Sunday, August 12, 2012

St Augustine College: Everything Old Is New Again

The Tribune has an article about St. Augustine's plans to retrofit the college buildings so they look like they did when 1345 W Argyle was the home of Chicago's movie industry, one hundred years ago.  The process would include restoring the iconic terra cotta doorway, shown above; putting back front windows and staircases to match the building's original configuration; and turning the building that is now the school auditorium into a facility that would include performance space, a museum about early movie cinematography, and a cafe.
Fund-raising for the project begins in earnest on Oct. 6, when the school plans a gala event at the 1333 W. Argyle St. building, where party-goers are encouraged to dress up as Chaplin, Swanson or other Essanay actors. At that event, the Chicago-based architectural firm Johnson & Lasky will issue a 150-page historical structures report on the Essanay renovation plan, which will help college officials determine the ultimate expense for the project.

"It will be a significant cost outlay, probably in seven figures," said Sund, who added that it would take two to three years to finish the project after fund-raising is completed.

But it's a project that has full support from city officials because it goes hand-in-hand with the City Hall-endorsed plan to create an Uptown Entertainment District, centered around the long-awaited renovation of the long-shuttered Uptown Theatre. Owner Jam Productions hopes to fully renovate the Uptown by the end of 2015, provided they can raise that $70 million to maintain that historic venue.
The entire article is here, and is well worth reading. We would love to see this project happen.

UU Note:  Chicagoist has an article on the anniversary of the opening of Essanay Studios, with some fun photos of Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson, and a couple film clips of movies shot at Essanay.

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