Byrd Theatre

4740 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60644

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Essaness Theaters Corp., Lubliner & Trinz

Previous Names: Madison Square Theatre, Pepe Theatre

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Newspaper ad from Aug. 15, 1945 Chicago Herald-American showing what was playing at the Byrd Theatre

The Madison Square Theatre was opened by the West End Amusement Co. on November 7, 1917. Located on W. Madison Street between S. Cicero Avenue and S. Kilpatrick Avenue, near where the neighborhoods of West Garfield Park and Austin meet. It was taken over by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit later in 1917 and they installed a 2 manual Wangerin organ. The Madison Square Theatre had no balcony or stage, but the building’s 5,000 square foot space, however, did contain a ballroom, which was located above the lobby. It also later had a Style D 2 manual 6 ranks Wurlitzer organ.

The theatre briefly closed during the 1920’s and reopened on August 29, 1930 as the Byrd Theatre, which operated until it closed in 1969. In its last years it was renamed Pepe Theatre and screened Spanish-language films. The building was later used as a church, but has since been demolished. The site of the block that the Byrd Theatre was on, is today a large vacant lot.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

KenC on January 9, 2008 at 1:43 am

The Byrd was open as late as July 1967. From the Chicago Sun Times on Saturday, July 1, 1967: BYRD OPEN 1:30 – “THE PAD” “VALLEY OF MYSTERY”.

LouisRugani on January 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm

When the city’s drive on license violators hit theaters last week, seven West Side movie houses made quick amends in their admission prices. In view of speedy corrections of the violations, Judge Cecil Smith discharged the cases.
Theaters affected and their maximum prices were: Tiffin, 4045 North, 40 cents; West End, 121 N. Cicero, 40 cents; Byrd, 4730 Madison, 40 cents; Symphony, 4921 Chicago, 40 cents; Crawford, 19 S. Crawford, 40 cents; K and C, 306 S, Cicero, 25 cents; and the Plaisance, 466 N. Parkside, 40 cents.

amoswald on February 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I saw The Jolson Story, Jolson Sings Again, Singing in the Rain, and Wizard of Oz at the Byrd. They showed a lot of films that were in rerelease.

BobbyS on February 6, 2011 at 2:40 am

Hi Anita! I remember seeing the horror film “Them” at the Byrd. The theater was full of kids and it was a blast on Saturdays. Usually double bills and drive-in type of movies. I have been afraid of ants ever since! I thought I saw “King Kong” there on a re-re-release or it could have been the State. Went to every movie theater on Madison St. all the time sometimes two in a day via the streetcar lines. I loved all the candy :Milk Duds. Halloway bars and of course the real butter popcorn…..Um-m-m-m-m.

BobbyS on February 6, 2011 at 2:54 am

The Bryd was renamed “PEPE” in the last years. They just put the letters over the BRYD name and showed Spanish films. I was long gone by then, but I do have a picture with the PEPE name. I wish I knew how to post a picture on this page. The Bryd was a fun place to see all your friends and scream together for the horror flicks..

LouRugani on December 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

On November 7, 1917 the MADISON SQUARE Theatre opened, seating 2,000 people and owned by the West End Amusement Company, which also controled the Virginia and Crawford Theaters. The West End Amusement Company was formed by William E. Heaney (vice-president of the Illinois Branch of MPEL of America and manager of the Virginia and Crawford theaters), his father James B. Heaney, J. D. Murphy, and H. A., Paul A. and John Arm- strong. There was a $6,000 Wangerin & Weickhardt pipe organ. Admissions were 10 and 15 cents including the war tax.

jtmiller on May 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Remember watching many films at the Byrd in the late 1940s to 1961, when our family moved. Saw Disney’s “Peter Pan” there in 1952, when I was 9 years old.

BobbyS on December 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

The San Fillippo Foundation in Barrington, Il. purchased the decal recently that was located above the marquee of the Byrd theater. They placed it above the stage and displayed it at their annual Christmas party/show… I could not make it out for I was sitting in the balcony. Does anyone remember it? I did not. I was always too busy reading the marquee. It was large. Next time I go, I will make a point to study it. It wasn’t Admiral Byrd.

rivest266 on August 8, 2020 at 2:37 pm

The Madison Square theatre opened on November 7th, 1917 and by the end of 1917 it became part of the L & T chain. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on March 12, 2022 at 9:53 am

August 29th, 1930, grand reopening ad posted.

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