Rhodes Theater

544 E. 79th Street,
Chicago, IL 60619

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Rhodes Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This late Rapp & Rapp designed movie house, done in Art Moderne style in 1937, was located in the Chatham neighborhood, at the intersection of 79th Street and Rhodes Avenue.

For most of the 1930’s and 1940’s (and into the 1950’s), the Rhodes Theater was operated by the Warner Brothers (later Stanley-Warner) chain. From the mid-1960’s into the 1970’s, it was part of the Brotman & Sherman Theaters chain, which also acquired other former Warner houses such as the Avalon Theatre (New Regal), Capitol Theatre, and Met Theatre.

The Rhodes was open into the 80s, but, unfortunately, was demolished after it closed.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 15, 2006 at 3:13 pm

Here is an article in the Southeast Economist dated 11/18/37:

Tomorrow afternoon the Southeast community will welcome the grand opening of Warner Brothers' new Rhodes theater, 79th St. and Rhodes Ave., which promises to take a place as one of the finest theaters
in the city. Hundreds of people are expected to throng the streets in front of the theater to witness the opening ceremonies. Merchants of the E. 79th St. district have cooperated to dress their windows and erect pennants, flags and posters welcoming the new theater in a manner which will blend with the gay and festive mood of a premiere.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
At 5 p.m. Eleanor Root, recently named Eighth Ward Charter Jubilee beauty queen, will break the ribbon which has sealed the doors of the Warner Brothers' theater, and the community will receive its first glimpse of the interior, which has been termed unique by the nation’s theater architects. Immediately following the ribboncutting ceremony, 30 cement plaques of the footprints of Hollywood stars will be unveiled in the lobby of the theater.

To Unveil Plaques
One set of plaques, including the impressions of Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien and Henry Fonda, will be unveiled by Lois Wilson, who is appearing on the stage of one of the Loop theaters, while a second
set will be dedicated by Toby Wing, who is making an appearance at a Chicago night club. Helen Flint, appearing at the Grand Opera house, will unveil the third set of ten plaques. An elaborate opening program has been arranged for those attending the premiere performances in the Rhodes theater by Marlowe Connor, manager, who is well known in the community and was for a number of years manager of the Grove theater, 76th St. and Cottage Grove Ave.

Following the unveiling of the plaques, the Mothersingers of Arthur Dixon school, under the direction of Florence Jacobsen, will appear on the stage to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.” Short dedicatory
speeches will be given by Judge Eugene J. Holland and Ald. Michael P. Mulcahy (8th). Opening Programs included on the screen program, in addition to a feature picture starring Kenny Baker, erstwhile radio star, will be a color cartoon, an orchestral novelty, a color travelogue,a short reel showing the movie stars making the plaques unveiled in the lobby a Pathe newsreel of Dick Powell and Joan Blondell as they laid the first plaques last Friday.

Merchants Plan Welcome
According to Frank M. Dooley, 819 E. 79th St., chairman of the committee of merchants cooperating to welcome the thousands of fans expected to greet the new theater, special sales will be held for two weeks and posters and pennants are to be put up welcoming the new theater. The Grand Crossing – Chatham Chamber of Commerce and the business men of the E. 79th St. district have endorsed the opening of the new theater and are making special efforts to attract many visitors to the district.

Unique Construction
Modernly designed by C. W. and George L. Rapp, Inc., and constructed in record-breaking time by the J. W. Snyder company, the Rhodes theater is said to represent an advancement in theater construction
that is new and startling. Built solely for sound, the new theater, which is Warner Brothers' 17th in the city and 451st in America, represents the first use of concrete as a decorative scheme in the building of a theater. Extremely plain in exterior decoration, the effect is definitely alluring and the modern lines of the outside are equaled by a modern beauty of the interior.

Typical “First Night."
The block in which the theater is located will be brilliantly illuminated with irridescent lights of the building itself, while a battery of searchlights and floodlights will be focused directly upon the theater’s entrance, making daylight out of darkness throughout the entire evening. A number of motion picture and
newspaper photographers will be on hand to snap celebrities and prominent members of the community in the accepted "first-night” manner of Hollywood and New York, officials revealed yesterday.

NickCoston on July 8, 2007 at 9:12 pm

thanks, that’s a great site.

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Address was 538 E. 79th in the 1960 Chicago yellow pages.

vicboda on October 5, 2009 at 12:43 pm

This theater was part of the Brotman & Sherman chain for a while but they ran it down taking everything they could out of it and not putting anything back. Typical of the time.

BobArr on January 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I grew up in the shadow of the Rhodes—used to play softball in its parking lot, age 10-12. I recently made a video about it and put it on YouTube. You may enjoy it.


BobArr on January 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Sorry, that url didn’t become a normal link. I’ll post it as regular characters; you may have to cut and paste.


Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

1983 R rated and PG rated Double feature? hopefully, they got the kids out.

rivest266 on June 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm

This opened on November 19th, 1937. Grand opening ad in photo section.

KevinJ on December 2, 2012 at 4:00 am

They showed a lot of martial arts movies in the 80’s. I lived in the area then, movies were $1.

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