Southtown Theatre

610 W. 63rd Street,
Chicago, IL 60621

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Showing 1 - 25 of 118 comments

imquirky
imquirky on November 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I was taken there as a child in the mid 1950’s to see Disney films. We lived at 59th and Lowe so we just walked there.

I recall the ponds inside with ducks swimming in them.

smroz
smroz on June 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

My husband and I salvaged a few chunks of cast terra cotta from the demolition site. I think I was going to a co-worker’s shower out on the South side – must have been the same summer as the demo – and DH (bin diver that he is) drove by and scrounged whatever he could. My mom and dad used to go there; she always told me how beautiful it was. I hope this site stays alive – I found it through a search for the Peoples theater (47th & Ashland) where we went as kids in the ‘50s. My girlfriend and I would walk from 55th and Hermitage to the movies on Saturday – 25c for under twelve.

rivest266
rivest266 on June 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm

This opened on Christmas day of 1931. Grand opening ad uploaded in the photo section.

justinterested
justinterested on December 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I myself am 78, they don’t build theatres and anything with such grandeur any more. Englewood itself was a special place, as well as the Southtown and other theatres in that area. The days are long fone, but the memories will be around forever, as long as we oldsters are living.

CharlesZirino
CharlesZirino on December 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Well here I am Again!I will be 75 in March so the Southtown was only 6 years old when I was born Like a new baby.To Think that they could build a theater like that in those times right after the depression.Such craftsmen.The buildings downtown and in Englewood were also fabulous and at this Christmas time of the year there was nothing like it.Marshall Fields especially.Nothing tinny and cheap in those days and it made the holiday season fantastic for all the children.Money was tight but things always seemed to work Out. CharlesZirino

justinterested
justinterested on November 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

there may have been more than two dioramas, i do recall the 1871 Chicago Fire was one, also there was one of the Union Stockyards, there may even have been 4 of them.They were probably razed with the rest of the building, i was never in it after it became a store.

coyote
coyote on September 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I remember this one well….I wonder what ever happened to the dioramas outside the balcony. Besides the ducks and the swans, I think there were two of them, the dioramas were my favorite thing at the Southtown.

justinterested
justinterested on September 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Thank you all for the hard work finding information, and the pic of this beautiful old and lovely theatre. It was a joy to attend movies there. No one ever attended this theatre in the evening in jeans, all wore there Sunday best, and took their best girl there.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on April 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

(Southtown Economist, November 11, 1930)

BREAK GROUND FOR THEATER

1,500 PEOPLE SEE BALABAN BREAK LAND

Clubs Join in Ceremonies for $2,500,000 Movie

While a throng of more than 1,500 persons looked on, ground was broken yesterday noon at 63rd st. and Lowe Ave. for Southtown’s new $2,500,000 Balaban and Katz motion picture theater.
The beginning of construction for the new enterprise is regarded as an impetus for building operations throughout Southtown. Approximately 100 men will be employed for 240 days in the erection of the new theater. This group of workers will be made up, as far as possible, from residents of Southtown.
The event yesterday noon was marked by a community celebration in which representatives of more than a score of civic organizations throughout Southtown co-operated with the Englewood Business Men’s association, sponsor of the ceremonies for the ground breaking.

McDonnell Gives Talk

William McDonnell, publisher of the SOUTHTOWN ECONOMIST, gave the address of welcome at the celebration.
“The Balaban and Katz organization is to be congratulated for launching its building program at this time.” he said. “By actually starting construction work within four months after the site was acquired, the theatrical concern is furnishing a stimulus for a greater amount of building work in Southtown."
Barney Balaban, vice-president and general manager of the Balaban and Katz organization, explained to the gathering that his concern is doing everything possible to be of constructive worth to the Southtown district.
"Within the past 10 years our concern has spent approximately $10,000,000 in building operations in Chicago,” he said. “We believe that the Southtown area has been one of the greatest sources of patronage for our organization and we, at this time, are doing what we can to aid this territory by erecting this theater.”

