Banner Theatre

1611 N. Damen Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60647

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BANNER Theatre: Chicago, Illinois.

Located in the Wicker Park neighborhood at the intersection of N. Damen Avenue, N. Milwaukee Avenue and W. North Avenue. The Banner Theatre was opened in 1910, a conversion of an existing building to the plans of architect William J. Van Keuren. It was remodelled in 1934 in a Streamline Moderne style to the plans of architect Mark D. Kalischer. This former movie house was razed around 1952. There is a parking lot on the site today.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Daniel on November 2, 2005 at 7:59 am

Banner Theater was located at one of the busiest triple intersections on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side, in the heart of the historic Wicker Park community. The theater was just around the corner from the confluence of Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenues, in a deep and very narrow building, rather gloomy-looking, outside and in. Two doors to the north was a Chicago fire department station, a hook & ladder company, home to a long, articulated rig, the kind with an elevated rear seat and steering wheel for a tillerman, seated high above, negotiating street corners. Often after exiting the Banner, my kid friends and I would stop at the fire house for a treat of a drink of water from a garden hose attached to a hydrant on the sidewalk out in front. The H & L house was a busy station, and when an alarm came in, or a rig returned from a “run,” the long truck was forced to manuever back and forth for some time, in order to negotiate the sharp turn on narrow Damen Avenue. Firefighters stood in front of the Banner with flares, blocking foot traffic and cars, until the rig was safely in or out of the station’s bay. Around the corner, to the east on North Avenue, was about the only Chinese restaurant in the predominently Polish-American community. As a family, we often took in a week-end movie at Banner, then scooted around the corner for a treat of Chinese cuisine, a great and exotic venture, and quite a change from kapusta and kielbasa and pierogi. (Gotcha?) Both the Banner and the firehouse have been replaced with a long parking lot— Joannie Mitchell, anyone?

kencmcintyre on December 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Here is an item in Boxoffice magazine, April 1950:

Nathan Slepyan, manager of the Banner Theater in Chicago, has joined the Schoenstadt circuit booking department.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm

The Banner Theatre originally opened around 1910. In 1934 the house was bought by Abe Gumbiner who had it remodeled in a Streamline Modern style, with plans by architect Mark D. Kalischer. Two pages about the project, with before and after photos, appeared in the May 4, 1935, issue of Motion Picture Herald.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 15, 2018 at 10:10 pm

This item from the February 12, 1910 issue of The Economist was about this theater:

“William J. Van Keuren has finished plans for remodeling an addition to a two story hall, 48x122 feet, at 1611 to 1615 North Robey street [now Damen Avenue], to be converted into a theater for F.C. Smalley. The improvements will cost $10,000.”

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