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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.