Chicago Real Estate Search Chicago Real Estate Chicago Real Estate Chicago Neighborhoods Downtown Chicago Condos Weekly Email Subscription
Welcome to Chicago Homes for Sale by Dean's Team Sign in | Help

Most Complete Chicago Real Estate Blog! Daily Updates on Chicago Homes for Sale and Real Estate . . . Great Chicago Neighborhoods . . . Living in Chicagoland . . . Your Comments Welcome!



  • Real Estate Blog


THE UPTOWN THEATRE, CHICAGO - Long-Shuttered North-Side Movie Palace - On The Auction Block Today!


Uptown Theatre Chicago - Undated 1980's Photo -

Those 1920's movie palaces that used to be commonplace across Chicago - most are long gone!  Those few that survive - The Chicago on State Street, The Oriental on Randolph,  and The Schubert (originally The Majestic, and currently the Bank of America Theatre) on Monroe Street.  They speak to a bygone age when going to the movies - usually, one headline movie - was a destination event, a family happening.

Of course, times have changed.  We get our movies today on DVD Blu Ray Disc.  On Demand.  Or, if you do go out, to a 20-screen multiplex with little character or history.

Throughout the years, The Uptown Theatre in Chicago, about 5.5 miles north of Downtown Chicago and The Loop, in the Uptown Neighborhood in the North Side of Chicago has been a bit of an enigma. 

Opened with much fanfare in August, 1925, the theatre originially had a 134 person staff, a full-time orchestra, and themed stage shows to accompany the major motion picture showing at the theatre at any particular time.

It became just a movie theatre in the 1950's and 1960's - with dwindling attendance as the surrounding neighborhood began to wear around the edges.  In the 1970's, it was home to major rock concerts - the place was designed for great acoustics, and sat over 4,300 in its ultra-spacious 46,000 square foot confines.  We saw Bruce Springsteen perform there, early in his career.

The theatre has been shuttered since 1981, although a couple of movies have been shot in its still-palatial lobby.  But the interior erodes away, pipes burst some years ago in the cold winter (although some heat has been restored to the building) and lack of upkeep have taken their toll.

The building is a Chicago Historic Landmark - it can not be torn down or radically altered.

Over the years, the building has gone through several ownership changes, and its current ownership, in trust, is somewhat cloudy.  Several restoration efforts have stalled - many are concerned the theatre's distance from the Downtown Chicago Theatre District would keep any major renovation effort from paying out in terms of subsequent attendance at shows.

But today, The Uptown, at 4814 N. Broadway, is on the foreclosure auction block again, through The Judicial Sales Corporation.  The auction will be held today, at the Cook County Building Downtown. 

How much will it sell for?  No one really knows.  There is no real comparable property data for a massive building such as The Uptown.  Similar historic buildings across the country have sold for between $1, and several million, depending on the involvement of local government and civic booster groups.

The most likely buyer is music promoter JAM Productions headed by Jerry Mickelson.  JAM was the promoter who sponsored many of the 1970's rock shows at The Uptown, and its most likely use, if restored, wll be a music and theatre venue once again, rather than an old-fashioned movie house.  (Ed. Update:  Indeed, JAM Productions had the successful bid for The Uptown, for $3.2 Million, on Tuesday, July 29th.  They will seek funds from public and private sources to restore the theatre).

The big question, however - how will this company, or any company, raise the necessary capital to properly renovate this North Side Chicago Landmark Theatre?   And, once renovated - can it operate profitably?

Let's hope so - this place is a classic!

For more info, read The Theater Loop Blog, by Chris Jones, in yesterday's Chicago Tribune.  Undated 1980's B & W Photo courtesy of the City of Chicago Official Website -


Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 7:30 AM by Dean's Team


No Comments

Anonymous comments are disabled