Indiana Theatre

136 W. Washington Street,
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Petronius2
Petronius2 on September 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Anybody who, like me, first saw “2001: A Space Odyssey” in Cinerama at the Indiana Theater, on its first release in 1968, will certainly never forget the experience. Some films are made IN Cinerama, but that one seemed to be made FOR Cinerama. It’s just not the same on a regular screen, and without the fine resolution of a good 70mm print. I was still in high school and was just blown away by the stunning artistry. I ended up seeing it, what, five times at the Indiana? Six times? Seven or more? A whole lot of times. Unforgettable.

A

Also

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on April 24, 2010 at 11:44 am

Click here for a photograph of the Indiana Theatre taken in 1930 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto & Mann.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Photos of the Indiana Theatre in its current state. Some are very nice. Others, such as the apparent leopard spot carpeting in one of the lounges, not so much:

View link

To view click on the second tab marked “Photos”.

busswt
busswt on October 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm

The organ is now at the Warren Performing Arts Center. Here it play here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfXKz8g04Fg

See still pictures here: View link

I am still in disbelief that the auditorium of the theatre was ruined by the IRT remodel. I remember seeing the orchestra lift operate during a closed ATOS meeting one Sunday morning years ago. A Thomas Theatre Organ was played by Kenny Jagger. I read above that the lift mechanism was trashed. What a tragedy!!

JohnMLauter
JohnMLauter on June 6, 2009 at 11:50 am

The Indiana was always Known as the Indiana theatre, the name “Publix” refers to the Paramount-Publix franchise, which this theatre was a part of. This was before the federal government anti-trust action, which eneded the studios' ability to own the theatres in which their products were shown. Several theatres in Detroit were Publix houses, the local franchise there was owned by the Kunsky chain. Another local firm in Indy no doubt held the franchise for that city/area.

Wulfe51
Wulfe51 on June 6, 2009 at 8:54 am

Are you certain of the 6/26/68 date for the showing of 2001? My recollection is of an autumn release…I seem to recall that school was still in session when I took the bus down there to see it.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 3, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Shouldn’t there be an aka of Publix, based on the photos posted on 8/8 and 12/18?

Here is a 1927 photo. You can see the Capitol a few doors down on Washington Street:
http://tinyurl.com/2qh3yq

tomdelay
tomdelay on December 18, 2007 at 11:04 am

And it is a shame the auditorium interior was not preserved as well as the rest of the building.

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 8, 2007 at 9:31 pm

On the west facing brickwall—toward the State House—used to say:

Indiana Theatre
A Publix Theatre

That wall is now covered by the modern structure built in the last 15-20 years. Somewhere I have a photo of this.

Ron3853
Ron3853 on January 11, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Films which played at the Indiana Theater from October 1, 1961 through December 31, 1975. The Indiana went from being an elite Cinerama road-show house to showing almost every blaxploitation and kung fu movie that came out, with a few soft-core sexploitation flicks as well. Sad. At least it is still with us.

