Copernicus Foundation

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The Copernicus Foundation (Polish: Fundacja Kopernikowska) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization based in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

The former Gateway Theatre, is housed inside the Copernicus Center which is supported by the Copernicus Foundation[1]

It was founded by Poles in Chicago in 1971 in order to raise funds towards raising a monument for the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus to be set in front of the Adler Planetarium. After the monument's dedication at the 500th anniversary of Copernicus in 1973, the Polish-American community decided to use leftover funds towards the purchase of a cultural and civic center for Chicago's Polonia.

After a thorough search for the permanent site of the Polish Cultural Center in Chicago, groundbreaking ceremonies took place at the old Gateway Theatre building located near Milwaukee and Lawrence avenues in 1979. Because the Gateway Theatre had been the first movie theater in Chicago built exclusively for the "talkies," the Foundation decided to preserve the theater itself while remodeling around it. The "Solidarity Tower," with its matching façade, was erected atop the building which was modified to resemble the historic Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland. The tower is an exact replica of the clock tower adorning the castle and its Baroque spire is seen by commuters driving along the Kennedy Expressway.

The activities of the Copernicus Center include:

  • The Taste of Polonia Festival – an annual event at the Copernicus Center [2]
  • Mayfest – or Polish fest [3]
  • January charity event (for children with medical needs) [3]
  • The Copernican Award
  • Multi-Cultural Events [4]
  • Modern Music Events [4]
  • Community Events [4]
  • Venue Rentals [5]

The Copernicus Center is also a meeting place for Polish American & other Civic Organization Meetings, the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce Activities, the Northwest Chicago Historical Society, CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) Meetings, the DAC (District Advisory Council) Meetings, an Annual Law Fair, Dance Recitals, as well as Public Information and Referral Services

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