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The Ramova Theatre

November 8, 2012

The Ramova Theatre auditorium.

The Ramova Theatre opened on August 21, 1929 in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The 1,500 seat theater was designed by architect Meyer O. Nathan in the Spanish Revival style. An atmospheric theater, the ceiling was painted blue to resemble the night sky. A contest was held to name the theater while it was being built, and the winner named it after the Lithuanian word for “peaceful place.”

The theater’s atmospheric motif started in the lobby.

The theater opened with a showing of the movie “The Desert Song” starring John Boles, Louise Fazenda and Myrna Loy. In 1940, the Charlie Chaplin film “The Great Dictator” premiered at the Ramova and its sister theater the Music Box. The film was kept out of the larger downtown theaters because of its controversial nature. The Ramova stopped showing first-run films in the 1950s. The theater closed in 1986 due to declining ticket sales. The city of Chicago took ownership of the building in 2001.

The back hallway of the theater has been badly damaged over the years.

Save the Ramova, an organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the theater, was founded by longtime Bridgeport resident Maureen Sullivan in 2005. Save the Ramova has teamed up with the Illinois Institute of Technology to develop a business plan to renovate the theater. In late 2012, the city of Chicago began work on stabilizing the facade of the Ramova.

View of the auditorium from the stage.

Semicircular arcades were a very common feature in Spanish Revival architecture.

A closer look at the top of the lobby.

The right side wall of the auditorium.

A close-up of plaster work.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Moe permalink
    November 9, 2012 10:03 am

    The city of Chicago under Rahm’s leadership has returned to the ways of the daley administration. The ONLY thing Rahm focuses on is making money for the rich and helping out big businesses. The people of Chicago gave Rahm a fair chance to correct the cities wrongs but unfortunately, it’s business as usual. People are now leaving the city again because the only focus is the Loop. Between the red tape, excessive taxes, fees and ongoing corruption, it doesn’t pay to invest this heavily in Chicago.

    Maybe Bank of American will buy it and change the name to Bank of America Theater. Chicago ONLY works for big businesses.

  2. November 23, 2012 8:57 am

    I’ve been going back to your blog off and on for a while, I love the photography!

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  1. Sullivan Kicks Off Campaign In Front Of Ramova Theater - Sullivan For Alderman - Maureen F. Sullivan For 11th Ward Alderman

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