WIN: Chicago Celebrity Musicians Join Effort to Revitalize the Ramova Theatre (Chicago 7 2012)

Ramova Theater, 1929, Meyer O. Nathan, 3518 S. Halsted Street. Photo taken May 24, 1984. Photo Credit: John McCarthy. Courtesy Al Krasauskas‎ / CinemaTreasures.org

“Chicago icons Jennifer Hudson, Chance the Rapper and Quincy Jones have teamed up to reopen and revitalize the Ramova Theatre, located in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport, after the venue’s nearly 40-year dormancy.

“With Hudson, Chance and Jones as co-owners, the Ramova will reopen in fall 2023 as a 1,500-capacity live music venue with a grill, beer garden and brewery in partnership with Other Half Brewing.

“‘I believe the cultural divides in our communities will always be bridged and uplifted by music and the arts,’ said Jones. ‘With Ramova, I see a future where the rich cultural heritage of Chicago shines even brighter alongside the country’s most talented artists, which will inspire future generations to come and bring glory to America’s Second City.’

“Ramova, which opened in 1929 as Bridgeport’s primary movie theater, shuttered its doors in 1985 after a final screening of ‘Police Academy 2.’ The theatre earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021, a few years after developer Tyler Nevius became an investor and owner of the venue and sought out to reimagine and reopen it.

“Ramova’s reinvigoration is part of a wider investment effort into the South Side of Chicago. According to a press release, ‘Ramova will also offer educational programs [and] workshops, and amplify community initiatives from local nonprofits.’

“‘My mother always taught us to take care of home first, so to support the rehabilitation of this extraordinary theater with such a rich history in Chicago means more to me than one could imagine,’ Hudson said. ‘I am honored and thrilled to help build this new home for artists and highlight this special community in new ways that will reach far beyond the neighborhoods we call home.’

“Chance the Rapper added, ‘Chicago will always be part of who I am. I joined the team at Ramova to give back to the city that’s given me so much and to provide a stage to showcase the incredible talent Chicago has to offer. This is our moment to revitalize Chicago neighborhoods through one of the most beautiful ways possible — the arts.’ (Shanfel, Chicago Tribune, 11/15/23)

Preservation Chicago is thrilled that the Ramova Theater will finally be reopened after a long restoration and much longer period of vacancy. The Ramova Theater was a Chicago 7 Most Endangered 2012 along with a number of other neighborhood theaters. Preservation Chicago had long advocated to find a user for the Ramova in partnership with the Save the Ramova campaign lead by Maureen Sullivan, a dedicated Bridgeport neighbor and community leader.

Ward Miller and Preservation Chicago were even involved with the preservation and relocation of the Ramova Grill interior fixtures, a beloved neighborhood restaurant located next to the theater, to Benton House in 2012. Perhaps it’s time for its return to Halsted and 35th Street as part of this comprehensive Ramova Theater renovation?

Preservation Chicago continues to work with and support stakeholders in an effort to help the final Ramova Theater redevelopment be as successful as possible. We fully support this development and supported the use of TIF funds to make it possible. This is precisely the type of neighborhood-oriented reinvestment that Chicago needs to help make all neighborhoods vibrant places to live, work and explore.

Read the full story at Chicago Tribune

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