Ramova Theatre

3518 S. Halsted Street,
Chicago, IL 60609

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Ramova Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Lasker & Sons

Architects: Myer O. Nathan

Functions: Concerts, Live Music Venue

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Renaissance

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 312.474.6572

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News About This Theater

Ramova Theater

Built adjacent to the Monogram Theatre (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

Located on S. Halstead Street at W. 35th Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood, the Ramova Theatre opened August 18, 1929 with John Boles in “The Desert Song”. It was equipped with a Western Electric sound system. It was a “sister” to the Music Box Theatre in Lake View, which was opened that same year. The architect of the Ramova Theatre was Meyer O. Nathan.

Like the smaller Music Box Theatre, which seats about half as many as the 1,500-seat Ramova Theatre, both were designed in Atmospheric style inside, their auditoriums built to resemble Spanish-courtyards. On the deep blue ceiling of the Ramova Theatre, “stars” glittered before each movie, and through the archways along the side walls were scenes of the Spanish countryside. Like the Music Box’s lobby, the blue sky with stars motif also continued into the ceiling. Faux-marble and gilded plasterwork were also in abundance, even more so than at the Music Box Theatre.

By the 1950’s, the Ramova Theater was no longer a first run house, but began to show second-run features.

The theatre was closed in April 1985 with Steve Guttenberg in “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment”, and has since sat vacant, but very much intact, a reminder of the neighborhood’s past and a viable and eminently restorable venue for Bridgeport’s future.

Now owned by the city, in April 2021 it was announced that a renovation of the theatre was planned to convert into a community arts center. There is a 200-seat small theatre space in the former balcony and the main floor serves as a 1,500-capacity concert & performance space. Costing $30 million, and with planning permission and a $6.64 million tax increment financing approved, restoration work commenced in October 2021. It had a reopening party on December 31, 2023 with an official reopening January 26, 2024. It also includes a Brewhouse and restaurant.

The Ramova Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 17, 1921.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 91 comments)

Ssc48 on November 27, 2023 at 11:03 pm


Ssc48 on November 27, 2023 at 11:03 pm

Reopening New years eye! Link is above

Trolleyguy on December 1, 2023 at 10:45 am

More on the involvement by the musical icons who are involved.Link

Broan on December 17, 2023 at 12:15 pm

The architect’s name is correctly spelled as “Myer O. Nathan”. He usually did business as M.O. Nathan. While he is not credited with any other theaters, he was chief draughtsman for Alexander Levy for several years prior to 1918.

The theater held its grand opening at 7:30 pm on August 18, 1929 with a community show featuring Lithuanian entertainment, the Chicago Little Symphony Orchestra, and the Vitaphone film “Desert Song”. The general grand opening followed on August 21. It appears that like other theaters opened in 1929, an organ was never installed, though chambers were built.

Broan on December 17, 2023 at 4:20 pm

Also, the Ramova was not built on the site of the Monogram, but next to it. So, it was in the unusual position of having three theater buildings in a row, with the Casino at the other end.

It was never run by Lasker & Sons. The building was built for local lithuanian businessman Jacob Maskolinuas while the theater was leased to Harry A. Reckas, a Greek real estate investor and theater man. Rackas later purchased the building out of foreclosure in 1934 and with his business partners John Semedalas and John Manta, the theater remained in the same independent ownership through at least 1962 if not beyond. This group also owned the Milda, Milo, Linden, and Wallace at different times.

While the Ramova is often called the twin or sister to the Music Box, it’s really more correct to call it a classmate. It had different ownership, a different architect, and a different capacity. It had similar exterior architecture and opened in the same week, also folllowing a sound films only policy.

Ssc48 on January 8, 2024 at 6:49 pm

Strange I remember seeing an organ I think there was one at one point.

Trolleyguy on January 27, 2024 at 10:07 am

Reopened Friday January 26 2024. Here’s an article

LouRugani on June 10, 2024 at 6:34 pm

The facade of the newly-reopened Ramova Grill was damaged in a massive June 10 crash where broken concrete and glass was strewn for two blocks. A northbound #8 CTA bus hit several vehicles along south Halsted Street near 35th Street. Six cars were smashed; five people were hospitalized; several street signs were flattened.

LouRugani on June 13, 2024 at 1:03 am

A speeding northbound CTA bus approaching the Halsted/ 35th Street intersection crossed into the southbound lanes, jumped the curb and rammed a doorway at the Ramova, breaking a piece of its ornamental arch. Co-owner Tyler Nevius said the Ramova will conduct business as normal as he ensures there’s no structural damage. The landmarks commission just approved a landmark designation for the Ramova, pending the expected city council approval in July. “It’s crazy,” Nevius said. “We’re given landmark status, and had a city bus run into us right after.” Last week, the Ramova was part of the city’s Blues Fest.

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