Uptown Chicago Resources

Historic Theatres & Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz

Historic Theatres of Balaban and Katz: Diversey / Century Theatre

The Century Theatre. Image courtesy HAARGIS.

The Diversey / Century Theatre — A Brief History

The Diversey Theater was constructed for the Orpheum circuit and opened on July 30th, 1925 at 2828 N. Clark Street, near the intersection of Diversey. Levy & Klein architect Edward Eichenbaum, who had come to Chicago in 1924 from Cleveland, designed the theatre. His other work with Levy & Klein includes the Granada, the Marbro, and the Regal.

The Diversey was designed in a Spanish Baroque style. An important stop on the vaudeville circuit, the Diversey was owned briefly by the Marks Brothers and later by Balaban and Katz. In the 1930s it was renamed the Century, in honor of the Century of Progress World’s Fair, and its interior was redesigned in an Art Deco style.

The Century closed in 1973 and, to the dismay of theatre fans, the interior was completely gutted to create the Century Shopping Centre. Much of the original terra cotta facade remains, although the wonderful glass windows have been replaced. Ironically, the upper levels of the mall hold a multi-screen theatre, added in 2000.

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