09/27/61 Seven Wonders of the World
12/06/61 DARK
12/20/61 South Seas Adventure
04/25/62 Search for Paradise
06/06/62 Windjammer
08/15/62 The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
01/09/63 The Best of Cinerama
03/20/63 Mutiny on the Bounty
06/12/63 How the West Was Won
06/10/64 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
12/16/64 Circus World
03/10/65 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
04/14/65 The Greatest Story Ever Told
10/20/65 The Hallelujah Trail
12/22/65 Battle of the Bulge
04/06/66 The Agony and the Ecstasy
06/29/66 Khartoum
08/17/66 The Blue Max
11/09/66 The Bible
05/17/67 Grand Prix
11/08/67 Gone With the Wind
06/26/68 2001: A Space Odyssey
11/13/68 Ice Station Zebra
03/26/69 Ben-Hur
05/28/69 Hard Contract
06/04/69 The Longest Day
06/18/69 Doctor Zhivago
06/25/69 Che!
07/16/69 Krakatoa, East of Java
09/03/69 Slaves
09/17/69 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly/Hang ‘Em High
09/24/69 Young Billy Young
10/15/69 Alice’s Restaurant
11/19/69 The Libertine
12/03/69 Good Morning and Goodbye
12/17/69 Goodbye, Mr. Chips
03/04/70 Patton
06/24/70 Cotton Comes to Harlem
08/05/70 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
09/09/70 Count Yorga, Vampire
09/16/70 The Landlord
09/23/70 Watermelon Man
10/14/70 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
11/11/70 a.k.a. Cassius Clay
11/25/70 The McKenzie Break
12/02/70 Whirlpool
12/16/70 Guess who’s Coming to Dinner/To Sir, With Love
12/23/70 Tora! Tora! Tora!
02/10/71 Cromwell
02/24/71 Kama Sutra
03/17/71 His Wife’s Habit
04/07/71 Horror of Frankenstein/Scars of Dracula
04/14/71 Threesome
04/21/71 Groupies/Greetings
04/28/71 The Stewardesses
06/30/71 Escape from the Planet of the Apes
07/14/71 Lawman
07/21/71 Von Richthofen and Brown
07/28/71 The Seven Minutes
08/04/71 A Town Called Hell
08/11/71 The Hunting Party
08/18/71 Big Doll House
08/25/71 Shaft
09/08/71 Daughters of Darkness/The Witchmaker
09/15/71 Soul to Soul
09/29/71 Jennifer on My Mind
10/06/71 Poor White Trash/Shame
10/13/71 See No Evil
10/20/71 The Bus is Coming
10/27/71 2001: A Space Odyssey
11/03/71 Gone With the Wind
11/10/71 Doctor Zhivago
11/17/71 The French Connection
12/15/71 Ryan’s Daughter
12/22/71 Diamonds are Forever
02/02/72 Honky
02/16/72 Willard/ The House That Dripped Blood
02/23/72 Summer of '42/Klute
03/08/72 Lady Frankenstein/Scream of Demon Lover/Velvet Vampire
03/15/72 Doctor Zhivago
03/29/72 Georgia, Georgia
04/26/72 The Concert for Bangladesh
05/10/72 Buck and the Preacher
05/24/72 The Legend of Nigger Charley
06/28/72 Shaft’s Big Score
07/12/72 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
07/26/72 Come Back, Charleston Blue
08/23/72 Super Fly
11/15/72 Trouble Man
11/22/72 Maniacs are Loose
12/20/72 Hit Man
01/24/73 Across 110th Street
02/14/73 Black Gunn
02/28/73 Savage
03/14/73 3D of Greta
03/21/73 The Harder They Come
04/04/73 Trick Baby
04/11/73 What Became of Jack & Jill/Strange Vengeance of Rosalie
04/18/73 Mean Mother
04/25/73 The Young Charmers
05/02/73 Theater of Blood
05/09/73 The Mack
05/23/73 Wattstax
06/13/73 Super Fly TNT
06/27/73 Duel of the Iron Fist
07/04/73 Invasion of the Bee Girls
07/11/73 Scream, Blacula, Scream
07/18/73 And Now the Screaming Starts
07/25/73 Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off
08/01/73 Cleopatra Jones
09/12/73 Fists of the Double K
09/19/73 Gordon’s War
10/03/73 Blackenstein
11/07/73 The Black Six
11/21/73 Coffy/The Mack
12/12/73 The Karate Killer/Duel of the Iron Fist
12/19/73 That Man Bolt
01/16/74 Black Belt Jones
02/06/74 The Dragon’s Vengeance
02/13/74 Sugar Hill
02/27/74 Willie Dynamite
03/20/74 Super Fly/Cleopatra Jones
03/27/74 Crazy Joe
04/03/74 Dragon Lady04/10/74 Foxy Brown
05/01/74 Chinese Hercules
05/08/74 Black Eye
05/22/74 The Take
06/05/74 Sting of the Dragon Masters
06/12/74 The Lightning Swords of Death
06/19/74 Policewoman/Superchick
06/26/74 The Dynamite Brothers
07/03/74 Truck Turner
07/24/74 The Chinese Godfather
08/07/74 The Education of Sonny Carson
08/21/74 Black Samson
09/04/74 Kung Fu Mama
09/11/74 Walking Tall
09/25/74 Forced to Fight
10/02/74 The Steel Edge of Revenge
10/09/74 Amazing Grace
10/23/74 Foxy Brown/Truck Turner
11/06/74 Superspook
11/13/74 Brothers and Sisters in Concert
11/20/74 Enter the Dragon/Black Belt Jones
12/11/74 Terror Circus
12/25/74 Abby
01/22/75 Black Boss (Boss Nigger)
02/12/75 Bogard
02/26/75 The Black Hooker
03/12/75 Revolt of the Dragon/The Dragon’s Vengeance
03/26/75 Sheba, Baby
04/02/75 Super Man Chu
04/16/75 Impulse
04/30/75 The Dragon Squad
05/07/75 The House on Skull Mountain/The Dragon Strikes Back
05/14/75 Challenge of the Dragon/Together Brothers
05/21/75 Cornbread, Earl, and Me
05/28/75 Candy Tangerine Man
06/04/75 Dolemite
06/25/75 Cooley High
07/02/75 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/The Reutrn of the Dragon
07/16/75 Death Race 2000
07/23/75 Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
08/06/75 Bucktown
08/20/75 Darktown Strutters
08/27/75 The Dragon Flies
09/03/75 Enter the Dragon
09/17/75 Bruce Lee and I/Seven Blows of the Dragon
10/01/75 Return of the Street Fighter
10/08/75 Black Brother, Black Sister
10/15/75 Let’s Do It Again
12/03/75 Shanghai Joe
12/10/75 Return of the Panther/The Dragon Squad
12/24/75 Friday Foster

