Montclare Theatre

7133 W. Grand Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60707

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Monclare Theatre Lobby Flier Inside

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1929, in the neighborhood of the same name, the Montclare sat about 1200, and was for decades a first-run theater until it was shuttered in 1985.

After closing, the former theater fell into serious disrepair, its owner turning a deaf ear to demands to either fix it up or demolish it. It was used by gangs and was set ablaze several times.

By the mid-1990s, a concerned citizen’s group began to petition the city to seize the property, condemn and tear it down, which it finally did in December of 1996.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

dsadowski on June 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm

re: a previous post about the zip code in this area. USPS never intended zip codes to define municipalities, only the areas served by particular post offices. The post office in the Montclare neighborhood also serves Elmwood Park, and the borderline is Harlem Avenue, a block or two west of where the Montclare was.

The area had a 60635 zip until some years ago, meaning Elmwood Park had a Chicago-style zip. Residents there lobbied for their own zip, probably due to redlining.

USPS responded by changing everyone’s zip to 60707, thus part of Chicago now has a suburban-style zip code.

Bobjl on February 18, 2008 at 6:32 am

Ah what memories. Growing up in Elmwood Park in the 70’s and 80’s, you had a choice of the Mercury or MontClare. Had my first real makeout session with my girlfriend there. Was adouble feature featuring “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” and “Sleepaway Camp.” Was so sad to see this grand old theater in such disaray. When my girlfriend and I took a break we noticed something walking up the aisle. My girlfriend said, “Look, it’s a cat.” We then noticed this was no cat. It was a huge rat! It is such a shame that this place couldn’t be rehabbed.

DavidZornig on August 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

My relatives talked of regularly going to The Montclare. They lived in River Grove at various times in the 30's &50’s.
The Montclare used to give away china plates & glassware in the `30’s. Somewhere I have a lobby flyer from that era, with the give-a-way of the week. I too saw the Hefner piece and thought it funny, that the famous bunny cuffs may have originated via his time at The Montclare. That alone should have saved the place. Whoever owned it at that time and let them in, should have pitched something to him.
What’s 1 Mil to Hef? Come on!

Of course the Grand Geneva in Wisconsin started as a Playboy Club. So they’d long ago liquidated any dead weight.

As with so many others, too bad this place is gone.

Trolleyguy on February 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

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TLSLOEWS on February 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

What a great vertical on the Montclare.

Kidjim25 on August 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Hi everyone. My grandfather and great uncle were the two optometrist’s in the shop next to the Montclare. I was wondering if there were any photos of the montclare that had a full shot of the optometric shop and the theater. If there is I’d really appreciate it! Thanks James Binder

DavidZornig on January 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

FYI. I added 2 photos of a Montclare lobby flier from 1936.

Trolleyguy on September 12, 2012 at 8:06 am

Interesting thing about the lobby flier display boxes. They spelled the theater’s name as “Montclair” cast in metal on the top. Wonder if anybody saved one of them?

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