5142 S. Hohman Avenue,
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The Parthenon Theatre was opened on March 19, 1921, originally seating over 2,500, it was the second-largest of Hammond’s movie theaters, after the 3,000-plus seat State Theatre. It was originally operated as part of the Warner Brothers circuit, one of their earliest houses outside of California.
Opening night’s program several vaudeville and musical acts, a couple of film shorts, and the Douglas Fairbanks feature “The Nut”.
The luxurious and highly ornate neo-Italian Renaissance/Baroque style Parthenon Theatre quickly gained the nickname of “The Wonder Theatre”, not only screening the best first-run features with sound by 1927, but vaudeville into the 1930’s, many of the most famous big bands of the 1930’s and 1940’s, and celebrities such as Harry Houdini, Jack Benny and even Rin-Tin-Tin, the most famous canine star of Hollywood until Lassie.
The Parthenon Theatre’s spacious auditorium featured one of the earliest Hammond movie houses with unobstructed sight lines, thanks to its large reinforced steel and concrete balcony, which seated well over 1,200 alone. Its lobby spaces could fit more than 1,000 patrons, and all the Parthenon Theatre’s public areas were richly decorated, like a Renaissance era princely palace, and furnished with the finest artwork and furniture, including caged songbirds in the main lobby.
By the late-1960’s, and into the 1970’s, the Parthenon Theatre began to be used more for rock concerts than as a movie house, beginning in 1967, when Sonny and Cher appeared on stage to promote their movie “Good Times”. During the 1970’s, groups as diverse as KISS and Rush played at the Parthenon Theatre.
After closing in the early-1980’s, the longest-lasting of downtown Hammond’s great movie palaces was sadly demolished in 1983, and the site has remained an empty plot of land.
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