LOGAN SQUARE — Urban archaeologist Eric Nordstrom took yet another trip inside Congress Theater's air circulation chamber (called a plenum) and found more treasures, including a rusted-shut purse full of personal items.
After managing to pry open the purse, Nordstrom found a rosary, a pen, two tubes of lipstick, an address book, liquid foundation, Anacid (modern-day Advil) and a Kelvyn Park pin inside.
Noticeably missing was a wallet or any form of identification, but the address book listed "Elaine Trapp" of 1853 N. Sawyer Ave. as its owner. Nordstrom is hoping to reunite the lost purse with the owner's family.
"These things allow me to connect with people from the past. That's an incredibly cool feeling," Nordstrom said.
As the founder of West Town-based firm Urban Remains, Nordstrom recycles and re-sells objects from old buildings. With permission from the developer, Nordstrom has been exploring the historic theater as a labor of love since January.
"In a perfect world, I would go there every day," he said of the theater, which has become his "second home."
Along with the purse, this trip yielded an assortment of old milk bottles, a bunch of Congress Theater ticket stubs, matches and wrappers, all of which he said were likely left behind by either moviegoers or the tradesmen who built the theater.
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.
In the coming months, a developer will begin restoring the concert hall. The $50 million redevelopment plan includes commercial space, residential units and possibly hotel rooms.