Uptown Theater

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

At 4814 Broadway in Chicago is the Uptown Theater built in 1924-25, designed by the Chicago based architectural firm, Rapp and Rapp. It was owned by Balaban and Katz Theatre Corporation (the most profitable theatre chain in America) and had 4,325 seats.

uptownpalatialfront

Following the closure of the theatre in 1981, a burst water pipe caused extensive damage to the interior, and subsequent vandalism caused further deterioration of the structure. In 2006, the exterior was extensively secured and terra cotta pieces were cataloged and stored for future restoration efforts. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the surviving ornaments is a wall-inset drinking fountain, commonly placed in theaters designed by C W Rapp and George Rapp.  The water bubbler provided chilled water from a system located in the basement. The fountain was repaired in the 1990s possibly for use in a movie (the theater was often used to shoot scenes on location.)

The manufacturer of the fountain is unknown. Acanthus leaves flank a highly decorated arch with rope detail. A grimacing mascaron of Poseidon is displayed atop a recessed shell pattern canopy. The circular basin is decorated with rosette fret detail.

Glossary:

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Bubbler, a fountain with a tap which ejects a stream of water
  • Canopy, an ornamental roof-like projection
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Rosette, a round stylized flower design

 

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