Harper Theater

5238 S. Harper Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60615

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Harper Theater

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The Harper Theater was built in 1914, but due to a legal dispute it didn’t open until May 24, 1915. This 1,201-seat theater was designed by architects Z. E. Smith and Horatio R. Wilson. It once contained a Kimball organ. In April 1930 it became part of the Schoenstadt circuit. In the late-1930’s it was remodeled by architect Mark D. Kalischer in a Stramline Moderne style.

It later become known as the Hyde Park 1 & 2 and still later was increased to four screens. After Schoenstadt, the theater was operated by Kohlberg Theatres, M & R Theatres, Sony Theatres, and finally the Meridian chain. The Hyde Park Theatres closed in spring of 2002.

The theater was renovated in 2011-2012 and reopened on January 18, 2013 under its original Harper Theater name. It still has four screens, but has been completely renovated inside, as well as given a new marquee and vertical sign. The theatre is owned by the University of Chicago, and is operated by the New 400 Theaters, which also manages the New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park. The reopening of the Harper Theater brings movies back to the Hyde Park area for the first time in over a decade.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 42 comments)

Ramova7719 on October 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Status should be renovating !

Broan on October 2, 2011 at 7:50 am

They do have their permits now. Status should be updated assuming they’ve started actual work.

Broan on October 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm

The status should be renovating. The attached building has been fully restored on the exterior and looks great. The 53rd street entrance to the theatre has been re-created beautifully, and the adjacent lobby seems to have been rediscovered. The blue and gold terra cotta on Harper Court is being destroyed, unfortunately. Assuming the exterior is done as well as the attached building, this will be gorgeous when complete.

Broan on October 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/breaking_ground_10.jpg Rendering

JudithK on January 22, 2012 at 6:10 am

As seen from my commuter train the Hyde Park Theatres (never visited it as I’m a suburbanite) is covered with scaffolding. As it is in an area of demolition/redevelopment, is the theatre going to be renovated, or demolished? For those of you who live, or have lived, in Hyde Park or Kenwood, here’s a link to the redevelopment going on. http://www.hydepark.org/historicpres/theater.htm

Stevewatchesmovies on January 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Just drove past today. The markee is up and it is being called the Harper theater. On the digital sign it said opening this Friday. I haven’t seen any info in the paper or online about if it. Is true or not. Bout time it opened back up.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on January 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Their website says they are opening on Friday. Here’s the link: http://www.harpertheater.com

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 1, 2014 at 6:32 am

With University of Chicago nearby this could work out well. The old 400 Theater near Loyala U. on the North Side still seems to be doing OK. As far as I know there are no other cinema options around Hyde Park.

mo4040 on July 16, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Just saw a movie there last Friday. The place is very clean and has a courteous staff. I grew up in Hyde Park and I am glad this venue has re-opened. Hopefully, with the U of C behind it, it will do well and be a positive for the neighborhood.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Mark D. Kalischer, architect for an extensive remodeling of the Harper Theatre in the 1930s, wrote an article about the house for the January 7, 1939, issue of Boxoffice, which has three photos of the Harper in its Streamline Modern configuration:

First page

Second page

In addition, another article in the same issue features a couple of small photos of the Harper’s remodeled rest rooms:

First page

Second page (no photos, but additional text for those who only get the magazine for the articles.)

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