Fish, Himmel Talk

Other speakers at the ceremonies were Leonard Fish, president of the Englewood Business Men’s association, Harry S. Himmel, president of the Englewood Commercial and Civic association, William D. Saltiel, city attorney representing Mayor Thompson, Alderman Walter W. Morris (18th), and Alderman James O. Coyle (17th).
Music for the ceremony was furnished by Frankie Masters, Balaban and Katz orchestra leader and his players, and the Tilden, Parker and Englewood high school bands.

Acme In Achievement

With a sum of approximately $2,500,000 involved in the huge undertaking, the new movie palace will hold the distinction of being the acme of the Balaban and Katz concern’s achievements in theater construction. The new building will have the reputation of occupying the largest theater site in the world. The ground, purchased last June for approximately $1,000,000, comprises approximately 154,000 square feet and is said to be four times larger than any other theater site.
The new theater, according to Balaban and Katz officials, was planned several months before the site was selected. It represents the ideal in theater construction of that concern, particularly in respect to sound, comfort, acoustics and stage accommodations.

To Seat 3,500

Special acoustic plastering, which has been proven effective, will be used for the walls and ceiling of the auditorium which will have a seating capacity of 3,500 persons.
The front of the new building will be featured with a grand entrance that will face 63rd st. and be designed in the effect of a great portal. It will be 70 feet wide and will extend as a wing away from the main structure to a distance of 60 feet.
Immediately adjacent to this and to the right will be a tower which is to be brilliantly lighted. The lobby or foyer of the structure will be one of the largest to be found anywhere in theater buildings. It will be known as the grand rotunda and will be 81 by 223 feet in size. This immense hall will be decorated with waterfalls, fountains, pools, garden features and retiring alcoves.
It will contain an indoor playground for children, which will be connected with an outdoor children’s playground 41 by 45 feet in size.
The new theater will contain every latest improvement of modern science for making perfect sound reception. To this end a special sounding board, said to be the latest development of the Western Electric company’s sound engineers, will be installed. No other theater in the country will boast of this newest feature.

RueNoir
RueNoir on June 17, 2010 at 11:05 am

My great uncle, Bill Studdert, was the manager of the Chicago Southtown Theater. He was a great guy — and really loved “showbiz” and the great theater palaces. (He was also manager of the Tivoli…) When the Southtown Theater swan pool display was removed he gave the wrought iron furniture — 2 chairs and 2 settees — that were displayed near the pool to his sister. I have the set now. Does anyone have a photograph of the swan pool that shows the wrought iron furniture? The set is now black but my aunt recalls that they were originally white. They are very heavy, ornate and have beautiful heart-shaped backs. Thanks!

CharlesZirino
CharlesZirino on May 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

Well there it seems like everyone is abandoning this site. the postings are getting fewer.But,not me. I so loved this theater and the memories of the neighborhood that I took a photo I had of the Southtown enlarged it and with a little camera work put myself and my old 29 Ford into the parking lot entrance. Now in my home it will never be forgoten!
Chuckie Z.

jwballer
jwballer on April 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

There a walgreens on every corner. Literally

jwballer
jwballer on March 30, 2010 at 4:38 pm

A 4/20 Wurlitzer Publix 1 was installed in the theatre after removal from the congress theatre.

CharlesZirino
CharlesZirino on March 15, 2010 at 9:53 am

Ah the30s,40s and 50s when a guy looked forward on the weekend to putting on his freshly starched shirt his suit and tie shined shoes and fedora Picked up his lady and went out for dinner at one of the many great restaurants and then off to the magical world of the cinema of which Chicago had many. But none surpassed the splendor and elegance of the Southtown theater made up of italian tile,plush carpets a well stocked pool of ducks swans fish and water falls in the lobby.Fabulous stairways plush seats well uniformed ushers and even a staffed nursery for the kiddies so you could enjoy the movies and live stage shows with a full orchestra in the pit all for a mere 25 cent admission.Shame on the city of Chicago for letting these fabulous places fall into disrepair and vanish to be replaced by no class cement structures they now call theaters where you are hearded like cattle and fleeced of your funds and expelled from them after the movie.To bad for the generation of today that does'nt know better!

