Morris Performing Arts Center

211 N. Michigan Street,
South Bend, IN 46601

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Morris Performing Arts Center, South Bend, IN

Built on par with theaters in much larger cities, the Palace Theater was the location for vaudeville, movies, dancing and more for 37 years. It opened on November 2, 1922 with Mary Miles Minter in “The Cowboy and the Lady” on the screen plus Orpheum vaudeville on the stage. It had 2,665 seats.

Faced with declining numbers, the Palace Theater closed in 1959. E. M. Morris then saved the classic theater from destruction and helped reopen it as a performing arts center. The center was named for her.

After years of continued use, the Morris has been undergoing recent renovations. When restoration is completed, the structure, which includes the theater, lobby, and plaza, will return the Morris to its palatial roots.

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Patsy on July 20, 2007 at 1:47 am

Any interior photos?

jimvid on December 10, 2008 at 5:41 pm

here are few recent photos:
View link

Sontaran6 on December 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Cinema Treasures should cross-list the Morris under the name “Palace Theatre”, which is the name by which many old-timers remember it. I know there are gazillions of other “Palace” theaters listed under that name, but that’s precisely why it is frustrating to dig through the whole pile without finding South Bend’s “Palace”.

Sontaran6 on February 14, 2009 at 1:09 am

Seven weeks later, the Morris still hasn’t been cross-listed with the other 367 “Palace” theaters, where most old-timers will look for it. Too bad!

GeorgeStrum on March 14, 2010 at 12:13 am

THS will be visiting here the week of 6/22/10-6/29/10.

sam siklas
sam siklas on November 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Not only is the Morris renovation complete, but the adjoining Palais Royale ballroom has been fully restored. It is used frequently, including a New Years Eve. gala every year.

sam siklas
sam siklas on May 1, 2012 at 3:45 am

In it’s time as the Palace theater, this theater is one of 3 theaters in South Bend which shared the premier of “Knute Rockne All American”. The Granada theater directly across the street from the Palace, and the Colfax theater, located around the corner from the Palace on W. Colfax were the other two. A fourth theater to house the films' premier was the Fox theater in Philadelphia,( as mentioned in the Cinema Treasures article on that theater). The Morris is the only one of the four to survive today.

Erasmus on June 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

In the 50s and 60s, each South Bend theater seemed to specialize in a particular kind of film. The Granada was for the serious grown-up movies and epics, like the Ten Commandments. The Palace ran all of the horror films and some of the teenage movies. The Palace and the State both ran Saturday morning kids’ cartoon shows that cost about a quarter to get into. The State ran a lot of Westerns. The Colfax ran Jerry Lewis, Doris Day, etc. The River Park did a lot of second-run movies so that you could see them when you missed them the first time. And the Avon ran soft porn and art films. The drive-ins showed all kinds of schlock, since few members of the audience cared what was on the screen.

kevyzim on July 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I have many fond memories of seeing a lot of ‘up and coming’ rock bands play at the Morris Civic Auditorium (as it was called then) in the early 70’s, including Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Bloodrock, Black Oak Arkansas, Alice Cooper, Foghat and Van Halen. I have not been inside since the recent renovations, but I am glad to see that South Bend has had the reverence for this grand old theater and that it is still being used for performances today.

gill on March 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm

There is an excellent 1928 photo of The Palace Theatre on the Theatre’s page. Here’s a link to the page.

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