Oakland Square Theater

3947 S. Drexel Boulevard,
Chicago, IL 60653

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1989 Press Photo (Source Unknown) of Chicago Police & Federal Agents Raid On The El Rukn Headquarters.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Oakland Square was opened on March 4, 1916, designed by Henry L. Newhouse for the Ascher Brothers circuit. In 1931 this theater was one of several in Chicago taken over by Warner Brothers Circuit Management Inc., later Stanley-Warner. In the mid-1960’s, the theater became part of the new Brotman & Sherman chain, initially mostly made up of former Warner theaters.

By the 1970’s, both the surrounding neighborhood and the theater itself fell into serious decline, and the Oakland Square Theatre closed not long afterwards. It became a hangout for gangs and illegal activities, and neighborhood leaders demanded the city of Chicago condemn the long-vacant building and have it razed, which finally occurred in 1990.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

phickey on January 14, 2004 at 11:14 pm

Thes was the headquarters of the El Rukin Street gang in the 1980"s, they called it the fort. It was a fortress windows blocked up, gates on doors and escape tunnels.

Broan on December 6, 2005 at 10:04 pm

It apparently was rather innovative when the project was announced; it was noted to contain “no wall seats” (boxes, I presume), held extra-wide seats, and was apparently both the city’s largest all-movie theater at the time, and “the first theater over 1,000 seats without a stage”. Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1915.

Broan on January 29, 2006 at 10:00 pm

There’s a photo in this sunday’s (1/29/06) Tribune Magazine of the theatre while the El Rukn gang controlled it. Pretty lovely building.

RickB on October 22, 2009 at 9:43 am

According to this blog post a spacious private residence has been built on the Oakland Square site.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 31, 2011 at 11:32 am

Inside the auditorum while it was under gang control:

View link

rivest266 on June 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

March 4, 1916 grand opening ad posted here.

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