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Contents of 1930s purse found in historic Congress Theater crawlspace says so much about women today

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Given the opportunity to explore the concealed cavities and crawlspaces of Chicago’s historic Congress Theater, urban archaeologist Eric Nordstrom documented a “steady stream of discoveries revolving around forgotten objects left behind by tradesmen and moviegoers.”

…including a long-lost woman’s purse.

“These things allow me to connect with people from the past. That’s an incredibly cool feeling,” Nordstrom said, according to DNA Info Chicago.

Built in 1926, the theater “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,” the neighborhood news source reported.

Because the purse had no identification and no money, Nordstrom suggested it was likely “stolen and ditched behind the wall” where it was found along with a few mid-1920’s milk bottles.

Photo Credit UrbanRemainsChicago.com

The contents of the purse included a rosary, a pen, two tubes of lipstick, an address book, liquid foundation, Anacid and a Kelvyn Park pin inside.

And while there was no identification, the address book listed “Elaine Trapp” of 1853 N. Sawyer Ave. as its owner, DNA Info reported.

Nordstrom is looking to return the lost purse to the owner’s family, but the things found inside prove that while much has changed over the years, what women carry with them is surprisingly similar.

As for the fate of the grand old theater, she’s about to get a face-lift, with a developer about to begin a $50 million restoration of the concert hall.


Tom Tillison


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