Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Uptown Theatre on "Most Endangered" Historic Places List

From Chicago's Real Estate Daily:

"The long-shuttered Uptown Theatre has landed on Landmarks Illinois’ top 10 list of endangered historic places. The North Side theater at 4816 N. Broadway makes the list for the third time; it was previously listed in 1996 and 2001, according to the historic preservation group, which announced its annual list Tuesday. Landmarks Illinois says the "economic climate" had made it difficult for the theater’s new owners, a group led by Jerry Mickelson of Jam Productions, to get the $40 million required for a restoration."

Also see the Tribune for a stunning photo of the theatre's lobby.  Breathtaking!

Photo from Balaban & Katz Historical Foundation website.


  1. What has Jam Enterntainment's efforts been to raise money to restore the Uptown Theatre? I have not seen or heard about anything asking for public contributions (I know there are a lot of people that would donate money to see this gem restored). Why are our local alderman not using TIF money to help with restoration? I would think this would be a prime example of a good use of TIF money. Getting this theatre restored and open would bring in a ton of business to Uptown and maybe just maybe provide jobs?! Imagine that.

  2. I remember going there for their Christmas shows in the 60s as well as seeing such blockbuster movies such as “Soul to Soul” with Tina Turner and Kung Fu with Bruce Lee in the early 70s.
    It was quite the opulent place. I believe the bathrooms were in the basement and you had to go down a lot of stairs.

    I also remember going to concerts there in the late 70s and early eighties(Frank Zappa, Foreigner, Super Tramp and Springsteen etc.)
    Marty Kehoe and I would get in by working with the beer concession guy who Marty knew. Easy way to get in a concert for free……..

  3. It's time to either restore it or tear it down.

  4. I was wondering when someone was going to say the "Well, they oughta go ahead and tear that thing down" thing. Demolishing the Uptown would also be a costly undertaking. And at this moment, no one has the resources or interest to do that. If it were vacant land, would we want another condo slum or sub-urban retail strip? The answer is no. Broadway and Lawrence is a business and entertainment district. Venues survive in tandem with each other and with other amusements, shopping and dining. The large size of the building and the measure of rehab needed make it a difficult and longterm project. I am personally glad that neighbors, the alderman and city leadership are in for the long haul. It will be worth it in the end.

  5. I've been writing a blog on The Uptown Theater and what's going on with it right now. Find it here:

    I talked to Jam last month about it.