340 E. 51st Street,
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The Willard, in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, on E. 51st Street at S. Calumet Avenue, was opened in 1911 for the Jones, Linick and Schaefer circuit, as a venue for both movies and live performances. From about 1917 to 1926, it was known as the New Park Theatre. The theatre could originally seat around 1,000, but seating was later reduced.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, like many South Side theatres, the Willard/New Park was a popular venue for jazz performers in addition to onscreen entertainment. It was acquired by the Essaness chain in its later years of operation.
The Willard Theatre closed as a movie theatre during the 1950’s, and today the building is home to a church and community center.
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