In the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church was formed in 1902. During the Great Migration, African-Americans made Ebenezer their church home.
Ebenezer developed a reputation as a center for gospel music. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993), the father of gospel music, introduced his blend of Christian praise and blues at Ebenezer and started the first gospel choir here.
During the 30-year pastorate of Rev. Frank K. Sims, distinguished guests of the church included Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Ralph Metcalfe (1910-1978), Adam Clayton Powell (1908-1972) and Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972).
In 1966 a banquet honoring Dr. Frank Kentworth Sims on the 7th anniversary of his pastorate of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church featured Nobel Peace Prize recipient the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the guest speaker and Mahalia Jackson as guest vocalist.
The Loma Theatre, designed by S. Charles Lee (1899-1990), was opened on May 5, 1945 with its first feature, 20th Century-Fox’s Technicolor musical film, Diamond Horseshoe, starring Betty Grable. See – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8wTy6_Si5U&t=106s – retrieved December 29, 2022.
Mann Theatres operated it from 1973 to December 1987 (Its last feature was Paramount Pictures’ Fatal Attraction, starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close). The Loma ’s vintage signage is intact along with some of its movie-house interior although today it serves as a bookstore. For some interesting memories of a friendly and classy movie house, see – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1716– retrieved December 29, 2022.
S. Charles Lee was one of the foremost mid20th-century architects of movie houses on the West Coast. Simeon Charles Levi was born and grew up in Chicago. There Lee worked for Rapp & Rapp, the renown Chicago architectural firm that specialized in movie theatre design. Rapp & Rapp’s significant work in this period included State Street’s Chicago Theatre in 1921, and the Bismarck Hotel and Theatre, and the Oriental Theatre both in 1926.
The Loma Theatre’s architect was influenced by Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). In 1922, before moving to Los Angeles, Lee was impressed by the Chicago Tribune building competition on North Michigan Avenue whose competitors juxtaposed historicism, such as the Beaux-Arts, with modernism. Lee considered himself a modernist, and his design career expressed the Beaux-Arts discipline and a modernist functionalism and freedom of form.
Beginning his career in California in the 1920’s, by the 1930’s S. Charles Lee was the principal designer of motion picture theaters in Los Angeles. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Lee is credited with designing many hundreds of movie theaters in California, including San Diego’s Loma Theatre at 3150 Rosecrans Boulevard.