Indiana Theater

419 East Main Street,
Washington, IN 47501

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Indiana Theater

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The Indiana Theater dates back to at least 1897 when it operated as the Opera House.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on January 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Would this theater have been called the “Opera House” in the 1910s? I have a postcard advertising films at the Washington, Indiana Opera House from 1913.

You can see both sides of this postcard at [url]http://www.silentfilmstillarchive.com/washington_opera_house_1915.htm[/url].

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 6, 2011 at 5:54 am

The architectural style of the Indiana looks more 1920s than 1910s. A town as small as Washington probably wouldn’t have had a movie theater as large as the Indiana built as early as 1913. My guess would be that the Indiana Theatre was built in the 1920s, and most likely in 1926, when the organ was installed.

In Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide of 1897, the earliest edition available to me, there is a listing for an Opera House in Washington, managed by Horrall Bros., who are still listed as operators in the 1899-1900 edition. In the 1904-1905 and 1906-1907 editions the Opera House was listed as managed by Frank Green. Cahn lists the Opera House as a second-floor theater, and the Indiana looks like a ground floor theater, which is further indication that they were probably not the same house.

The 1893 issue of the entertainment trade journal The New York Clipper listed a house called Wise’s Family Theatre, which had been opened at Washington, Indiana, on November 14, 1892. It seems fairly likely that Wise’s Family Theatre, the Opera House of Cahn’s guides, and Palmer Bros. Grand on the postcard with the 1913 postmark, were all the same theater, and that it had changed operators several times.

Washington had a movie house called the Theatorium which was mentioned in the December 13, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World. I doubt that it became the Indiana Theatre either, but it is possible that the Theatorium was the Opera House, which could have been renamed sometime after the postcard above was printed, though it’s also quite possible that the Theatorium was an entirely different theater. Addresses would have to be found for both names to know for sure.

Given that the postcard ad shows the Opera House operating as a movie and vaudeville theater, and given that it was almost certainly not the Indiana Theater, I think it would be reasonable to give it a listing at Cinema Treasures.

Also, Kerasotes' web site doesn’t list any showdates for this theater. Has it been closed?

soybean
soybean on January 6, 2011 at 7:26 am

Joe Vogel,
Since Kerasotes sold most of their theaters to AMC. This theater is most likely either owned by AMC now or could easily had been closed by AMC as AMC has closed many of the Kerasotes theaters that they had purchase.

soybean
soybean on January 6, 2011 at 7:48 am

Doing some checking online, Washington Theater did become an AMC Theater,AMC 2. Though it was not listed on the AMC Theater website when I check for theater locations a few minutes ago. Most likely AMC closed this theater when they were closing many of the former Kerasotes theaters that they had purchase. If this theater is open, it is being operated by an independent or another chain. I couldn’t find movie times for this theater. So it could be closed.

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on January 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I contacted someone at the Daviess County Historical Society, and they confirmed that the Indiana Theater was originally the Opera House. Obviously it was a performing arts theater before being a silent film theater. Unfortunately, AMC has recently closed it.

If you go to the Daviess County Historical Society Facebook page, they have several photos of the theater through the years.

MrDJDude
MrDJDude on January 7, 2011 at 3:36 am

Here’s your answer: View link

AMC closed it around Christmas. There is a local movement to get it opened again, though. But for now, the marquee is blank and the entry boarded. Good luck to them!

soybean
soybean on January 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Sounds like AMC closed this theater about the same time they closed several other former Kerasotes theaters. I wonder if AMC on purpose didn’t do repairs to the building as they had already planned on closing this theater. So this would give them a different excuse for closing this theater, from the excuse they used on closing many of the other former Kerasotes Theaters they had bought. The Will Rogers Theater @ Charleston, Illinois wasn’t kept up by AMC & became in poor shape before it was closed by AMC. Not sure why AMC bought so many Kerasotes Theater to only closed them a few months after opearting them. Wonder who & where the next former Kerasotes Theater will be closed by AMC ?

Movielover74
Movielover74 on March 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

Friends of the Indiana Theater is working hard to secure ownership of the building and reopen in the future. We are hosting a block party/fundraiser on March 17th, 2012. More details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/174396455987193/ It is my belief that AMC purchased our theater with the intent of closing it after the mutiplex in Vincennes, which is what happened. AMC has a monopoly, at least in our area.

Movielover74
Movielover74 on May 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

An update; Friends of The Indiana Theater, Inc. has a signed purchase agreement with AMC and was set to close on the building today, May 23,2012. Last I heard Friends of The Indiana Theater, Inc. was still searching for the last $8310 needed to complete the purchase. I pray they make it…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

The 1894 edition of the New York Clipper Annual says that the Opera House in Washington, Indiana, was dedicated on January 2, 1893. I don’t know of this means that the Opera House was a different house than Wise’s Family Theatre, opened in 1892, or if new owners had renamed Wise’s and rededicated it.

This web page says that the Renaissance Revival facade (it looks mostly Italian Renaissance to me) was put on the building in the mid-1920s. I would imagine that the interior was rebuilt at the same time, or earlier. The Opera House was a second floor theater, and few of those survived long as movie houses. Those that did had almost invariably been rebuilt as ground-floor theaters at some point, and the Indiana was probably no exception.

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