Rhodes Theatre

544 E. 79th Street,
Chicago, IL 60619

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Showing 17 comments

KevinJ on December 2, 2012 at 1:00 am

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

rivest266 on June 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

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

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm

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

BobArr on January 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

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


BobArr on January 25, 2011 at 3:38 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.


vicboda on October 5, 2009 at 9:43 am

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.

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 8:15 pm

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

NickCoston on July 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

thanks, that’s a great site.

kencmcintyre on December 15, 2006 at 12:13 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.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 13, 2006 at 5:20 pm

What makes the Rhodes especially a bummer is that it looked to be all original. I was never inside the building. But the exterior was certainly all original during the last years that it sat vacant. Box office, entrance doors, marquee and especially the towering art deco RHODES vertical sign were all original. It was a very cool sight to see after first viewing some other late Chicago-area Rapp & Rapps: the Cine on Devon (building completely butchered) and the Will Rogers on Belmont (which at the time was intact but with a modernized exterior).

I think someone told me that there is nothing on the Rhodes site now. If you tear down a building in decent repair with architectural integrity and build a revenue-producing structure: OK. You can argue with me. But if you tear down such a building and do nothing but create another vacant parcel in an already depressed neighborhood it is bogus.

I suppose it must have been a matter of property taxes. Or maybe the city came to possess it. Either way, although I can understand the business reasoning, it is awfully weak to take such an action.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 11, 2006 at 6:02 pm

The Rhodes stood at least until the late 80’s: ‘87 or '88 maybe. That is the last time I saw the building. I think it stood into the 90’s.

Billybp on January 23, 2006 at 12:18 pm

I spent my younger years in the Chatham area, lived at 8316 Rhodes av from 1938 to 1953 and spent many hours with my family and friends at this fine theater. The Rhodes had a great soda fountain in the same building one door to the west and was located across 79th street from the famous Riley’s Trick Shop on Rhodes Av a few doors south of 79th Street. My friends and I would get tickets to Saturday afternoon matinees at Dixon School, buy our pop corn and candy and watch the Andy Hardy serials, Tom Mix etc etc. What a great place.

Does anyone know exactly who’s prints were in the lobby and possibly what happened to them when the building was demolished?

Bill Pierce

NickCoston on June 6, 2005 at 2:09 pm

I went in there in 1984, right before it closed. Theye were playing second run action flims, charging $3.00. They were taking cash at the door, the boxoffice was closed. The place was jammed!
My Dad was an usher there in the 40’s was there when it opened.

Nick Coston

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 23, 2005 at 5:44 pm

The Rhodes Theatre was built in 1937 with 1430 seats.

dvdmike on January 23, 2005 at 5:27 pm

It was a second-run theater in the ‘70s and '80s. The only films that I remember seeing there were “She” starring Ursula Andress and “Grease.”