Avalon Regal Theater

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Avalon Regal Theater
New Regal (Avalon) Theater.jpg
Address1641 East 79th Street
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Coordinates41°45′05″N 87°35′01″W / 41.751352°N 87.583533°W / 41.751352; -87.583533
OwnerCommunity Capital Investment, LLC
OperatorChicago Regal Foundation 501(c)(3)
DesignationChicago Landmark
(June 17, 1992)
Type
  • Performing Arts Center
  • African American Cultural Center
Capacity2,250 seats
Construction
OpenedAugust 29, 1927[citation needed]
ClosedJune 26, 2003–August 2008
March 2010
Rebuilt1985 (renovated)[1]
Years active1927–1967
1970–1985
1987–2003
2008–2010
ArchitectJohn Eberson
Website
regaltheater.org

The Avalon Regal Theater (originally the Avalon Theater, and later the New Regal Theater) is a music hall located at 1641 East 79th Street, bordered by the Avalon Park and South Shore neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is a noted venue for African-American performers. The theater opened in August 1927.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Structure[edit]

Architecturally, the Avalon Regal's atmospheric Moorish Revivalist theme was conceived by Austrian-born architect John Eberson, who was nationally known for his exotic motifs. Legend has it that Eberson was inspired by an ornate Persian incense burner he found in an antique market in the French Quarter of New Orleans.[2]

Usage[edit]

An upper view of the lobby, looking toward the entrance of the theater

The theater opened as the Avalon Theater on August 29, 1927, when the community was known as Avalon Park, a then predominantly German, Swedish and Irish neighborhood. At the time of its opening, The theater served as a live-performing arts venue until 1934.[3] During the 1960s, more African Americans began to move into the area around the theater, transforming local culture while taking advantage of this historic gem for their unique musical and artistic ends.

The theater was later in business, only showing motion pictures from 1935 until its closing in 1967. When the theater was sold in 1970, It served as the Miracle Temple Church and a meeting place for 14 years. In 1985, The building was purchased by Edward and Bettiann Gardner, the founders of Soft Sheen Products. The Gardner's renovated and reopened the theater as a performing arts venue two years later.[1] At that time, the Gardners renamed the theater The New Regal Theater. The name was in honor of the old Regal Theater[4] in Bronzeville, a celebrated cultural center for Chicago's African American community beginning in the 1920s. The old Regal Theater, located at 4719 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive caught fire in September 1971[citation needed] was later demolished in 1973. In May 1987, the theater received a $1 million dollar grant for renovations from Illinois Development Action Grant program under mayor Harold Washington administration. The grant was part of a financial package totaling $4.1 million.[5] The theater received Chicago Landmark status on June 17, 1992.[6] After 18 years, the Gardner's closed the theater due to low-attendance and operational cost of the building in June 2003.[citation needed]

A view of the stage from the second tier.

The theater was later purchased by Regina Evans, Country Club Hills, Illinois police chief in 2008 with the help of state fund of $2.36 million dollars with the hope of reviving it as a cultural venue.[7] Evans secured a state loan for $1.25 million dollars for renovations to the theater but Evans used the funds for personal use.[8][9] The site did hold a party to celebrate Barack Obama's presidential nomination acceptance speech in August 2008.[10] The theater was foreclosed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. acquired the theater in 2011. It was later sold to Community Capital Investment, LLC. Jerald Gary, president and chief investment officer of Community Capital Investment Partners, LLC purchased the theater for $100,000 in a foreclosure deal in 2010[11] or February 2014.[8][12] In September 2018, Rapper and Chicago native Kanye West committed to help restore the theater, pledging to donate $1 million dollars.[13][14]

Chicago Regal and Architecture Foundation[edit]

The Chicago Regal Foundation 501(c)(3) was created to raise funds needed to reopen and operate it [15] The Foundation plans to recreate pivotal moments in entertainment history using holographic stage technology.[16] The theater regularly participates in the Chicago Architecture Foundation's yearly event, Open House Chicago.[17] This annual opportunity allows visitors to tour the interior of the building for free.[18]

Notable performers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "New Regal Theatre in Chicago, IL". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  2. ^ Mark Konkol. "No man is an Island - Hop off the Dan Ryan for a compelling journey through a hood that's authentic Chicago". Chicago Sun-Times. November 9, 2007. p. 12.
  3. ^ Chicago Sun-times - Kanye West joins effort to revive shuttered Avalon Regal Theater - September 11, 2018
  4. ^ "UMKC". www.umkc.edu. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Explore Chicago Collections - Mayor Washington at the New Regal Theater opening
  6. ^ New Regal Theater Archived August 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division (2003). Retrieved on August 21, 2007.
  7. ^ David Roeder and Fran Spielman. "Regal rebirth - The old Avalon Theatre is taking on new life as investors close a $2.36 million deal for the South Side icon". Chicago Sun-Times. March 14, 2008. pg. 54.
  8. ^ a b Crains Chicago Business - He's no Roc-a-Fella, but this J has Regal plans - March 18, 2014 - SHIA KAPOS
  9. ^ David Roeder and Fran Spielman. "Curtains for New Regal? Archived October 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine" Chicago Sun-Times. October 2, 2009. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  10. ^ Chicagoans Celebrate Obama's Nomination Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. CBS 2 Chicago. August 28, 2008. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  11. ^ Chicago Sun times - EDITORIAL: Kanye’s right. Restoring the Avalon Regal Theater a cause worth championing - September 14, 2018
  12. ^ Style Magazine - Jerald Gary, 30, Buys Historic Regal Theater in Chicago to Restore and Use with Art Non-Profits Style Magazine Newswire - 7/20/2016
  13. ^ WGN News (Chicago, IL) Kanye West committing $1 million to restore Avalon Regal Theater, owner says - February 2019
  14. ^ The Real Deal - Kanye West donating $1M to restoration of historic South Side theater (The Avalon Regal Theater in South Shore, a 1920s-era movie palace, has been closed since 2003) - March 02, 2019
  15. ^ Kapos, Shia (March 10, 2014). "Rumors aside, new owner of Chicago's New Regal Theater has big plans". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  16. ^ "Hologram Concerts of Dead Legends Could Be Next Life for New Regal Theater". DNAinfo Chicago. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 22, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]