Ron3853
Ron3853 on January 11, 2007 at 11:08 am

Films which played at the Indiana Theater from December 16, 1959 through December 31, 1960.

12/16/59 1001 Arabian Nights/The Flying Fontaines
12/23/59 Journey to the Center of the Earth
01/27/60 Goliath and the Barbarians
02/10/60 The Tingler
02/17/60 Jack the Ripper/The Big Night
02/24/60 Sink the Bismarck
03/02/60 Toby Tyler
03/23/60 The Warrior and the Slave Girl/Yesterday’s Enemy
03/30/60 Samson and Delilah/Ulysses
04/06/60 Kidnapped
04/13/60 The Snow Queen/Circus Stars
04/20/60 The Purple Gang/Atomic Submarine
04/27/60 Cell Block 2455/Escape from San Quentin
05/04/60 Guns of the Timberland/The Rise & Fall of Legs Diamond
05/11/60 The Angry Red Planet/13 Fighting Men
05/18/60 Killers of Kilimanjaro/Comanche Station
05/25/60 The Cossacks/Four Fast Guns
06/01/60 The Greatest Show on Earth
06/08/60 Ma Barker
06/15/60 Hannibal/In the Wake of a Stranger
06/22/60 The Stranglers of Bombay/The Electronic Monster
06/29/60 Circus of Horrors/The Transparent Man
07/06/60 The Bellboy/Hoppity Goes to Town
07/20/60 Hercules Unchained/Tarzan the Magnificent
08/03/60 The Lost World/Miracle of the Hills
08/10/60 Stop! Look! Laugh!/My Dog Buddy
08/17/60 College Confidential/Between Time and Eternity
08/24/60 13 Ghosts/Murder Reported
09/07/60 DARK
09/28/60 This is Cinerama

tomdelay
tomdelay on March 20, 2005 at 12:06 am

Error! I was NOT in the Indiana in 1977! I was in the theatre in July of 1972 while the house was still in operation. The organ was removed in 1977 or so.

tomdelay
tomdelay on March 19, 2005 at 11:58 pm

Cheers to John Lauter’s remarks above. I took a self-guided tour of the Indiana (with the blessings of the manager)in 1977. The Barton organ was still in-place. The magnificent auditorium was intact save for the obese Cinerama screen chewing up the front of the auditorium (and its three booths).

Thankfully citizens in Indianapolis raised holy terror when it was discovered what IRT was about to do to the Indiana. An organization called STOPS (Save the ornamental plaster) at least managed to get most of the auditorium plaster saved.

I was again in the theatre a few years ago during an ATOS Convention in Indianapolis. The lobby and ballroom are magnificent. The one-of-a-kind auditorium is a ghost of its former self. The auditorium'sorgan screens and urns are painted flat black and reside in what is now a back stage area. The original stage is used for stage shops.

Perhaps Mr. Arland does disagree with what John Lauter said above. And quite likely, as a 3200 seat theatre, the Indiana might have been too large for what was going to be going on in its future, but what a crime the “flavor” of the original auditorium could not have been left alone—even if the original balcony was removed.

I was so glad to be able to see the Indiana before the butcher’s knife was taken to the auditorium. In 1930 or so, my father saw Phil Harris perform on the Indiana’s once large stage. That was an experience he never forgot.

