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Time Capsule Of Depression-Era Candy Wrappers Found In Congress Theater

By  Justin Breen and Mina Bloom | March 7, 2017 5:12am 

 Candy wrappers and boxes found inside the historic Congress Theater.
Candy wrappers and boxes found inside the historic Congress Theater.
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Eric Nordstrom

CHICAGO — Eric Nordstrom's latest treasure found inside the historic Congress Theater comes in candy box and wrapper form.

Nordstrom recently discovered the Junior Mints, Red Hots and other candy boxes and wrappers in an air circulation chamber (called a plenum) below the balcony seating in the theater's auditorium. He also spotted the containers in the theater's attic.

Nordstrom said some of the wrappers dated to at least the 1940s.

"This is a rare opportunity to explore a movie palace, largely unaltered since it was built," Nordstrom said. "The plenums should have been frequently cleaned. That didn't happen here, but it certainly worked to my advantage since a time capsule containing decades worth of refuse was left behind for me to document and in some ways, connect with the people from the past."

Nordstrom is the founder of Urban Remains, a West Town firm that recycles and re-sells objects from old buildings. He routinely ventures inside historic buildings to find forgotten objects. On at least a dozen occasions, he's found time capsules.

The theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., opened on Sept. 5, 1926, and closed when it lost its liquor license in 2013 due to various building and code violations and high-profile crimes that happened in and around the venue. Since then, community leaders have been pushing for it to be redeveloped.

Over the summer, the developer unveiled its latest proposal for the concert hall. The plan includes rehabbing the historic venue and building a 10-story residential tower on the lot across the street with 120 residential units and ground-floor commercial space. Plans also call for either 32 residential units in the old theater building or 50 hotel rooms in the theater.