Bucklen Theater

527 South Main Street,
Elkhart, IN 46516

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The Bucklen Opera House was built in 1884 by Herbert Bucklen. At some point it was converted to a movie theater and the name was changed to the Bucklen Theater. A Kimball organ was installed in the Bucklen Theater in 1915. Movies were shown at the Bucklen Theater until 1956.

In 1986 the Bucklen Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places. That same year the Bucklen Theater was demolished and replaced by a parking lot.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

A photo of the Bucklen Opera House can be seen here. This is a circa 1975 photo of the Bucklen Theater building.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 25, 2009 at 9:35 am

Here is the National Register information

Bucklen Theatre (added 1986 – Building – #76000021)
Also known as Elkhart Opera House
S. Main and Harrison Sts., Elkhart
Historic Significance: Event
Area of Significance: Performing Arts
Period of Significance: 1875-1899, 1900-1924, 1925-1949, 1950-1974
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Commerce/Trade

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 12, 2009 at 8:59 pm

The January, 1987, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that the City of Elkhart had ordered the demolition of the Bucklen Theatre building. A part of the theater’s roof had collapsed in March, 1978. This had been repaired, but another section of roof collapsed in December, 1981. Attempts to raise money to restore the venerable house were made, but had been unsuccessful.

The Elkhart Opera House had opened on September 29, 1884, with Mr. and Mrs. George S. Knight & Company appearing in their comic play “Over the Garden Wall,” which had been a great success in many cities across the country that year. Movies were first shown at the Opera House in the late 1890s, but the Boxoffice article fails to say when the theater became a full-time movie house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2011 at 5:29 am

An extensive description of the Bucklen Opera House can be found on this web page, as part of a biographical sketch of Herbert Bucklen (keep scrolling sown, you’ll get to it.) It says that the architect of the Bucklen Opera House was Mortimer L. Smith, of Detroit, who was also the architect of the Tibbets Opera House in Coldwater, Michigan.

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