Burnham Plaza Cinemas

826 S. Wabash Street,
Chicago, IL 60605

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The YMCA Hotel opened in 1915, located on Wabash Street in the South Loop, designed by architect Robert C. Berlin. Eleven years later, Berlin designed an addition to the hotel, in a similar style to his original.

In 1988, the building was converted over to mixed residential and retail use, including a multiplex cinema operated by Cineplex Odeon, located in a new addition to the original former YMCA Hotel building. The whole structure was known as Burnham Plaza.

After it was closed by the Meridian chain in 2000, the Burnham Plaza Cinemas were reopened by the Village Theatres chain, showing first-run features, but at bargain prices.

The Burnham Plaza Cinemas closed for good in September 2005. The building has since been converted into office space.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

teddy666
teddy666 on September 6, 2008 at 8:03 am

I worked as a manager at the Burnham for the Village Theater company on and off between 2002 – 2004. The theater was so enormous and creepy. After hours a bunch of us employees filmed a horror movie there, so as a result I have a bunch of dv footage of every room in that building. The theater had two projection booths on two seperate floors, and the quickest way to get to them in a hurry was to take the really creepy fire exit staircase. Incidentally, that was the same staircase the homeless would always break into to sneak and sleep in the theaters overnight. The place was gloomy, and Ron Rooding at one point had his goons begin work on a ticket booth on the floor above the escalators. It was never completed. The place was in fact, falling apart. I can see from experience what can happen to these old theaters when a company doesn’t put any money into repairing them right away. I can only imagine how those old loop theaters must have been run by Plitt in the 1980’s. It seems to me Plitt treated those majestic theaters with the same kind of “I don’t give a crap” attitude that the Village did with places like The Burnham, Water Tower, Village, and Biograph in the 2000’s.

teddy666
teddy666 on September 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm

It’s already on youtube! Search for the movie title: ‘Last Exit on Dead End Highway’. We shot all over the theater including in the offices and projection booths after hours.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Has anyone walked past the Roosevelt Collection development lately? I can’t wait for the theater to open. I wrote to Dean Kerasotes himself, and he gave me a few snipets of info

The largest auditoriums will have side-masking (a reason to reduce on going to River East)

Two of those largest screens will be about 65 feet wide for ‘scope’ presentations. Both will also have 21 and older balconies with seating for about 150. By now you’ve probably heard about Jerry Kleiner opening a bar at the theater’s upper level.

It will have digital (he didn’t say if it will be all-digital) projection

You’ve heard it here first. I miss the Burnham Plaza, but the Showplace 16 is almost here.

telliott
telliott on September 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

That sounds great! Where exactly is Roosevelt Collection and when is it opening? Any more info about the cinemas that were to be in Block 37 and when they might open?

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 7, 2009 at 10:46 pm

The project developer’s website for the Block 37 project (now called 108 North State) still says that Muvico is going to operate a theater on the shopping center section’s eighth floor. But Muvico just underwent a financial re-organization and sold off off some its theaters to Cinemark. There’s no mention of the Chicago downtown project on the Muvico site though does mention some other projected openings. 108 North State recently lost some previously announced high profile tenants (including Apple Computer). It would not surprise me if the proposed theater is on hold, perhaps indefinitely, given the state of the economy right now.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Roosevelt Collection is a rental apartment/retail development that’s located at 150 W Roosevelt Road (Roosevelt & Clark/Wells St). The theaters will be at the end of the center. This link has renderings on how the complex will look when finished.

The Block 37 project is still on. Muvico Theatres will be on the fifth floor I believe. Since David Barton Gym moved to Roosevelt Collection, maybe the seating capacity at 37 might be increased. It will still have seven screens. Opening is set for this fall.

telliott
telliott on September 8, 2009 at 12:03 am

Thanks, sounds exciting!

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on October 6, 2009 at 8:43 pm

According to the Kerasotes website, the theater at Roosevelt Collection is now known as the ShowPlace ICON Theatre. This sounds like Kerasotes is brining about a new brand within the corporation. They’re opening a similar location in St. Louis Park, MN next month.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on May 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I walked past here recently. Unless you’re a huge fan of late-1980s Cineplex-Odeon, Mesbur & Smith architecture, you’d never know a cinema was here. And even then you’d have to look closely.

The entranceway looks like any other professional building entrance. Windows have been cut into the side and the semi-circle where the staircase used to be. It’s really a bland-looking building.

It’s too bad Cineplex-Odeon and Loews gave up on this place so quickly and Meridian and Village ran it into the ground. Come to think of it, the Bricktown had a similar history (except that Village never ran that one).

johncoeland
johncoeland on March 18, 2011 at 6:59 am

Loews Cineplex unloaded the Burnham as quickly as they could. What little profit it generated was immediately consumed by HUGE maintenance costs due to vandalism and grafiti. Some locations are like that. The Icon works diligently to prevent that kind of distruction, and so far, seems to be winning.

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