Congress Theater

The Congress Theater is a historic movie palace in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Fridstein and Company designed it in 1926 for the movie theater operator Lubliner and Trinz. It features ornate exterior and interior design work in a combination of the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Congress Theater
The Congress Theater in 2008
Address2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Coordinates41.92°N 87.69222°W / 41.92; -87.69222
OwnerNew Congress LLC
DesignationNational Landmark
Typemixed-use theater block
Current useClosed for renovation
Built1926 (1926)
Reopened(projected) 2019
Years active1926-2013
ArchitectFridstein & Company
DesignatedJuly 10, 2002
DesignatedJanuary 6, 2017

In its heyday, the Congress Theater could seat over 2,904 moviegoers. The theater block also had 17 retail storefronts with 56 apartments above. More recently, the theater operated as a 3,500-capacity live music venue.

For years the building was a common and popular concert venue. In April 2013, the theater was shut down and had its liquor license revoked due to numerous safety code violations.[1] It was a source of controversy due to issues such as liquor violations, a notoriously tough security team, and lax building upkeep.[2]

In early 2014, Carranza announced he would sell the theater to developer Michael Moyer.[2] Moyer plans to spend $65 million restoring the theater, with the goal of reopening the Congress in 2019.[3]

Notable events

  • The theater was designated a Chicago Landmark on July 10, 2002.[4]
  • In August 2008, pop punk band Paramore recorded a live CD/DVD titled The Final Riot! at the theater. It was released in November 2008 and it was awarded in US (Gold Album) and Canada (Platinum Album).
  • On March 31, 2009, VH1 Storytellers recorded a segment on blues band ZZ Top at the Congress Theater; the show aired June 27, 2009, on VH1 Classic.
  • As part of his 2012 New Year's Eve performance, producer/DJ Rusko shot the music video for hit single "Somebody to Love", released via Diplo's Mad Decent record label.[5]
  • On March 13, 2019, the Chicago City Council approved a redevelopment agreement for the Congress Theater with related construction of residential units on N Rockwell Street and Milwaukee Avenue. The developer intends to substantially rehabilitate the approximately 160,000 square foot Theater Property into a 4,900 seat music venue with the addition of an approximately 30-room boutique hotel; the addition of approximately 14 affordable residential rental units; and approximately 16,000 square feet of ground floor restaurant/retail commercial space. The agreement includes $8.85 million in tax-increment financing funds.[6]


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