Madison Theatre

224 W. Main Street,
Madison, IN 47250

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The Grand Opera House was opened in the late-1890’s. It became the Madison Theatre in 1940, with seating listed at 848. The Madison Theatre was located three blocks east of the Ohio Theatre on Main Street. Originally operated by Johnson Theatres and later by Affiliated Theatrese.

The Madison Theatre closed in the early-1950’s.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 20, 2010 at 7:46 am

This page has a photo of the Madison Theatre, and considerable information about it. The building was erected in the 1850s as a church and later altered to become an opera house (it was listed in Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide, issues of of 1897 and 1906, as the Grand Opera House, with 900 seats.)

The house began showing movies early in the silent era. The site doesn’t give a closing date, but says that the Madison was demolished in 1960. The address is given as 222-224 W. Main Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 20, 2010 at 8:32 am

After some thought, I’ve realized that 1940 was probably the year the Grand Theatre was renamed Madison Theatre. I’m not sure when the Grand Opera House became simply the Grand Theatre, but it might have been sometime around 1928, when an organ was installed.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 20, 2010 at 11:57 am

As Joe Vogel points out above, the Grand Opera House in Madison IN was listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. Unfortunately, there are no street addresses in this Guide. It was run by the Grand Opera House Company, F.E. DeLoste, business mgr. It had 900 seats, was on the ground floor, and had both gas and electric illumination. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to 75 cents. The proscenium opening was 37 feet wide X 25 feet high, and the stage was 35 feet deep. There were 2 newspapers in town and 3 hotels for show folk. The 1897 population of Madison was 10,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 21, 2010 at 2:00 am

The tire store mentioned in the intro is in a modern building, not the former Madison Theatre. The Madison was located across the street. Comparing the ca.1940 photo I linked to against the modern Google Street View, you can see that the building that was next door to the Madison is still there. The Madison’s site has been a parking lot for fifty years.

I’m not sure the Grand Opera House opened in the 1890s. It might have been earlier. The 1897 edition of Cahn’s Guide is the earliest available to me. The caption of the photo I linked to only says that the opera house was in a building from the 1850s that originally housed a church. It doesn’t give the year it was converted into the opera house.

Given the fact that the non-curchlike facade was probably built as part of the conversion into an opera house, and that its style is the Italianate that was popular through the 1870s but went out of fashion in most places during the 1880s, it seems quite possible that the Grand Opera House opened in the 1870s, and probable that it was in operation by the late 1880s.

Concerning the address, it should be 224 West Main Street. Madison has an eccentric street numbering system. On the east side of town, odd numbers are on the north sides of streets, and on the west side odd numbers are on the south sides of streets. The Madison Theatre was on the north side of Main on the west side of town, so it had an even number.

musicformovies
musicformovies on September 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Joe Vogel: <I’m not sure when the Grand Opera House became simply the Grand Theatre, but it might have been sometime around 1928, when an organ was installed.>

That’s the organ that I own – installed 1928 – so I’m 98% sure this is the correct theater it was originally installed in.

I found a picture of the outside of the theater with “Grand” on the marquee.

http://www.mjcpl.org/photos/items/show/44

musicformovies
musicformovies on September 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Information from the same photo collection – Listed the Wesley Methodist Chapel as being built in 1831 and then the building being ‘reconstructed’ for use as the Grand Opera House in 1885.

http://www.mjcpl.org/photos/items/show/86

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2010 at 1:43 am

MfM: Thanks for the link to the church page. I somehow missed that one when I was looking at the collection the other night. I was sure that the Grand Opera House’s facade had to date from no later than the 1880s.

musicformovies
musicformovies on February 16, 2011 at 6:32 am

Joe, do you have any interior shots of this theatre by chance? Especially when it was the “Grand” Theatre? I’m looking for photos that show what the theatre looked like when the organ that I own was installed. Thanks. :)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

So far the only photos of the Madison Theatre I’ve seen are those already linked here. There undoubtedly are interior photos in existence, but if any are available on the Internet I’ve been unable to find them. Your best bet would probably be to contact the Jefferson County Historical Society (this page of their web site says that their research library is closed through the end of February and they won’t be able to respond to inquiries until it reopens.)

They don’t have a photo exhibit online, but the information page about their photograph collections says that over 4,000 images have been scanned and are available for viewing in their library. It’s possible that an interior shot of the Grand is among them.

There’s a digital catalog, but it isn’t available online either. You can contact the historical society (use the “Contact Us” link found at the bottom of each page of their web site) and I’m sure they easily can check the catalog to see if a photo of the Grand is in the collection. If there is a digitized photo, they can make a print of it and ship it to you. They don’t have a price list on the web site so I have no idea how much that would cost.

musicformovies
musicformovies on February 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Thanks Joe – I’ll check with them in March. I’ll let you know if I able to obtain any interior shots if you are interested. Thanks :)

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