Harper Theater

5238 S. Harper Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60615

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Main Street Theaters (Official)

Additional Info

Operated by: Main Street Theatres

Previously operated by: Kohlberg Theaters, Loews, Meridian Theatres, M & R Theatres, Schoenstadt, Sony Theatres

Architects: Mark D. Kalischer, Z. E. Smith, Horatio R. Wilson

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Prairie School, Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Hyde Park 2, Hyde Park Theaters, Meridian Theater

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 773.966.5091

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News About This Theater

1994 photo credit Mike Tuggle.

The Harper Theater was built in 1914, but due to a legal dispute it didn’t open until May 24, 1915. This 1,201-seat theater was designed by architects Z. E. Smith and Horatio R. Wilson. It once contained a Kimball organ. In April 1930 it became part of the Schoenstadt circuit. In the late-1930’s it was remodeled by architect Mark D. Kalischer in a Streamline Moderne style.

On December 25, 1970 it became the Hyde Park 2 still a single screen) and still later was increased to four screens. After Schoenstadt, the theater was operated by Kohlberg Theatres, M & R Theatres(from May 24, 1985), Sony Theatres (Loews) in 1989, and finally the Meridian chain. The Hyde Park Theatres closed in spring of 2002.

The theater was renovated in 2011-2012 and reopened on January 18, 2013 under its original Harper Theater name. It still has four screens, but has been completely renovated inside, as well as given a new marquee and vertical sign. The theatre is owned by the University of Chicago, and was operated by the New 400 Theaters, which also managed the New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park. The reopening of the Harper Theater brought movies back to the Hyde Park area for the first time in over a decade. It was closed on November 30, 2022 after being sold to Main Street Theatres who began refurbishment and it reopened on May 23, 2023.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 52 comments)

moax429 on July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

Does a train line run close to this theater?

If so, I remember my dad (may he rest in peace) and I would pass by it on the train when the theater was the Hyde Park in the summer of 1979. (I was working at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago with my dad that year; that was my first real job as I was 17 then.)

I remember the marquee had comedy and tragedy masks adorning it and before I began my senior year of high school in late August of that year, the Hyde Park was playing the original Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, along with some vintage Tom and Jerry cartoon shorts for the kids. (I saw Star Wars again at the now-demolished Diana in Homewood. To be sure, it had me longing for when I first saw it with my cousin in Pennsylvania two years before, as well as the better times I had in Lansing, Michigan during 1977.)

rivest266 on November 12, 2016 at 10:43 pm

The first ad as Hyde Park from December 30th, 1933 can be found in the photo section.

rivest266 on November 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm

2 screens on December 25th, 1970. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 23, 2018 at 4:31 am

No. No. No. The Harper Theatre at 5238 S. Harper was NEVER twinned in 1970. It was renamed Hyde Park 2. The original Hyde Park Theatre at 53rd & Lake Park was renamed Hyde Park 1. Two separate Hyde Park theatres at two different locations. After Hyde Park 1 closed its doors permanently, Hyde Park 2 became simply the Hyde Park Theatre and stayed that way until it reopened in 2013 and became the Harper again.

DavidZornig on May 25, 2022 at 1:18 am

May 24th, 1985 grand re-opening ad as a 3 screen as M&R Hyde Park added via James Stegall.

50sSNIPES on July 21, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Taken over by Loews in 1989.

rivest266 on December 19, 2022 at 8:10 pm

Reopening in 2023 by Main Street theatres from Omaha.


“The U. of C.’s office of Commercial Real Estate Operations finalized plans with their new vendor, Main Street Theatres, on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

A small movie theater chain based in Omaha, Neb., Main Street Theatres operates five movie theaters across Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.

According to Michael Barstow, Main Street Theatres’ executive vice president and a Chicago resident, the company will move into Harper Theater on Dec. 1 to begin renovations and other upgrades throughout the building.

The company, which is family-owned, was drawn to Harper Theater because “they have experience on college campuses and being very much neighborhood feeders… immediately it felt familiar,” Barstow said. "

Ssc48 on December 31, 2022 at 10:35 pm

this theatre is open!

Ssc48 on December 31, 2022 at 10:35 pm

Literally went here to see a movie

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