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Id like to get the history right here and on waymarking. maybe together we can get it straightened out.
The comment on the size was not stated well at all. I will get that changed. What was meant was the buildings footprint has stayed the same. I believed it had been the same building from the beginning. Notice the chimney in the pictures. It stays the same throughout the years if I remember right. I know the building was divided up differently throughout the years though. The more devastating fires would have burned out the flooring that originally created a second floor in the building but I am under the impression the auditorium as you called it was not new in 36. About all that remained were the walls after the fire but I thought those were reused in the reconstruction. I can take a closer look at the foundation and bricks the next time I am in town. The building took on a rear “auditorium” look when that second floor was abandoned in favor of the “auditorium” style theater inside. The front of the building however has seen quite a few rebuilds from the ground up.
I also recall my research indicated the theatorium was in that location not a house in town. One thing I seem to recall is seeing a stand alone sign in one of the early years photographs of the street. I’m not sure if it was legible but it was the type one would expect for announcement of the current showings. It looked to be about 3-4 feet tall and about 2 ½ feet wide. It looked as if it was constructed of two pieces of lumber leaning into one another so that it could be picked up and folded flat. Just my memory of the photo… its been quite a few years since I researched this project.
I can account for many of the business back in those days and thought I had the theater location pretty well nailed down. Syracuse is a pretty small town. In any case if its needed I can dig more into tax records and deeds if needed to firm this up.
On a current note, the local paper had a story in it in late winter that the theater was up for sale again. It said they were not planing on closing it but were looking for new owners.
1919 “Theatorium” advertisement for “Sis Hopkins” movie and the rest of the schedule for the week including the orchestra that will be playing. Cant wait for talkies to come into existence!
this is of the 1946 fire
The drive in had a equipment failure in 2010 the night before I went there. A temporary sign was up saying they would open up soon. Then the theater went dark and a for sale sign went up. It was purchased by a family in Wabash and donated to be reopened again. It is now playing first run movies 2 nights a week and looks to be safe for some time to come. See http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMBHRJ_13_24_Drive_In_Wabash_IN_OPEN for the full story on it at
where the storage place is located in 2011
see the waymarking site for a phot0 that you can enlarge enough to make out the date on the paper. Its August 16, 1925. Pretty much proof the theater was in existence before 1930’s and with the other photo’s its real hard to argue it was not around before the 1930’s
Notice how the second story of the building has rounded turrets. In the 1936 rebuild the Pickwick’s second story is flatter and more the style of a Swiss villa. What you see here burns in the 1925 fire.
For a good history with photos to back up the text see the following link http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMBBNM_Pickwick_Theater_Syracuse_IN
The theater was built before 1934 as you can easily tell by the photo of the newspaper clipping detailing a fire that broke out in 1925. It has actually survived three fires.
Here are some clips from the waymarking page:
This theater has a fascinating history. It has been rebuilt 4 times as it stands and has survived 3 fires that burned everything around it to the ground! One of those fires even burned off the second floor of the theater but it still survived. The history dates back to the turn of the century. Pictures date to 1905.
The theater survived its first fire in 1925! Three people were hurt in the fire but no on was killed thank goodness. It was rebuilt and a second story and fancy Swiss type front facade was added to the theater. It was incorporated into a “theater complex” way back in the 30’s! It was known as the Picwick but it was not just a theater, it was a whole block of businesses and with the radically unique styling it was quite the talk in all the surrounding counties. But it wouldn’t last.
Once again fire would strike. In 1946 the entire complex burned to the ground, all that is but the theater which survived its second bout with fire. The lobby was destroyed as was the second story above it but the theater itself made it through. Following the fire the rest of the block was razed. The theater lobby though was rebuilt once again and the theater itself cleaned up and it was open for business again.
Tough life for sure but it wasn’t over. Once again in the 1970’s the “Pickwick Block” catches fire and burns to the ground again, that is all but the theater. The restaurant right next door was totaled as was the drug store next to it all the way to the corner. Some how the theater did not burn but everything else was demolished. So again the Pickwick Block was rebuilt. This time though a new style was incorporated, different but just as radical as its old styling before the 1946 fire.
This time the basement of the old block was saved (remember now the theater is still ok – it needed a little refurbishment and rebuilding of the marquee and the facade which keeps getting blasted with every fire but it survives). The Pickwick Block basement is made into a restaurant and on top of it a small park is made with buildings that face inward to the park. This is how the Pickwick Block stands today. The restaurant is called “The Down Under”.
Check out the photos at the waymarking site. I will try to post some of them here as well.