Portage Theatre

4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: ABC Theatres, Ascher Brothers Inc., Balaban & Katz Corp., Fox Theatres (Reading, PA), M & R Theatres

Architects: Mark D. Kalischer, Henry L. Newhouse

Styles: Neo-Classical, Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Portage Park Theatre

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News About This Theater

Portage Theater

Opened December 11, 1920 with Jack Pickford in “Just Out of College”. The Portage Park Theatre (the former name is still inscribed over the Neo-Classical style facade), was the first theatre built specifically for movies (and not vaudeville shows) in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. The theatre was built for the Ascher Brothers circuit and originally could seat nearly 2,000. By 1929 it was operated by Fox Chicago.

The Portage Theatre remained a popular fixture of the neighborhood for decades, becoming a second-run movie house in the 1960’s. In the 1980’s, its auditorium was divided in two by putting a wall down the middle of the auditorium.

Oddly, after the box office stopped being used, tickets were then sold in the lobby off a table and folding chairs set up school bake sale style.

The Portage Theatre was shuttered in 2001 after operating sporadically for the previous couple years. The theatre was restorated and renovated, and reopened in the spring of 2006 as a single-screen, 1,300-plus seat theatre featuring both silent and sound classic motion pictures and other events, both on-screen and live.

It was closed on May 25, 2013, and reopened in June 2014. It was closed in February 2018.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 208 comments)

DavidZornig on January 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Rear or side entrance appears several times in this film beginning at the 59:17 mark.


Broan on January 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Try http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/17506 for those, david

DavidZornig on January 8, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Ah thanks, will do.

DavidZornig on December 12, 2017 at 3:31 am

It appears they will be closing in February 2018.


Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on August 1, 2018 at 12:34 am

Anything new happening at the theater?

DavidZornig on August 1, 2018 at 1:13 am

Not as I can see. Their website just reads “Coming Soon” on a black screen, and their Facebook page has been inactive since May when it was advertising the Patio Theatre’s events.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on October 29, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Advertised as part of Fox Chicago Theatres in 1929 newspaper ad displayed here

Mister_Comics on October 31, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Just added the 1929 newspaper ad to the “Photo” section. Thanks for the info.

Khnemu on December 31, 2019 at 4:51 pm

Added new picture in picture section showing ghost sign on the rear wall of the theater building from the alley.

LouRugani on December 12, 2020 at 5:57 am

Today is its Centennial birthday.

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