20th Century Theatre

3538 W. Roosevelt Road,
Chicago, IL 60624

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The 20th Century Theatre opened in 1913 in the Lawndale neighborhood on Roosevelt Road (then still called 12th Street) near Central Park Avenue. It was across the street from the Central Park Theatre, which opened in 1917 and is considered to be the Balaban & Katz chain’s first true “movie palace”.

In its final years in operation, the 20th Century Theatre was part of the Cooper-Kirsch Theaters chain and the Allied circuit. The theater closed in 1958 and was converted into retail use. It has since been demolished.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 19, 2008 at 12:35 pm

There’s a church and a liquor store at this address. The church looks more like a former theater. Any ideas?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 19, 2008 at 12:47 pm

The church is located at the old Central Park Theatre.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 19, 2008 at 1:02 pm

I think that is a mistaken assumption. The liquor store doesn’t look like an old 750 seat theatre to me.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 19, 2008 at 1:11 pm

The building to the left is a church.

Broan
Broan on December 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm

http://www.historicaerials.com/?poi=3379 – If you switch to the 1938 aerial, you can see the old auditorium was to the rear of the lot, running parallel to the street. It is gone.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Looks like it was directly across from the Central Park, which would mean the liquor store was built on the west end of the theatre property after demolition. To my eye the theatre complex also looks like it was directly next door to the vintage building still found directly west of the liquor store.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 19, 2008 at 2:48 pm

On a side-note, I still can’t believe that entire Sears complex directly to the north has been demolished.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm

More on the Sears complex:

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Many patrons of the Central Park and 20th Century must have worked there and lived nearby. This is the concept that made the neighborhood movie palace a success. It was pretty sharp marketing. Imagine working in a drab industrial setting and being able to walk down the street and hang out in a “palace”.

KenC
KenC on December 27, 2008 at 8:34 am

From the Chicago Sun Times movie listings-Friday May 17, 1957: 20th CENTURY 3530 W. Roosevelt Road CHA-CHA-CHA vs. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL “Cha-Cha-Cha Boom!” ALSO IN C'SCOPE! “Gun for a Coward”.

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