Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Ambassador Theatre, 5825 West Division Street, Chicago, Illinois.

The Ambassador was built for the M & H Theaters Corporation in 1924 by architect Harold E. Gallup serving the far western Chicago neighborhood of Austin.

It could seat 2500 in its auditorium and originally hosted stage shows in addition to motion pictures. It was built in the Neo-Classical style and featured a domed lobby that was topped by a cupola.
The marquee was V-shaped and had signage on both Division and Monitor Avenue. Over the marquee were four large arched windows. Terra-cotta decoration covered much of the facade, which was a pale-colored brick.

After the death of Knute Rockne[1] in a plane crash in 1931, the Ambassador Theatre was renamed the Rockne Theater in his honor
Knute Rockne, American football coach. 
The Rockne became an "adult" theater in the 1960s. When neighborhood groups protested the change, the theater's owner agreed to try a change and offered special family films and rates. But the families stayed home and the Rockne reverted back to adult films.

After its days as a movie house ended in the early 1980s, the Rockne began a new life as a church, which it still serves today.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Knute Kenneth Rockne (1918-1930) was a Norwegian-American football player and coach, at the University of Notre Dame. Rockne is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. Rockne died in the crash of TWA Flight #599 in Kansas on March 31, 1931, while en route to participate in the production of the film "The Spirit of Notre Dame," released October 13, 1931.


  1. In the 1960s they showed films there and had live events. I saw the Beatles-"Help" there. We all yelled our heads of for the film.I saw the Monkeys there live when they were promoting their movie. I saw Kim Novak there, when they showed a film that she was in. It was just our neighborhood theater.


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