Chicago, IL — Curtains for the Uptown Hull House Center theater

hull houseCurtains for the Uptown Hull House Center theater
By Deanna Isaacs | Published by
June 25, 2013

“There’s more drama here than there is onstage” is how Stuart Gordon, founder of Chicago’s legendary Organic Theater Company, described the battle he and a starry, mostly west-coast consortium have been waging to preserve the little basement theater in Uptown’s Hull House Center that once was Organic’s home.

The struggle has pitted the California-based Chicago expats, local theater folk, and architectural preservationists against local real estate investor David Gassman, who owns the building, at 4520 N. Beacon. He plans to gut the theater and turn the whole place into apartments.

Gordon’s group includes the likes of William Petersen, William H. Macy, and Jim Belushi. Last week, even as local support dwindled, former Organic members Joe Mantegna and George Wendt were in town making the case for saving the theater.

“Here’s an opportunity for Chicago to prove that it’s more than just a second city,” Mantegna said, opining that Chicago’s scrappy theater companies have had more impact and influence than the city’s symphony or opera. “At least take a breath and step back a second. Once you destroy it, it’s gone.”

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