Merle Reskin Theatre

60 E. Balbo Drive,
Chicago, IL 60604

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DavidZornig on June 24, 2018 at 9:17 am

DePaul Blackstone Theatre ghost sign added, 2018 photo credit Irmela Levin.

Mister_Comics on October 17, 2017 at 9:28 am

I visited the Merle Reskin Theatre during their OHC Open House Chicago event. I got the chance to ask about movies that were shown there. The expert they had there didn’t have much knowledge about which old movies that were shown there in the early days of the theatre. Today they use a screen set up on stage for special events like this (OHC). See Photo section for a photo of this. I was told “occasionally” they had movies. But as of right now there is no history as to what movies were shown at the theatre. During times when there were no plays being performed they would open doors to civic and fraternal organizations. Some times a movie was shown.

1916 the theatre was used for Women’s Suffrage Rally and Conference.

1925 the theatre had live broadcasts of stage performances that could be heard on Chicago-area radio station WTAS.

Scott on October 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm

It would be interesting to know what other movies played there, if any. Regardless, I agree that the evidence is sufficient to list this as a Cinema Treasure.

Mister_Comics on October 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

I think we can say that the Blackstone “was sometimes used as a movie theatre”. There’s enough evidence that has been found to substantiate “The Birth of a Race” was shown there. (Great find on the ad Comfortably Cool (posted in Photos section)) Now who wants to find other movies shown there to prove this wasn’t the only movie. There are hints that, from the depression era there may have been other movies shown there. Or is going on necessary?

Scott on October 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

If we could find that projector it would likely validate the Blackstone being listed on this site. Maybe it’s still in the theatre somewhere.

Mister_Comics on October 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Somewhere, some place, sits the 1918 projector used in the Blackstone Theatre. Its probably sitting in some obscure museum or dusty attic right now.

Scott on October 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Comfortably Cool – okay, it showed one movie. I don’t see the calamity with listing this theatre here. It’s certainly more of a treasure than most mall cinemas. Also, I’ve never been in the place but I’m wondering if it has, or had, a projection room? Not sure how that would have been handled back in 1910, or 1919 when the one movie was shown. I guess if just one movie was shown they must have set up a temporary projector somehow.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

JAlex- this matter has come up here several times in the past. It doesn’t have to be a seperate website, just a link here to a section called “Stage Treasures” or “Live Treasures” where all of these non-movie theaters and concert halls could be listed. Then this website could be a one-stop resource for all kinds of theater buildings.

JAlex on October 2, 2017 at 9:13 am

Anyone want to start a new website: Legitimate Theatre Treasures?

Scott on October 2, 2017 at 8:03 am

And yet, if this entry is deleted, all that great research you did will go to waste. And future wannabe theatre connoisseurs perusing this site will never know that the Blackstone did indeed show at least a few movies over its long life.

Mister_Comics on September 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I too have read that links' site. There’s a lot to read. It appears they left out, or avoided, mentioning movies(?), radio broadcasts, or meetings held there. There were periods of time when plays were not being shown. It could be during those times they may have had movies there? I’m still on the fence about this place being a movie theater too. The only connection with “Movie Theaters” that I could find was the designer Benjamin Howard Marshall also designed the Illinois Theatre.

DavidZornig on September 29, 2017 at 5:02 am

Click on The Merle Reskin Theatre beneath Alumni On The Stage within the chronology in the below link.

Mister_Comics on September 28, 2017 at 11:55 am

I wish I had evidence of “sometimes used as a movie theatre”. All I can say is I once read somewhere that the Theatre was to be called “The Movie Theatre” (or Palace). As far as movies being shown that was during its infancy. Pretty sure its been all plays for a long time now. Maybe occasionally, but definitely not a lot of movies. We could say that the Adler Planetarium is a theatre too because it shows movies in its auditorium. Places that do this sort of thing are not thought of as movie theaters. Depends on how you want to look at it.

Trolleyguy on September 27, 2017 at 8:39 am

David, as a life-long Chicagoan, I can relate to the street name being mangled. Even by folks who live here.

DavidZornig on September 27, 2017 at 5:53 am

Five photos added. Recent one shows the 5 round windows along the top have been removed.

DavidZornig on September 27, 2017 at 5:48 am

Open House Chicago link with multiple interior photos.

DavidZornig on September 27, 2017 at 5:35 am

The street name is Balbo Drive, not Balboa. Originally 7th Street, it was renamed in 1933 after Italo Balbo. Not sure why maps are showing it as an Avenue. There was recently a protest to rename it after Ida B. Wells. Two links below.