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Congress Theater

Coordinates: 41°55′12″N 87°41′32″W / 41.92°N 87.69222°W / 41.92; -87.69222
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Congress Theater
The Congress Theater in 2008
Address2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Logan Square, Chicago, Illinois
United States
Coordinates41°55′12″N 87°41′32″W / 41.92°N 87.69222°W / 41.92; -87.69222
OwnerNew Congress LLC
DesignationNational Landmark
TypeMixed-use theater block
Current useClosed for renovation
Built1926; 98 years ago (1926)
Reopened(projected) 2023
Years active1926-2013
ArchitectFridstein & Company
Congress Theater
Congress Theater is located in Chicago
Congress Theater
Location in Chicago
Congress Theater is located in Illinois
Congress Theater
Location in Illinois
Congress Theater is located in the United States
Congress Theater
Location in United States
Arealess than one acre
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Italian Renaissance
NRHP reference No.160005792[1][2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 6, 2017
Designated CLJuly 10, 2002

The Congress Theater is a historic movie palace in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Fridstein and Company designed it in 1926 for the movie theater operator Lubliner and Trinz. It features ornate exterior and interior design work in a combination of the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

In its heyday, the Congress Theater could seat over 2,904 moviegoers. The theater block also had 17 retail storefronts with 56 apartments above. More recently, the theater operated as a 3,500-capacity live music venue.

For years the building was a common and popular concert venue. In April 2013, the theater was shut down and had its liquor license revoked due to numerous safety code violations.[3] It was a source of controversy due to issues such as liquor violations, a notoriously tough security team, and lax building upkeep.[4]

In early 2014, Carranza announced he would sell the theater to developer Michael Moyer.[4] Moyer planned to spend $65 million restoring the theater, with the goal of reopening the Congress in 2019.[5] This plan, now under the ownership of Baum Revision, was approved by the City's Permit Review Committee in June, 2022 and by the full City Council on July 19, 2023. The budget is reported to be $88 million, including $27 million in Tax Increment Funding.[6]

Notable events[edit]

  • The theater was designated a Chicago Landmark on July 10, 2002.[7]
  • In May 2008, pop punk band Panic! At The Disco recorded the live album …Live In Chicago This album was the last album with guitarist Ryan Ross. The live album released in December
  • In August 2008, pop punk band Paramore recorded a live CD/DVD titled The Final Riot! at the theater. It was released in November 2008 and it was awarded in US (Gold Album) and Canada (Platinum Album).
  • On March 31, 2009, VH1 Storytellers recorded a segment on blues band ZZ Top at the Congress Theater; the show aired June 27, 2009, on VH1 Classic.
  • As part of his 2012 New Year's Eve performance, producer/DJ Rusko shot the music video for hit single "Somebody to Love", released via Diplo's Mad Decent record label.[8]
  • On March 13, 2019, the Chicago City Council approved a redevelopment agreement for the Congress Theater with related construction of residential units on N Rockwell Street and Milwaukee Avenue. The developer intended to substantially rehabilitate the approximately 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) Theater Property into a 4,900 seat music venue with the addition of an approximately 30-room boutique hotel; the addition of approximately 14 affordable residential rental units; and approximately 16,000 square feet (1,500 m2) of ground floor restaurant/retail commercial space. The agreement included $8.85 million in tax increment financing funds.[9]
  • On June 28, 2021, David Baum announced that Baum Revision has taken over the project and is planning to redevelop the landmark theater as well as the surrounding apartments and retail space, using the already approved plan (although excluding the associated 72-unit apartment building).[10]



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Congress Theater National Landmark Designation Report" (PDF). City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  3. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent (May 24, 2013). "Congress Theater in peril as city revokes liquor license". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b DeRogatis, Jim (January 19, 2014). "Sale of Congress Theater pending". WBEZ. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ Yerak, Becky (October 12, 2017). "With $65 million renovation soon underway, Congress Theater looks to reopen in 2019". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Congress Theater Overhaul Back On Track?". 17 July 2023.
  7. ^ "Chicago Landmarks: Congress Theater". City of Chicago. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
  8. ^ "Rusko - Somebody to Love". YouTube. March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  9. ^ "Office of the City Clerk - Record #: SO2019-1050".
  10. ^ "Long-Vacant Congress Theater Could Reopen in 2023 with New Developer on Board". 29 June 2021.