4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
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Opened in 1920 as the Portage Park Theater (the former name is still inscribed over the Neo-Classical style facade), this was the first theater built specifically for movies (and not vaudeville shows) in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. The theater was built for the Ascher Brothers circuit and originally could seat nearly 2,000.
The Portage Theater 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 Theater was shuttered in 2001 after operating sporadically for the previous couple years. The theater was restorated and renovated, and reopened in the spring of 2006 as a single-screen, 1,300-plus seat theater featuring both silent and sound classic motion pictures and other events, both on-screen and live.
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