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Portage Theater wins commission’s backing for landmark status

Portage Theater 4050 N. Milwaukee. FILE PHOTO by Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee. FILE PHOTO by Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Updated: April 9, 2013 11:55AM

A city agency Thursday endorsed landmark status for the 93-year-old Portage Theater on the Northwest Side.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, following a process it started nearly a year ago, urged unanimously that the building at 4050 N. Milwaukee be protected. The recommendation becomes law if accepted by the City Council.

The panel acted on a city report that said the property, officially called the Portage Park Theatre Building, is “an excellent ‘transitional’ movie theater,” exemplifying a post-World War I era when movie palaces were becoming elaborate. The Portage, with a lavishly decorated auditorium and a bright marquee, is “an important commercial and cultural institution in the Portage Park neighborhood,” the report said.

The theater is leased to an operation that exhibits classic and historic films. It’s also the home for two film societies.

Last year, neighbors rallied behind its continued use for movies and cultural events when a church had a pending deal to buy the Portage. The church withdrew its offer and the Portage later was sold to Erineo “Eddie” Carranza, who also runs the Congress Theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee, a venue for live music. David Roeder

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