The Avalon Theatre opened on August 29, 1927 in Chicago, IL. The 2,250 seat theater was designed by noted theater architect John Eberson, who is also known for the Loew’s 46th Street Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. The design of the interior was inspired by a Persian incense burner Eberson found while shopping in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
An atmospheric theater, the auditorium ceiling was a replica of the night sky complete with small lights as stars. The south wall of the auditorium was modeled after a garden with arches at the base, a reflecting pool and stuffed flamingos. The other side was designed to resemble a Persian palace with a dome and minarets.
The opening acts were a musical presentation called Dreams of Araby performed by Buddy Fisher, and Soft Cushions, a silent film starring Douglas MacLean. A fountain in the auditorium originally operated during performances, but it was discontinued when it seemed to cause people to use the bathroom more frequently. The Avalon discontinued live performances in the 1930s and switched to showing only motion pictures until 1970 when the theater was sold.
The theater was used as a meeting hall and later as a church until it was purchased by Edward and Bettiann Gardner in 1985. The Gardners renovated the Avalon and renamed it the New Regal Theatre after the original Regal Theatre which was demolished after a fire in 1973. It reopened as a performing arts center in 1987. The Regal Theatre was named a Chicago landmark in June 1992. 16 years after it reopened, the theater closed again due to low attendance.
In 2008, the New Regal was purchased by the Prime Time Group, Inc. The Prime Time Group made some upgrades to the building and began to hold events at the theater. One such event was a presidential election night celebration on November 4, 2008. Not all the required repairs were begun in time, and PTG was fined by the city. PTG declared bankruptcy, and the theater was purchased by the FDIC in a foreclosure sale.