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Movie House of Worship: Chicago’s Central Park Theatre, the First Air-Conditioned Cinema in the World

Central_Park_Theater_(House_of_Prayer_Church_of_God_In_Christ)“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, we highlight one theater that is actually a church. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. Central Park Theatre Location: 3535 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL Opened: October 27, 1917 (reopened as a church in 1971) No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: none The purpose of our Movie Houses of Worship column is to showcase our and your favorite cinemas, the places we worship movies. But in this edition I’m spotlighting an actual house of religious worship. For more than 40 years, Chicago’s Central Park Theatre has been a church rather than a place exhibiting films. Specifically it has been the home of the House of Prayer, Church of God in Christ. Until earlier this year, when it closed because of 105 building code violations. Why am I devoting this post to a place that no longer has anything to do with movies? Will I start giving attention to the super churches that take over abandoned multiplex buildings, as well? Probably not. The thing is that the Central Park Theatre does have something to do with movies. It always will. It was the first movie palace for the city and of united legendary cinema partners Balaban & Katz. It’s a historical landmark, though not officially. Although it is on the