GintGotham
GintGotham on November 28, 2009 at 12:41 am

In the spring of 1960, I helped pay tuition at the University of Illinois in Chicago by working for an inventory company. We would inventory stores prior to the accountants coming in to do their own inventory. It was sort of a security measure. We usually worked from around 10 p.m. on a Friday night until 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. When our crew chief drove us down to the Southtown Theatre, I thought we were going to have to inventory popcorn. What a surprise when I saw that this art-deco theatre was now a department store. The stoves and refrigerators were in the balcony, and I spent the entire night sitting on the floor of the orchestra counting boxes of paper clips and ball point pens. That’s the only time I was ever in the theatre, but as I sat on the floor, I kept staring at the ceiling and thought what a beautiful theatre it must have been at one time.

thedoberman
thedoberman on August 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Hay to all of you who lived on normal blvd and went to lewis chaplain school.I went to that grade school to 1952 then moved out here to phx az when i was 11 yrs old.I lived across from the hiram kelly library at 504 w 62nd st.I went and hung out at every movie theater in the neighbor hood and used to go down town on the el,or streetcar with only 50cents.AND still brought home change to my grandmother HOWS THAT.I used two build snow tunnels in the SOUTHTOWN parking lot.IM 69 yrs old my how time flys when ur having fun.thedoberman

cranshaw9
cranshaw9 on July 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

Involved in the installation for a community mural. 300 years of History, to depict one of the most oldest prominent communities in Chicago. Near the Historical Theater previous site along W 63rd.

In case possible, let’s establish collaboration.

Efforts in having the envisionment of the Historical Theater, incorporated into the mural.

Englewood
Englewood on February 14, 2009 at 3:04 pm

According to the Southtown Economist of Sun., Aug. 3, 1958, the Southtown Theater closed on Thursday, August 7, 1958. It’s final act as a theater was a double-bill which included “God’s Little Acre.”

George Rose, who grew up in Englewood and attended Englewood High School, signed a long-term lease with Balaban & Katz, with an option to buy.

Englewood
Englewood on November 21, 2008 at 1:19 pm

In the 1930s, the Theater Softball League was formed among the employees of the six theaters in Englewood: the Ace, Empress, Englewood, Linden, Stratford, and Southtown. They played on Saturdays and Sundays at Ogden Park. The Englewood and Linden teams were combined to form one team, while each of the others had their own team. The reason for this is unclear. It might have been because neither the Linden and Englewood had enough to fill a roster or because both theaters were owned by the same person. In 1938, the team from the Ace was favored for the title.

boilerbob7
boilerbob7 on September 16, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Hey Johncfd. When you explored the building, did you ever get into the tower? I often wondered what, if anything, was in it.

Burkesniece
Burkesniece on September 15, 2008 at 10:17 am

My mistake – “Escapade” was released in the US on July 7, 1935.

MGabel

Burkesniece
Burkesniece on September 15, 2008 at 9:50 am

Great info! I am researching the careers of the “Three Burke Sisters” (my aunts) who were in the “Bandbox Revue” one of the stage attractions – on the screen was “Escapade”. From their picture I am guessing 1932-34 range. The newspaper article I have is trimmed and without a date etc.

Is there a way to find out more on the stage attractions? I am doing the research for my aunts grandchildren and great grandchildren, so they will know how wonderful the Burke Sisters were!

Thanks,

MGabel

Laur87
Laur87 on June 5, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Ever since I can remember my grandparents have told me their wonderful memories of the Southtown. It’s such a shame that it doesn’t exist anymore. To the previous post, my Grandpa went to Tilden Tech and was also a fireman with the Chicago Fire Dept. His name was John Herman.