When we heard last week that Bridgeport’s long-neglected Ramova Theater (3518 South Halsted Street) was finally getting some love, our hearts went aflutter.
The Ramova is the big sister of Lakeview’s beloved Music Box Theater. But while the Music Box enjoys a loyal following and star status, the Ramova slowly decays, turning into a pile of soggy sawdust and foul-smelling grit.
There have been a number of attempts to revive the entertainment palace over the years, but none has stuck. When word reached us that work was finally being done, we were cautiously hopeful that the theater that hasn’t had a show in nearly 30 years might finally get another chance. Unfortunately, our caution was warranted.
Rather than a restoration effort, the recent construction in the 3500 block of South Halsted had been just a maintenance project. As confirmed by the big sign in the vacant lot just to the south of the theater which identifies it as merely a “Ramova Theater Stabilization Project.”
At the request of the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, the city is paying Globetrotters Engineering $23,430 to oversee the project fixing the building’s leaks, tucking the points (so to speak), and to make sure the facade doesn’t come crumbling down in people walking by. The project should take about eight weeks with a total estimated cost of $333,038. The money comes from the local TIF district.
The facade work on the Halsted Street side is so extensive that every business in the building except the Chicago Boxing Club has moved out.