Uptown Theatre News

Uptown Theatre News — August 30, 2006

News Update: Is the City Planning to Purchase the Uptown Theatre?

Reprinted with permission from the Uptown Adviser newsletter published by Friends of the Uptown.

“Chicago leaders may be taking additional steps to ensure a positive future for the UPTOWN THEATRE building, according to one item posted online in this tentative agenda of the city’s community development commission.

“The agenda would be to control the property by acquiring it and turning it over to a qualified owner-user who has a proven track record in large entertainment. As more parties have become involved in the ownership, including one corporation’s recent purchase of some of the building’s debt, there has been concern about making a smooth transition to a new owner if one of the current prospects comes through.

“Devoted observers will recall that more than $1.4 million in stabilization work has already been completed at the UPTOWN in the past 12 months. That represents more hard currency spent to safeguard the building than has ever been devoted—not counting almost 30 years now of volunteer work!”

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is the first step toward the restoration we’re all hoping to see happen! We’ll keep you posted as news develops, and let you know how the Commission meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th, turns out.

Award-Winning Documentary Now Available on DVD

Uptown: Portrait of a Palace

Uptown: Portrait of a Palace

A Film by John Pappas and Michael Bisberg

Progenitor of the largest U.S. movie palaces of the mid-to-late 1920s, the Uptown Theatre, Chicago, operated profitably and survived several shifts in entertainment and public taste before closing in 1981. Since then, the closed colossus has been one of the biggest mysteries of Chicago’s North Side. Though the Uptown is a popular favorite venue for generations of Chicagoans and a City landmark since 1991, it is increasingly threatened by its disuse and real-estate speculation.

The film explores the history of the Uptown Theatre and why the largest and one of the most elaborate theatres in the nation has been left vacant for 25 years. It uses interviews with eight sources close to the theatre and breathtaking footage from inside the rarely seen venue to invite the viewer to question what is really important in a society fueled by money and private interest.

Order Your Copy Now!

Uptown: Portrait of a Palace comes in an attractive, full-color DVD case with liner notes. Don’t miss your chance to own a copy of this award-winning documentary. To see the original theatrical trailer and purchase your copy, please visit the item detail page.

Uptown: Portrait of a Palace will also premiere on WTTW Chicago’s Image Union on October 6th at 10:30 p.m. Here’s their promo: “Two Northwestern filmmakers tell the story of the shuttered Uptown Theatre, named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1998. In exploring the landmark’s past and potential future, they take you on a breathtaking tour through one of the city’s most beautiful venues—unused and unavailable for Chicagoans. Meet members of the community working to open the theatre’s doors and change the face of the Uptown community.”

Portage Theatre.

Uptown: Portrait of a Palace premiered at the Portage Theatre at 4050 N. Milwaukee.

Public Premiere of Uptown Theatre Documentary a Success!

The public debut of the short documentary film Uptown: Portrait of a Palace was an overwhelming success. Approximately 500 people attended the event, which included two additional shorts and live theatre organ music. Proceeds benefitted the Portage Film Forum and Friends of the Uptown. Friends will use the funds to purchase a power washer to aid in removing graffiti from the exterior of the Uptown Theatre.

Uptown in Books and Movies

We’ve listed several more Uptown-related books in our non-fiction and fiction resources pages. We’re also pulling together a list of movies that take place or were filmed (at least in part) in Uptown. If you have a movie or book to recommend, e-mail us at editor@compassrose.org. Thanks to all those who’ve written in with suggestions—this site would not be possible without the active participation and support of community members.

Chronicling Uptown’s History

If you have any stories, images, or photos of Uptown’s past that you’d like to share, please drop us a line. We’d love your help recording our neighborhood’s roots. We’re interested in the history of Uptown’s people just as much as its historic architecture and entertainment history. Our e-mail address is editor@compassrose.org.

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