632 West 63rd Street
Built 1931, demolished 1991
Architect: C.W. and George Rapp
The Southtown Theater was one of the largest movie houses ever built on the city’s South Side. Completed in 1931, it could accommodate audiences of 3,200 people. It was located at 632 W. 63rd Street, about two blocks east of Halsted Avenue. At the time of its opening, the theater was one of thirty-five theaters in Chicago and other Midwestern cities comprising the Balaban & Katz movie theater circuit.
Designed in the Art Deco style of the early 1930s, the building included a sleek, seven-story tower that served as the theater’s high-profile vertical marquee. Interestingly, a derigible hook was also affixed to the top of the tower, supposedly to allow the crews of passing blimps to dock and catch a show. In stark contrast to the ornate movie palaces of the 20s, the derigible hook was one of the Southtown’s few architectural adornments, a fanciful gesture aimed at both attracting publicity for the theater and to sustaining the public’s hope that new technologies would bring a swift end to the Depression.
During the 1960s, the theater was converted into a department store (Carr’s).