Tower Theatre

20 S. Illinois Street,
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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One of the smaller theatres that was located in the downtown section of Indianapolis. The Tower Theatre opened in 1919 in a Neo-Classical style and 1,000 seats. By 1935 it was operated by Goulden Theatres with seating listed at 598.

The Tower Theatre closed in 1950 and has since been demolished. There is a new high rise office building where the theatre once stood.

Contributed by Chuck

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

In Polk’s 1919 Indianapolis City Directory, 20 S. Illinois Street is the address of the Rialto Theatre.

The “Among the Picture Theaters” section of the September 23, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World ran several paragraphs about the new Rialto, several weeks after it had opened, but didn’t provide a photo:


“Newest of Photoplay Houses to Be Opened in This City—

“Seats 1,000 and Has $10,000 Organ—Managed by Fred B. Leonard.

“THE latest motion picture theater in Indianapolis, Ind., to throw open its doors is the Rialto, in South Illinois street, just as close to the center of the city as it is possible to get. Cars from every section of the city unload their burden of human freight at the front doors of this theater.

“The Rialto should become one of the most popular theaters of the city. It is deserving of popularity. It has a combination of beauty and comfort. The color scheme of the Rialto to begin with, is green and ivory. The walls are ivory tinted with delicate frescoing, and along the sides are baskets of green glass, filled with ferns and other greenery, so lighted that the plants appear to be growing in water. The ceiling, both of the theater itself and the entrances—there are two— are covered with a white trellis supporting quantities of, smilax. The lights are globes of a delicate green, set among the leaves; there are six hundred of these globes and the effect of the whole is cooling.

“The theater is cool. The heat of the hottest day is forgotten after one enters the long passage with the mirrors and flowing brackets along the side, which leads into the theater proper. In the lower part of the theater half a dozen big electric fans keep going constantly, while in the gallery one immense fan, measuring sixty inches across, circulates 50,000 cubic feet of cool air a minute.

“The theater seats a thousand persons- There are two stage boxes, also ornamented with white covered vine trellises, and a row of boxes at the back of the theater. In the ceiling of the gallery and in the ceiling of the lower floor big green and gold lamps are set in. The lower part of the boxes are draped with green curtains.

“One of the attractions is a $10,000 pipe organ, operated from the center of the orchestra pit. This pit also has its covering of green and white trellis and its smilax.

“The screen, of crystal gold fiber, is set far back on the stage and the out-of-doors effect is heightened by vine-draped pillars and pots of palms and other green things. Two rest rooms, one on each floor, top off the equipment of the theater.

“Fred B. Leonard, manager of the theater, announces that the fitting of the theater cost between $50,000 and $60,000. Mr. Leonard says the theater, under his management, will become one of the highest class theaters in the Middle West if effort will do this. The opening of the theater saw the Blue Bird feature, ‘Shoes.’ The Blue Bird productions will be used regularly by the management of the new theater.”

The opening of the Rialto had also been briefly noted in the August 5 issue of the same publication.

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