Portage Theatre

4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Portage Theatre

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Opened December 11, 1920 with Jack Pickford in “Just Out of College”. The Portage Park Theatre (the former name is still inscribed over the Neo-Classical style facade), was the first theatre built specifically for movies (and not vaudeville shows) in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. The theatre was built for the Ascher Brothers circuit and originally could seat nearly 2,000.

The Portage Theatre remained a popular fixture of the neighborhood for decades, becoming a second-run movie house in the 1960’s. In the 1980’s, its auditorium was divided in two by putting a wall down the middle of the auditorium.

Oddly, after the box office stopped being used, tickets were then sold in the lobby off a table and folding chairs set up school bake sale style.

The Portage Theatre was shuttered in 2001 after operating sporadically for the previous couple years. The theatre was restorated and renovated, and reopened in the spring of 2006 as a single-screen, 1,300-plus seat theatre featuring both silent and sound classic motion pictures and other events, both on-screen and live.

It was closed on May 25, 2013, and reopened in June 2014.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 202 comments)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 17, 2014 at 5:15 am

Kind of sounds like someone got bribed. On the other hand the city is really hard up for cash right now. They may be doing anything they can to get money in the door. Whatever the case, the Jefferson Park Police Commander doesn’t sound like he’s in the mood to take any crap.

CrustyB on August 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The place is a dump.

Today I went to a showing of American Grafitti and a vintage car show. I understand this theater has been rehabbed but it was still crappy compared to other refurbished movie houses like The Music Box and The Vic. “30 classic cars” turned out the be four, no one took my ticket when I went in, “American Grafitti” started 15 minutes late and there was a loud buzz on the speakers. Walked out after 10 minutes. Let it turn into a church.

DavidZornig on August 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Wow. I’m pretty dialed into the classic car community, and I hadn’t even heard of this. Must have been piss poor promotion in advance. My buddy has the replica Graffiti Deuce Coupe. He could have been hired to park out front. Even Candy still does personal appearances with enough notice. (Music Box would have probably had both.) The big Eli’s show was out on Forest Preserve Drive today too. So they were never gonna siphon off that crowd. Sounds like they just didn’t know what they were doing. Thanks for the heads up.

LouRugani on October 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

There’ll be a lecture on abandoned theatres in partnership with the Theatre Historical Society of America at the Portage Theatre on Thursday November 13, 2014. Doors open at 6:30 and the lecture starts at 7:00. Admission is free. The lecture will be an updated version of “The Fall of the American Movie Palace” with photographs of the Loew’s Kings Theatre renovation.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

This opened on December 11th, 1920. Its grand opening ad in the photo section.

DavidZornig on January 8, 2017 at 8:51 am

Rear or side entrance appears several times in this film beginning at the 59:17 mark.


Broan on January 8, 2017 at 9:26 am

Try http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/17506 for those, david

DavidZornig on January 8, 2017 at 11:26 am

Ah thanks, will do.

DavidZornig on December 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm

It appears they will be closing in February 2018.


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