Indiana Theater

419 East Main Street,
Washington, IN 47501

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Indiana Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built on the site of the Grand Opera House which was destroyed by fire on January 11, 1926. The Indiana Theater opened October 6, 1926. It was closed by AMC in December 2011. In May 2012 it was taken over by Friends of the Indiana Theater and KJB Theatres took over in June 2014. After renovations and restoration, it reopened on November 6, 2014.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

soybean on January 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

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 7, 2011 at 3:41 am

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 on January 7, 2011 at 9:36 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 on January 7, 2011 at 6:39 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 on March 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

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:!/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 on May 23, 2012 at 11:07 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 24, 2012 at 3:06 am

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.

KJB_Theaters on July 2, 2014 at 12:34 am

Update: This theater was recently purchased by KJB Theaters, who in recent years purchased and converted to digital The Paris Theater in Paris, IL. Renovations and repairs are currently happening, and the theater expects to re-open with All Digital Projection and Sound in the Fall of 2014!

MKtchamp on November 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Fully restored with all-new digital projectors, the Indiana Theater will re-open November 6, 2014. Given the historic significance of the Washington, Indiana theater, the re-opening has attracted considerable media attention. The following local story was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in the Indianapolis Star (and other media).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm

The article MKtchamp linked to says that the Indiana Theatre opened on October 6, 1926. The Opera House built in 1892 was destroyed by a fire earlier that year, as reported (without the theater’s name) in the January 12, 1926 issue of The Film Daily:

“ Fire Destroys Wash. Ind., House

“Washington, Ind. — Fire destroyed a local house, causing a loss estimated at $150,000. Nearly 1,000 persons were in the theater when the fire started but all filed out quietly.”

The Janauary 11, 1926, issue of The Indianapolis News reported that the damage to the Grand Theatre, formerly the Grand Opera House, been extensive, with walls collapsing into the street and through the roof of an adjacent building. Because of the extent of the damage it seems unlikely that much, if any, of the structure of the Opera House remained to be incorporated into the Indiana Theatre. Perhaps we should consider the Grand Opera House/Grand Theatre a separate house rather than aka’s for the Indiana Theatre?

The Indiana Theatre was built for the Switow chain of Louisville, Kentucky, and operated by them for many years. The “Theatres in Construction” column of the May 5, 1926, issue of Variety had this item about it:

“Washington, Ind. — $100,000. Fourth and Main streets. Owners, A. Switow & Sons, Louisville. Architect, Carl J. Epping, Louisville. Pictures.”
Carl J. Epping was around this time president of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It’s possible that he designed other theater projects for the Switow interests, but I haven’t been able to track any down.

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