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News About This Theater
- Jun 14, 2012 — Portage fate to be determined
The Belpark Theatre opened on March 13, 1927 with 5 acts of vaudeville and on the screen the short subject “The Perch of the Devil” starring Mae Busch. It was part of the Lubliner & Trinz circuit. It was located on N. Cicero Avenue near W. Belmont Avenue in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.
This 2,000-plus seat theatre was designed by E.P. Steinberg and once contained a 3/17 Barton theatre organ which was opened by organist Bill Bennett. In spring of 1930, the Belpark Theatre was taken over by the Balaban & Katz chain, which operated it for the remainder of its career as a movie house.
The Belpark Theatre closed as a movie theatre in the mid-1950’s and after periods of use as a warehouse and later, a banquet facility, the building became a bingo hall, which was closed around 2014. It was converted into the Chicago Tabernacle church which opened March 15, 2015.
Recent comments (view all 52 comments)
Drove by today and saw the red & white Public Notice on the door. Then saw a post on the Chicago Theatre Preservation Alliance Facebook page, that included the below link. The BelPark will be the new home of Chicago Tabernacle. The same folks who originally wanted the Portage Theatre. So good news all around, with both now being saved.
the bel park yesterday had practically all traces of ‘golden tiara’ (bingo) removed, including the doorway canopy, and front doors boarded-up. definitely looks like re-construction going on inside (contractor sign was attached)
tomorrow mar 15 this place (what was the BelPark theatre) re-opens as www.chicagotabernacle.org
a modest canopy hangs over the front entrance on Cicero ave stating ‘Chicago Tabernacle CT’, in place of what once many years ago was the BelPark theatre marquee.
I don’t exactly know but I’d hazard a good guess the newest renovation here utilizes what the old theatre had to offer inside, much much better than the previous Golden Tiara seniors bingo hall had done
I added one photo as Chicago Tabernacle, March 2015. I’ll get another some Sunday when there is no parking directly in front.
It looks like they did a nice job. Before: http://chicagopatterns.com/belpark-theater-a-chicago-movie-palace-revealed/
Construction videos: Video 1: https://vimeo.com/111057220 Video 2: https://vimeo.com/115832228 Video 3: https://vimeo.com/119613402
They seem to have preserved and exposed most of what remained, and walled over the rest. They partitioned off the rear part of the auditorium into classroom-type space. I’m sure they intend to dismantle that and move those functions to storefront spaces as their congregation grows. The one odd thing I noticed in the video was that the lunettes at the top of each archway in the theatre were removed for some reason.
That’s quite a fundraising drive they pulled together.
I’ve been wondering what would happen to the Belpark. It’s been Golden Tiara for so long, it just seemed like the average run of a Chicago business meant change was coming.
I found two pics in my phone from 2014. Interior elements leaving being hauled away on a truck. Not the best pics, but both are in the Photos section.
It’s a shame the interior made it so many years only to get dumbed down. I wonder if some Urban Remains-type place bought those plaster pieces. If they got hauled away whole it would seem to be a possibility.
I remember seeing construction pictures where those tops of the exit arches were all that was left.
The Belpark Theatre opened on March 13, 1927 with 5 acts of vaudeville and on the screen the short subject “The Perch of the Devil” starring Mae Bu…
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