5825 W. Division Street,
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Previously operated by: Ascher Brothers Inc.
Architects: Harold E. Gallup
Firms: Gallup and Joy
Previous Names: Ambassador Theatre
The Ambassador Theatre was built for the M & H Theaters Corporation in 1924 by architect Harold E. Gallup serving the far western Chicago neighborhood of Austin. It was opened on October 20, 1925. It was equipped with a Geneva 4 manual 14 ranks organ. By 1926 it had been taken over by the Ascher Brothers Inc. chain.
It could seat 2,500 in its auditorium and originally hosted stage shows in addition to motion pictures. It was built in the Neo-Classical style and featured a domed lobby which was topped by a cupola.
Its marquee was V-shaped, and had signage on both W. Division Street and N. Monitor Avenue. Over the marquee were four large arched windows. Terra-cotta decoration covered much of the façade, which was of pale colored brick.
After the death of Knute Rockne in a plane crash in 1931, the Ambassador Theatre was renamed the Rockne Theatre in his honor (similar to Chicago’s Will Rogers Theatre at W. Belmont Avenue and N. Central Avenue being named for the cowboy star after his own death in a plane crash).
The Rockne Theatre was showing adult films by the 1970’s. After its days as a movie house ended in the very early-1980’s, the Rockne Theatre began a new life as the New Inspirational Missionary Church, which it still serves as today.
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