Congress Theater

Plan To Restore Congress Theater Approved

Three years ago, I shared that BTL Architects would be part of a project to restore the Congress Theater in Logan Square. Last week the Chicago Plan Commission gave the project the green light. The $69 million renovation project includes a seven-story, 72-unit residential building that the developer said was essential to the success of the overall project.

The Congress Theater, built in 1926, is noted for hosting musical acts such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places.

In a Chicago Tribune story that featured several photos of the building as it exists today, it was noted that the project’s delay was partly caused by the death of one of the developer’s partners. Watch this site for progress on the project and a revised opening date.

An Update: The Historic Congress Theater

Last December, I shared a blog post that gave a little background about the historic Congress Theater in Chicago's Logan Square and our involvement in efforts to bring the building back to life.

Last week, Curbed Chicago editor AJ LaTrace ran an article that provided an update on this major renovation project. New sketches, submitted to the city last week, propose either 32 residences in the theater building or 50 hotel rooms. A separate 10-story residential building would be built on the vacant lot across the street and would include 120 units and ground floor commercial space. Alderman Joe Moreno's office has said that a community review of the proposal will begin shortly.

In the meantime, the owners of the theater have sought landmark status for the 90-plus-year-old building. If secured, the building would be eligible for federal preservation tax credits. As our work proceeds, I will offer additional details on our Portfolio page.

Signs of New Life at the Historic Congress Theater

"Congress Theater Chicago" by Thomas Irvin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

"Congress Theater Chicago" by Thomas Irvin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

BTL Architects is pleased to be a part of a project that will bring new life back to one of Chicago's most intact neighborhood movie "palaces." The Congress Theater, located in Logan Square and built by Fridstein and Company in 1926, contains a 2,904-seat auditorium and was designated an historic landmark in 2002. The building has enjoyed a colorful and sometimes controversial past - and is being restored in anticipation of a bright future as a live music venue.

The $55 million major renovation project will restore the theater along with the store fronts and residential units that surround the theater. As reported by Paul Biasco in DNAinfo Chicago, the restoration group behind the project (New Congress LLC) is headed by Michael Moyer, who led the $20 million restoration of the Cadillac Palace Theatre downtown.

Architectural rendering by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

Architectural rendering by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

The Congress Theater features ornate interior and exterior design work in a combination of the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles. You can see pre-restoration photos in this Curbed Chicago article from January 2015. The first phase of restoration, including the repair and reset of terra cotta and tuck pointing, has been underway this fall. The restoration aims for listing the Congress Theater on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch for more on this project in future posts.