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AFC Theater History
Renaissance Revival is a term used to describe a style of classic movie theaters. Many early movie palaces were built on this style, in keeping with its Italian Renaissance influences and symmetrical layouts. Even today the regal splendor of the AFC structure comes shining through.

One of Chicagolands best kept secrets is located in the Auburn Gresham Community on the city's South Side. Originally opened in 1926 as the Highland Theater, this majestic Renaissance Revival building now houses the AFC Center, designed by the firm of Newhouse & Bernham, a local architectural group that also designed the last several versions of the McVickers Theater in the Loop. Like the McVickers, the much larger facility presently known as The AFC Center, located at 7859 S. Ashland Avenue features extensive Terra-cotta work on its facades. Terrazzo flooring, marble walls and elegant chandeliers adorn the main lobby area. However whether entering the main entrance on South Ashland Ave. or the side entrance on west 79th Street the visitor may be rendered breathless by the celestial and timeless beauty displayed in both areas. 

Historically the theater had a towering vertical marquee which was illuminated by hundreds of light bulbs that could be seen for blocks. Both vaudeville and motion pictures were on the program at the Highland for its first couple decades of operation, even after the theater was acquired by Warner Brothers in the 30's. However, by the 50's, it switched to movies only. The highland closed as a movie house more than three decades ago, but it was later converted into a facility designed exclusively for religious and inspirational events, conferences, meetings, and revivals.


The AFC has housed many theater companies including: Jackie Taylor's Black Ensemble Theater, Michael Matthews Productions, and JVC Productions hit musical Talkin' 'Bout the Church Folks. In addition, various national acts have played the AFC including: Shirley Caesar, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, The Clark Sisters, and Rance Allen. Major corporations have held events at the AFC including: Walgreen's, Crawford Broadcasting, Clear Channel Communications and Prentice Hall Publishing.

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