Highland Theater

7859 S. Ashland Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60620

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Ascher Brothers Inc., Brotman & Sherman Theaters, Stanley-Warner Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Henry L. Newhouse

Firms: Newhouse & Bernham

Functions: Church, Performing Arts

Nearby Theaters

News About This Theater

Highland Theater

Opened on May 15, 1926 with Janet Gaynor in “The Shamrock Handicap” plus artistes on the stage. The Highland Theater, located in Chicago’s predominantly African-American South Side, was designed for the Ascher Brothers circuit by the firm of Newhouse & Bernham. This local architectural firm also designed the last of several versions of the McVickers Theatre in the Loop.

Like that theater, the much-larger Highland Theater, which could seat 2,043 and featured extensive terra-cotta decoration on its facades. One entrance, the main entrance, was on Ashland Avenue, the other, on 79th Street. The theater also had a towering vertical marquee which was lit up with hundreds of lightbulbs and could be seen for blocks. The Highland Theater was equipped with a Barton 4 manual 21 ranks organ.

Both vaudeville and motion pictures were on the program at the Highland Theater for its first couple decades of operation, even after the theater was acquired by Warner Brothers in the 1930’s. However, by the 1950’s, it switched to movies-only.

The Highland Theater closed as a movie house more than three decades ago, but it was later converted into a church and conference center, a role it continues to serve today on Sundays named the AFC Center.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Cam on July 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm

A pic of the lobby, taken in 1992, is here:


At the time, it was a church, and was well-maintained. I think I have a pic of the auditorium; I’ll try to post it if anyone is interested.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Would love to see it Cam. I’ve always wondered what the inside of this place looked like.

Cam on August 6, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Hi LTS — here’s a page with a couple of (medicocre) pics of the auditorium:


Sorry for the delay in posting these. Turns out that I had never bothered to print either of the photos from the auditorium, so I had to find the original negative, and scan that.

By the way… I’ve read many of your comments here over the past few years, and would love to ask you a few questions offline. If you wouldn’t mind that, feel free to email me sometime: cambodia at aol.com.

xine67 on October 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

HELP! What was the name of the now-demolished theater that once stood on the 7900 block of S. Ashland. It was on the east side of the street, just a block or so south of the intersection. It was torn down in the late 1980s, and was in a deplorable state by that time. I can’t recall the name & it’s driving me crazy.

spectrum on November 13, 2010 at 12:04 am

This is currently the Ambassadors for Christ Church. They have done a beautiful restoration of the building both inside and outside. All the original features retained!

rivest266 on June 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Grand opening ad in the photo section for this theatre.

Ssc48 on October 15, 2022 at 11:49 am

This theatre is open

Ssc48 on October 15, 2022 at 11:50 am

A performing arts center and used as a church on Sundays. It’s called the AFC center now. Status should be open!

DavidZornig on October 15, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Facebook page for The AFC Center.


You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.