Grand Theatre

West Fifth Street at South Boots Street,
Marion, IN 46952

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

A Grand Theatre in Marion was the smaller of two houses listed for that city (the other was the Indiana Theatre) in the 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide. The Grand was a ground-floor house with over 700 seats. It the older of the two theaters as well, as I’ve found it mentioned as early as 1895. One later By 1916, when one magazine item referred to it as “…a ramshackle old place….”, it was being operated as a movie house with the name Royal Grand Theatre.

The August 6, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World reported that the operators of the Royal Grand, brother and sister Dolly and Howard Spurr, had been arrested for showing movies on Sunday in violation of a city ordinance. The August 19 issue reported that the Spurrs had been found guilty and had each been fined ten dollars, but were appealing the court’s decision.

This might or might not have been the same theater that was in operation as the Royal Grand in later years. The July 14, 1917, issue of The American Contractor said that preliminary plans were being drawn by architect H. G. Bowstead for a theater for the Royal Grand Realty Company of Marion, Indiana. I’ve been unable to discover if this project was carried out or, if it was, that it was the Royal Grand itself and not one of the other theaters in Marion that were operated by the Spurrs, but it’s possible that the orginal Grand was entirely replaced. The Music Trade Review said that the Royal Grand Theater Company would build a new theater on the site of the AME church on Fifth Street.

The November 8, 1919, issue of Motion Picture News published a letter from Dolly Spurr, who was by then operating the Lyric and Indiana Theatres as well as the Royal Grand. The letter mentioned that she was still unable to show movies on Sunday, so that battle was apparently lost.

The 1925 Yearbook of Motion Pictures lists a Marion Theatre Company operating five houses at Marion; the Luna Lite, Lyric, Indiana, Royal Grand, and Marion Theatres. The company also operated the Isis Theatre at Kokomo.

The January 2, 1925, issue of the Kokomo Tribune said that the Royal Grand Theatre at Marion had suffered $25,000 damage from a fire, most of the loss the result smoke and water which damaged the theater’s furnishings and decorations.

The Royal Grand Theatre is mentioned in the oral history of Milford Freeman, a Marionite who talked about growing up in the town in the 1930s and 1940s, so the house apparently operated into the 1940s, at least.