Crawford Theater

19 S. Pulaski Road,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Additional Info

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

Architects: William Gauger

Previous Names: National Theater

Nearby Theaters

CRAWFORD (NATIONAL) Theatre; Chicago, Illinois.

The Crawford Theater opened on March 14, 1914 in the Garfield Park neighborhood on Crawford Road (now Pulaski) at Madison Street, and at the time, was that neighborhood’s most lavish and largest movie house.

It supposedly cost over $150,000 to build. The Crawford Theater was originally operated by the West End Amusement Co. but was shortly thereafter taken over by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit.

It once contained a Weickhardt pipe organ and could seat almost 1,300.

After the opening of the huge Marbro and Paradise Theaters not far away in the late-1920’s, however, the Crawford Theater began to decline in popularity. The Crawford Theater was part of the Essaness chain during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Renamed the National Theater by the 1960’s, it was last screening Spanish-language and kung-fu films. The Crawford Theater continued to operate as least through the 1960’s before closing. The building no longer exists.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

BobbyS on November 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

Hi Scott..I Thought of you when I passed the MIDWAY theater in Rockford last week. What a facade! I passsed the Guyon a year ago and it was boarded up I remember. It seemed like something was happening and it just stopped. Maybe grants just dried up who knows. This was “our little world” way back in the 50’s. Madison/Crawford corner. It sure made an impression on alot of people for we still remember the Crawford, Paradise and Marbro with great fondness.

GFeret on November 13, 2013 at 9:38 am

the guyon is solidly boarded up, that it remains today may mean sopmething or it may mean nothing at all. it’s exterior color may’ve saved it so far, but my wife said it’s one of the 10 most endangered, and i can think of one or 2 others i marvel they still remain. we drove by it i think the same morning we drove by and took a last loving look at St. James Church which they just did demolish. and btw the brachs candy factory finally is being leveled.

i wonder can somebody tell me the exact location of the swimming pool for garfield park back then?

Scott on November 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

I don’t recall the St. James church, at least not by name. I’m sure I would recognize it though. I’ll have to Google that. I didn’t know the Brachs factory was still there. That had to have been empty for a very long time. I’d be surprised if the Guyon building ever comes to life again. A high density building in what is now a very low density neighborhood doesn’t make sense. Then again, it has hung on this long so who knows.

GFeret on November 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

the brachs factory—as decrepit as it was—actually served a post mortem purpose partially spruced-up in a recent batman movie filmed in chicago. besides that it had been penetrated by urban explorers, sometimes called ‘parkour’, my oldest son included. i’m glad they finally decided to reduce it to deserved rubble, but it just goes to show you how long—decades—something as useless as that could endure

Scott on November 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

Interesting. It’s nice to hear a little about what’s happening in Garfield Park. I looked up St. James church but don’t really remember it. Sad that it’s gone. It appears to have been a beautiful building, which I guess makes it a target in Chicago. Not sure of the exact location of the Garfield Park pool. I can probably figure it out from an old aerial map. Is that gone, too?

BobbyS on November 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Too bad the Marbro & Paradise Theaters were not just boarded up and still there waiting for a new generation to discover the wonders of those buildings. But I imagine B&K would be liable for break-ins & other things that might have gone on inside.

Scott on November 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

Bobby, unfortunately, even if they had somehow survived to this point, they would still be white elephants. There’s just no use for them in that location. The one neighborhood theatre that I thought could have made a go of it was the Granada. It had always been quite popular with the public. But Loyola had other ideas.

BobbyS on November 15, 2013 at 8:52 am

In so many cities across the states, plenty of these buildings stayed around for many years and found new uses. The west side theatres went down almost 60 years ago. When you think of Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Loews Theatres there all seeing new life. Chicago’s Uptown awaiting; Joliet & Aurora came to life; Rockford on the rise. This was a major destination in Chicago. I have no idea how property taxes might have influenced the decision to wreck. Couldn’t the city hold the deed like the King’s in NY? A mega church maybe? There is still life I would imagine around there. Probably a Starbucks or two. The Granada should have been saved as a jewel performance art centre. The time was right.

Broan on November 15, 2013 at 9:16 am

NYC tore down even more big theaters than Chicago did. There’s just a limit for what’s supportable. Setting aside property taxes, who would pay to maintain these buildings with no foreseeable future use for 50-60 years? If all the loop theaters were still there, it’s likely none of them would be profitable. There’s only so much market and some pruning is painful but ultimately necessary.

rivest266 on November 12, 2016 at 6:41 am

This opened on March 14th, 1914. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section for this theatre.

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