New Regal/Avalon Theatre in Chicago are trying to reopen the theater as a performing arts center. They’ve launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the remaining $100,000 needed to open the theater.

You can contribute to the kickstarter campaign here: Resurrecting the Legendary New Regal Theater

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Article from this morning. Copy and paste to view.

http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/04/resurrecting-one-of-chicagos-most-endangered-landmarks/389739/

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 17, 2016 at 7:17 am

Potential venue for hologram concerts now.

https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160217/south-shore/hologram-concerts-of-dead-legends-could-be-next-life-for-new-regal-theater

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on March 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Update on the new Avalon Regal Theater.

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/kapos-new-life-for-new-regal/amp/

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 16, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Set to reopen October 1st.

http://chicagoist.com/2017/06/16/a_chicago_theater_will_start_hostin.php?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Chicagoist+Daily+Trump+Claims+Chicago+Is+Worse+Than+War-Torn+Places+In+Middle+East&utm_content=Daily+Chicagoist+Daily+Trump+Claims+Chicago+Is+Worse+Than+War-Torn+Places+In+Middle+East+CID_ecdcf602e19b62b722403a3747ee4f72&utm_source=CM&utm_term=Iconic+Avalon+Regal+Theater+Will+Specialize+In+Hologram+Shows+Starting+This+Fall

LouRugani
LouRugani on September 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm

(Amber Fisher, Sep. 10, 2018) – Kanye West announced on Sunday, Sept. 9 that he supports the restoration of the Avalon Regal Theater in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, which has since been transformed into a church, then a performing arts venue. “We’re doing Chicago Comedy Jam. We’re going to restore the Regal Theatre,” tweeted West, a South Side native. According to several reports, West was likely referring to the Chi City Comedy Jam, an annual stand-up comedy festival that features black comedians from Chicago. This year’s Chi City Comedy Jam will be held Oct. 5-6 at the Arie Crown Theatre. No further details were forthcoming about when the festival would be held at the Avalon Regal Theater. South Side native and entrepreneur Jerald Gary, 33, bought the theater for $100,000 in 2014, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He’s since been trying to raise money to fix up the building, and sent a message to the Sun-Times saying he acknowledged West’s tweet, according to the report. Gary couldn’t be reached for further comment, the Sun-Times reported.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 23, 2019 at 9:28 am

Link from August 2017 with photos.

https://www.urbanremainschicago.com/news-and-events/2017/08/02/john-ebersons-persian-atmospheric-regal-theater-with-star-filled-auditorium-and-forgotten-attic-objects/?fbclid=IwAR2YTIoch_iP-JA5BWPrSL_pJCBdhQiDwgZ3qm7mzI4qdDg6nll9pKjMgrQ

LuisV
LuisV on August 14, 2019 at 6:16 am

Hope this winds up being true, but Kanye West says he will be restoring this amazing theater.

https://therealdeal.com/national/2019/08/14/kanye-west-wants-to-be-the-henry-ford-of-real-estate-heres-what-hes-done-so-far/#new_tab?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=feature_posts

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 17, 2019 at 7:56 am

I haven’t been down 79th Street east of the Dan Ryan in about two years. But at that time it was pretty rough. Boarded up buildings, vacant lots, a bunch of police tape from some large recent crime, two menacing guys sitting inside a car parked in a vacant lot doing God knows what.

This is an incredible building in decent shape. But I suspect there are many challenges involved in bringing it back to life.

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