Lawndale Theater

4015 West Roosevelt Road,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

GFeret on May 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

this place now has one of those big red ‘X’ signs tacked up on the front

i heard that’s supposed to indicate to first responders not to use herculean efforts to save the property in the event of a fire or something and above all, not to try going inside it to rescue anybody because it’s (supposed to be) vacant unless they have specific info/instructions to the contrary

but to me that big red ‘X’ seems more like a roundabout warning to homeless & vagrants not to venture inside because nobody’s going to come looking for you if there’s a property emergency

GFeret on April 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

the damage i’d mentioned has thankfully been now boarded-up

notice the rena theatre—as deteriorated as it is—still retains it’s original flagpole atop, a tall one. i don’t think others like it can say that

GFeret on March 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

passing RENA by earlier today i notice more than one boarded-up 1st floor window and door busted wide open

RickB on January 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Shots of five endangered Chicago palaces—including this one—and a Roger Ebert essay. Chicago Magazine

theatre123 on June 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

It has a facebook page….Lawndale Theatre Chicago Il

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on July 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

Recently I photographed the interior of the Lawnsdale.
Here is a blog post about it.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Great pictures,All.

jwballer on October 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

The theatre is being salvaged
View link

KenC on June 10, 2010 at 8:22 pm

In “IMAGES of AMERICA- CHICAGO’S JEWISH WEST SIDE” by Irving Cutler, there is a great pic of the Rena- marquee and vertical sign- on page 88.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

Probably just more sheep in the real estate boom.

GFeret on November 10, 2009 at 8:49 am

My RENA passby last week – not only no (restorative) activity there, it appears to be getting even worse shape. I predict no real hope, demolition inevitable, steal your last glimpses while you can there on Roosevelt.

scapone on June 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I drove by and the stained glass is partially broken, it appears as if someone threw a rock at it. I believe just east of the theater was there parking lot? It is covered by grass today.

GFeret on May 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm

A Feb. post above claims LAWNDALE/RENO renovation stalled, and having driven past there last week yes—unfortunately no (outwardly) visible progress at all.

WayOutWardell on April 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Great photos. It appears as though the square panes of glass in the window surrounding the medallion were later spray painted in various colors. The dropped ceiling that closes off the balcony and above from the main floor was done in a similar way at the Central Park/COGIC.

psefton on March 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Take a look at our new Lawndale Theatre page at

Did you know that Frank Nitti was once a silent partner in the Lawndale?

The first ad for the Rena appeared in the Chicago Tribune in October 1949.

Among the stars who performed live at the Lawndale/Rena were Paul Robeson, Dinah Washington, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, The Dells, Magic Sam, and Johnny Hartman.

Peter Sefton

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 2, 2009 at 11:48 am

Anyone have an update on project status? I have heard that the Lawndale renovation stalled. But I cannot confirm.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 30, 2008 at 5:53 am

Listed as the Lawndale Theater in 1955 with 2,000 seats.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Listed as the Rena in the 1953 Chicago yellow pages.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 31, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Many times Google maps will point to the wrong building. Try this link.

Copy and paste this address 4015 West Roosevelt Road Chicago, IL 60624 into the search box. The arrow will most likely point to the wrong building. The theater should be the large building to the West. You can rotate the map and zoom in on the building.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on May 31, 2008 at 6:07 am

You could be right about Google. The “Checks Cashed” building is next door to the east of the theatre.

OeOeO on May 30, 2008 at 8:35 pm

To get a street view of this theater, click on map next to the address above , then click street view. I am now convinced google is listing the incorrect addresses, however if you click on the west arrow it will take you up the street to the former Lawndale theater.

ToneDef on May 7, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Thanks so much for posting the photo albums. I worked in Lawndale from 1999-2002, and passed this theater every day. Back then it still operated as a church, and the building was in decent shape. I drove by this past March, and saw that the church had closed and that the building had deteriorated. I’m amazed that it had not been gutted by fire. Although the Lawndale does not have the historical significance of the nearby Central Park, it still would have been nice to preserve it. Maybe the new owners will take a cue from the owners of the Belmont Theater and Howard Theater, and restore the facade.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on May 6, 2008 at 6:58 pm

There’s not much left inside this theatre. Urban Remains (a local salvage company) has removed quite a bit of the ornamentation from the interior of the building. Supposedly the attached building is being turned into apartments while the theatre will be used as storage. I was told that the stained glass emblem was removed last week by the salvagers who plan on displaying it in their museum. A couple weeks ago they let me into the theatre to take pictures that I have posted on photobucket. I have a couple pictures of the stained glass window which was still intact on my visit. The auditorium was very dark so taking pictures was a little tricky (walking around was also very tricky!). I have some really good pictures of the second floor lobby (where the stained glass window is). Even in its current state, it is obvious that this was a stunning theatre in its day. Here are two slide shows that I created from my pictures:

View link
View link

GFeret on April 3, 2008 at 11:58 am

If they’re re-habbing as you say BW it’d be very nice if they preserved this old ornamentation which may (or may not) be a genuine theater relic. Especially when you consider how long it seems to have survived, given the very deteriorated surroundings.