Uptown Chicago Resources

Historic Theatres & Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz

Historic Theatres of Balaban and Katz: Belmont Theatre

Group portrait of four young women sitting in a car in front of the Belmont Theater in Chicago, Illinois, 1927. Image courtesy Library of Congress, DN-0083177, Chicago Daily News collection. Click on image for larger view.

Historic Theatres of Balaban and Katz: Belmont Theatre

A mid-seventies view of the theatre when it housed Belmont Bowl. Image courtesy of HAARGIS.

The Belmont Theatre — A Brief History

Opened in 1925 by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit, which also built the Harding, the Belmont was one of the most popular and, at 3200 seats, certainly one of the largest movie palaces located on the North Side. It was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager, the creative genius behind the Broadway Building and the Sheridan Plaza Hotel in Uptown, Chicago, and the Roxy Theatre in New York. The theatre was located at 1635 W. Belmont in the heart of the Lincoln-Belmont retail and entertainment district, an area made popular by its convenient access to public transportation. It became part of the Orpheum circuit in the late 1920s and in 1930 was acquired by Balaban & Katz.

When theatre attendance began to decline in the 1960s, the movie palace was converted into a bowling alley and roller rink. It eventually closed in the mid-eighties.

In 1996, the theatre was mostly demolished and a mixed retail complex and condo project, Cinema Lofts Condominiums, was constructed in its place. As with the Century, the ornate terra cotta facade was incorporated into the new building.

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