4816 N. Broadway,
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Friends of the Uptown Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Plitt Theatres, Publix Theaters Corporation
Architects: Cornelius Ward Rapp, George W. Leslie Rapp
Firms: Rapp & Rapp
Styles: Spanish Baroque
News About This Theater
- Apr 5, 2014 — Uptown endangered for the fourth time
- Sep 10, 2013 — Chicago movie palaces today
- Dec 19, 2011 — Volunteer caretakers prevent the Uptown Theatre from crumbling
- Oct 11, 2011 — Reviving the Uptown Theatre?
- Feb 4, 2010 — Castle Theatre to close for first time
- Oct 8, 2009 — Chicago theatres featured on public tv
- Aug 25, 2009 — A Special Day at the Sanfilippo Estate
- Oct 31, 2008 — New Regal hosts election festivities
- Aug 11, 2008 — 83 candles for Chicago's Uptown Theatre
- Aug 5, 2008 — Uptown letter from new owner
- Jul 29, 2008 — Uptown Theater sold to Jam Productions
- Jul 25, 2008 — Uptown Theater to be auctioned
- Apr 7, 2008 — Concert promoters in tug-of-war over Uptown
- Nov 16, 2007 — What are the ten most endangered theaters?
- Sep 14, 2007 — Preserving Palaces Film Festival Sept. 14-15
- Feb 22, 2007 — Chicago Uptown update?
- Sep 22, 2006 — Chicago Uptown news?
- Aug 25, 2006 — Uptown Theatre (Chicago) DVD Available
- Apr 26, 2006 — Preview the Uptown Theatre Documentary Trailer or Read the New Balaban & Katz Book
- Dec 28, 2005 — 'Palace Treasure' author to read at Chicago's Uptown
- Aug 23, 2005 — How You Can Help the Uptown Theatre
- Jul 20, 2005 — Uptown Community Portrait Set For Saturday, Aug. 20
- Apr 4, 2005 — See the UPTOWN, Chicago, on Monday, April 4
- Feb 21, 2005 — Monthly Uptown Socials Begin On March 7
- Feb 3, 2005 — What's Up With the Uptown Theatre?
- Sep 20, 2004 — Preservation Group Lists Five Chicago Movie Houses On Endanged List
- Apr 13, 2004 — Some "Friends of" Groups
- Feb 12, 2004 — See a Movie in Chicago's Inspiring Central Park Theatre
- Dec 15, 2003 — See a Movie at the Historic Central Park Theatre!
One of the last great movie palaces in Chicago, this fabulous theatre was built by Balaban & Katz Corp. in the Uptown neighborhood, north of downtown Chicago in 1925. The Uptown Theatre was the largest movie palace in Chicago, larger than any in the entertainment hub within the Chicago downtown known as ‘The Loop’, and according to the Theatre Historical Society of America list, was the 12th largest movie palaces ever built in the U.S.A. It was opened August 18, 1925 with the world premiere of First National Pictures “The Lady Who Lied” with Lewis Stone and Virginia Valli plus a Balaban & Katz stage presentation “Under Spanish Skies”. At opening the orchestra pit housed a 60-person orchestra and the theatre was equipped with a Wurlitzer Grande 4 manual 28 rank theatre organ which was opened by noted organist Jesse Crawford.
Changing times and the shift in population have not helped the Uptown Theatre and although it was a destination for moviegoers for several decades, it was closed December 19, 1981 with a concert by the J. Geils Band. In 1991 it was designated a Chicago Landmark. Unfortunately, the Uptown Theatre has succumbed to water damage, vandalism and the wear and tear of time. Every year its exterior stands stoically facing the cold winter while its interior slowly erodes.
The Uptown Theatre had become one of the last truly great movie palaces without a certain future. Preservationists and movie theatre enthusiasts enthused that the Uptown Theatre “must be saved before it is too late”. In 2014 the building was purchased by JAM Productions for $3.2 million. On June 29, 2018 it was announced that $75 million had been granted to restore the theatre, and it was approved by the Chicago Community Development Commission on November 13, 2018. Restoration work was planned to begin in August 2019 with a completion planned for early-2021. Unfortunately, this timeline passed and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. In March 2021 one of the backers for the restoration pulled out. Owners of the building JAM Productions have stated that restoration plans will go ahead when further funds become available.
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Recent comments (view all 517 comments)
Some more links to recent articles about the Uptown Theatre restoration!
Chicago Tribune: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ae-uptown-theatre-artifacts-jones-0127-story.html
Blockclub Chicago article from January 2020: https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/01/27/uptown-theater-renovation-work-could-begin-this-summer-alderman-says/
Blockclubchicago article from April 2019: https://blockclubchicago.org/2019/04/12/uptown-theatre-cac-event/
Architecture.org - lots of recent interior pictures here: https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/uptown-theatre/
Also, the company handling the restoration is:
Uptown Theatre Foundation, Inc 207 W Goethe St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Haven’t found a webpage for them yet.)
Uptown Theatre Foundation Inc. is the Uptown Theatre’s owners JAM Productions. That is their address on Goethe.
Filming currently taking place at the Uptown.
A 2011 link with August 27, 1976 Bay City Rollers photos. I scrolled back and did not see it as being posted before.
This documentary confirms the vertical UPTOWN letters were still in place in `81. 0:22 in the video.
So what’s going on with this theatre will it ever be restored?
Chicgao Block Club piece on the passing of Uptown Theatre advocate Bob Boin.
Although it has probably already been brought to everyone’s attention (I did not have the time to read thru 515 previous comments) the Wurlitzer theatre organ, Opus 1060, was 4 manuals and 28 ranks and not the 20 ranks listed in the opening description. The console for this organ was the first time Wurlitzer installed a 4 manual key desk in a 5 manual console shell. This would have preceded the 5 Fox Specials, the first of which, was installed in the NY Paramount Theatre.
Blog with a newly found 1933 fire photo of Green Mill Gardens building next door.