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The Congress Theater

The Congress Theater paranormal

Location submitted by: sdonley on 02/02/2011
DBA Approved: Y

PANICd#: 1063

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The Congress Theater was designed in 1925 for Lubliner and Trinz, who operated one of Chicago's largest movie theater chains during the 1920's.

2135 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago , IL 60647
Phone: 773-276-1235
Open to the public: Unknown

Lat: 41.919976
Lon: -87.69242

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 1
Claims: 5
Evidence: 1
Resources: 0
Retrievals: 1825
Vistor Rating: 4.0
Votes: 1

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

The Congress Theater was designed in 1925 for Lubliner & Trinz, who operated one of Chicago's largest movie theater chains during the 1920's. The architect was Fridstein & Co., an architectual-engineering company whose other designs include the Belden-Stratford and Shoreland hotels and two other movie theaters, the Harding and Tower (both demolished).The theater opened on September 5, 1926. Besides showing movies, the theater also was a vaudeville house on the prestigious Orpheum Circuit, compromised of theaters throughout the country. Lubliner & Trinz sold their theaters to Balaban & Katz, a rival theater company, in 1929. The congress continued to show movies under the management of this and other companies through the 1980s. In 1990the theater was bought by Ray Spasenovski and his partner James P. Peterson, who bought the building.

The theater has hosted everything from weddings, The International Mr. Leather, experimental music shows, movie festivals, talent shows, visual and other fine arts, movie locations, and special events. Oprah Winfrey used the lobby to shoot her intro of her daily TV show.
Located at the northeast corner of Milwaukee and Rockwell avenues, the Congress Theater is a massive building covering a quarter of a city block. The theater auditorium itself, a massive brick presence sits at the back of the lot. A lobby plus 17 stores and 56 apartments, wraps around the auditorium.

The Congress Theater is built of brown brick with white terra-cotta trim. The theater entrance is dramatic with a four-story terra-cotta facade detailed with a Classical Revival-style pediment and Italian Renaissance-style windows, pilasters, and low-relief ornament. Decorative signboard frames flank multi-paned theater doors. The store-apartment sections are simply detailed with white terra-cotta window surrounds and decorative raised brickwork. In addition, white terra cotta is used to highlight the theater's secondary entrance facing Rockwell.

The theater interior is lavish sequence of spaces, handsomely detailed with decorative stone- and plasterwork. Theatergoers enter a small outer vestibule with two marble-and-gilt iron box office booths. Beyond is the main lobby, a dramatic four-story space with arched ceiling decorated with Italian renaissance-style moldings. Black, gray and light brown marble is used for wainscoting, while the floor is composed of green and off-white marbleized terrazzo squares arranged in a checkerboard pattern. Two large iron-and-glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, accompanied by smaller wall fixtures. At the far end of the main lobby, a grand staircase draws visitors through two doorways, ornamented with elaborated pediment doorframes, that lead into a narrow inner lobby, then the auditorium balcony. Flanking the staircase are two flat-arched passageways that lead to similar lobby serving the orchestra level.

The 2094-seat auditorium, retaining its original color scheme of gold and burgundy, is dramatic in its expansive use of space. A large 55-foot-wide proscenium arch dominates the far wall, flanked by semi circular projecting bays originally containing organ pipes. (The organ was removed in the early 1930s) The orchestras level seats 2,114 while the encircling balcony has additional 790 seats. Arched niches ring the balcony, while a three-tiered saucer dome covers the entire ceiling. The auditorium is lavishly decorated with elaborate plaster- and metal work in the Italian Renaissance architectural style. Wall surfaces, including the dome, are thickly detailed with low-relief ornament such as foliate motifs, swags, urns, fans, and rosettes. Doorways into the balcony are set within frames finely detailed with spiral columns supporting decorative cornices. Original iron-and-glass light fixtures remain in place along the wall.


Added by: sdonley on 02/02/2011 DB#:78


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

The following is an anonymous blog comment posted on the website listed below:

"This place is soooo haunted. When I went there I had a very creepy paranormal experience about 6 years ago. I never could find any information about it until I saw it on TV. I walked out of the second floor woman's washroom and I heard someone shout into my left ear "Hey I think we got him!" As I walking quickly past the stairs I felt an impact in my chest that stopped me in my tracks. I think I was metaphysically shot in the chest. No an everyday occourace for me."

Added by: sdonley on 02/02/2011 DB#:1053

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
1343 02/02/2011 sdonley In the basement, there have been reports of footsteps and eerie feelings in certain areas.
1344 02/02/2011 sdonley Shadow images have been seen in the balcony.
1345 02/02/2011 sdonley Strange noises have been heard on the stage when nobody is in the building.
1346 02/02/2011 sdonley An apparition of a man raising his arm has been reported on the stage.
1347 02/02/2011 sdonley In one of the aisles, there have been reports of an apparition of a woman in a blue dress pacing before she disappears.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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CLAIM #: 1344 - Shadow images have been seen in the balcony.

Evidence Type: Video
Encounter Type: Shadow(s)
Hauting Type: Unknown
Investigation Status: More Investigation Needed
Ghost Hunters (T.A.P.S.) Video
Submitted By: sdonley On: 02/02/2011
DBA Approved: Y

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