I will never forget the experience of being taken on a tour of this theatre circa 2001 and being greatly saddened to the lack of interest in preserving the auditorium other than leaving the remnants of ornamental plaster sticking up here and there. I guess we should be happy for that. Perhaps someday, IRT will want a new shining steel and glass structure, leaving the Indiana and perhaps allowing the Indiana to be restored to what it once was a give the downtown a restored gem in keeping with its lobby and ballroom.

arland
arland on March 19, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Information in this posting, and my previous posting, comes from the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. The Indiana Theatre was the first in the state to adopt stereo sound, Panavision, 3-D Projection, closed-circuit TV, and Cinerama. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

arland
arland on March 19, 2005 at 6:56 pm

Built in 1927 by the same firm that constructed the Circle Theater (the other “movie palace” in Indianapolis) the Indiana was designed in the Spanish baroque style by local architectural firm RUBUSH AND HUNTER. The exterior terra cotta and marble facade was designed by sculptor Alexander Sangernebo, with interior details by Joseph Wollenberg. The entrance lobby features travertine marble and a Rookwood tile fountain (and was recently restored to its 1927 condition.) Originally, the Indiana contained the 3,200 seat auditorium, a luncheonette, soda fountain, bowling alley in the basement (now offices), and candy, tobacco, and barber shops. The most stunning feature is the sixth floor Indiana Roof Ballroom, which was restored in 1986 after a $6 million renovation. Designed to resemble an oval-shaped Spanish town, the Indiana Roof is used frequently for conventions, concerts, and dances (www.indianaroof.com) The Indiana Theatre closed in 1975 (shortly after I saw the film “1776” there) and it could have faced the wrecking ball if not for the effort to both save the building and create a permanent home for the Indiana Repertory Theatre. While a two-year renovation did split the massive theatre into three stages (Mainstage, Upper Stage, and Cabaret), the complex is a vital and living theatre complex today thanks to the renovation. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Lauter’s comment. Had she been left as a 3,200 seat theatre, she never would have survived.

boxstermike
boxstermike on January 14, 2005 at 8:55 pm

My parents took me to see the re-release of Ben Hur around 1967 at the Indiana. I have very few memories of great theaters. Indiana was one of them. I was amazed at the architecture when I came in and I still remember to this day the intermission with orange juice served in plastic containers shaped like an orange. The statues, drapes, chairs – it was very magical. It was a beautiful experience.

It should be restored to its original grandeur!

johnlauter
johnlauter on January 14, 2005 at 12:25 am

Now this is a travesty on par with the gutting of the Michigan in Detroit. The amateur Thee-ahhh-tahhh wonks who did this should have put up a bunch of metal studs and drywall in some old warehouse, painted it black, put in some seats, hang lighting instruments everywhere and called it good rather than what they did to the Indiana. I drove by during the carnage, and was appalled to see the wonderful Peter Clark pit lift mechanisims torn out, laying on the ground, about to converted into $17/ton scrap. I hope there is a special community theater in Hell for these folks, and they have to rehearse and perform Rogers and Hammerstein for eternity.

estoner
estoner on January 6, 2005 at 7:56 am

I’ve worked on some live events in the last few years at the Indiana. We were able to get a look behind the plain black walls of the existing theater space to see that the statues of conquistadores are still intact. In fact, the rehersal area above and behind the current stage has elements of the spanish decorations actually sticking up from the new floor along the wall!

buffettpdog
buffettpdog on June 22, 2004 at 9:33 am

Thankfully the ballroom is still intact and lovely as ever. It has a spanish courtyard feel with stars and clouds moving across the sky(ceiling). The dance floor is built on springs to reduce fatigue on the legs.

mattyb77
mattyb77 on April 22, 2004 at 11:14 pm

My grandfather came to Indianapolis from Kentucky when he was a young man back in the 1920’s. His first job, as far as I know, was as an usher in the Indiana theatre. As as I understand, he got the job because he was able to fit in to the uniform.

I also remember my grandmother speaking fondly of the Indiana Roof Ballroom, specifically mentioning the stars on the ceiling. The stars were still there when I was in the ballroom as a teenager. (I’m now 27 years old.)

Dejael
Dejael on December 15, 2002 at 2:29 am

My Dad went to see “IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD” in CINERAMA at this theater in the summer of 1963 when he returned to Indy on vacation from our home in Los Angeles. He said it was the same theater he had seen Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney live in person doing a personal appearance 20 years before in 1943 to promote their movie “GIRL CRAZY”. He was home on temporary leave from WW II and was happy to have some real Hollywood stars to brighten up his life.

mansorama
mansorama on July 28, 2001 at 6:40 am

3-strip Cinerama installed from 27 Sept 1960 to 31 May 1964.70mm Cinerama from 10 June 1964.120 degree curved screen 67ft x 25 ft.