Rio Theatre

Fifth Street,
Columbus, IN 47201

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 11, 2015 at 5:35 am

The Knights of Pythias Building, also known as Castle Hall, was built in 1905-1906. The project included an amusement hall on the ground floor at the rear of the three-story structure. This hall had a level floor and portable seats, and was intended to accommodate a variety of events including dances.

The building was dedicated in January, 1906, and on September 3 that year the amusement hall began operating as the Orpheum Theatre, the first vaudeville house in Columbus. Sometime after 1909, a new owner changed the name of the house to the Crystal Theatre. In 1915 the theater was rebuilt with a proper sloped floor, and a balcony was added. In the later 1910s the house was renamed again, becoming the American Theatre. It had been renamed the Rio Theatre by 1939, probably at the same time it was remodeled in a Streamline Modern style.

The original architect of the Knights of Pythias Building was Elmer E. Dunlap, but I’ve been unable to discover who designed the Crystal Theatre rebuilding of 1915 or the 1930s remodeling as the Rio.

Most of this information comes from various posts on the Historic Columbus Indiana Message Board, but the information is scattered over several pages, so I won’t link to all of them. Near the bottom of this page is a postcard showing the Knights of Pythias Building as it originally looked, and some patron reminiscences of the Rio Theatre can be found on this page.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 11, 2015 at 1:45 am

1956 photo and copy added via the Historic Columbus, Indiana Facebook page.

Another view of the old Evening Republican building at Fifth and Washington (please refer to the two prior postings from this morning). This is from the 1956 Columbus High School yearbook. The triangular shaped building in front of the Evening Republican building housed the Tasty Nut snack shop and Smith’s Jewelers. Eventually, Home Federal would purchase all the property, including Castle Hall (where the Rio Theater is shown), and demolish it all.