Long Center for the Performing Arts

111 N. Sixth Street,
Lafayette, IN 47901

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Long Center for the Performing Arts, Lafayette, IN

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The Mars Theatre was built for the Luna Amusement Company and was designed by the Lafayette architectural firm of Nicol, Scholer & Hoffman. It was built by local contractor A. E. Kemmer and opened on the evening of April 19, 1921. The Ed. Wynn Musical Carnival performed the opening show, followed by the newly-formed Mars Orchestra. The theatre was used primarily for vaudeville, while the Luna Amusement Company’s other theatres (the Luna and Family Theatres ) showed moving pictures and vaudeville. In January, 1929, the Mars showed Lafayette’s first “talking” motion picture, a film called “On Trial”.

The Mars operated as a movie theater until 1977, when it was given to the city by the Dennis Long family. At that time it was renamed the Long Center for the Performing Arts. It became the home of the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, the Long Center Theatre Organ Society, and the Lafayette Ballet Company. The original Seeburg-Smith Unified organ was replaced by a more elaborate “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ. Despite heavy use by these and other prominent local groups, the Long Center continued to deteriorate.

In 1999, the building underwent a thorough restoration which brought the auditorium and other public spaces back to their 1921 appearance. This work was done by the renowned Conrad Schmidt Studios. An unsympathetic 1940s Art Deco marquee had replaced the original marquee and sign. These were replicated during the restoration, with the sign modified to read “Long” instead of “Mars” as the original did.

The Long Center is a critical facility which provides an appropriate environment for the performing arts. It is well worth visiting to see a show in such beautiful surroundings.

Contributed by Ben Ross

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

KenRoe
KenRoe on May 2, 2005 at 5:46 pm

The seating capacity of the Mars Theatre was 1,472, as listed in the 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 31, 2006 at 12:06 pm

Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1981

Mars Theatre (added 1981 – Building – #81000030)
Also known as Denis H. Long Center for the Performing Arts
111 N. 6th St., Lafayette
Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Event
Architect, builder, or engineer: Kemmer Construction Co., Nicol,Scholer, & Hoffman
Architectural Style: Other, Colonial Revival
Area of Significance: Performing Arts, Entertainment/Recreation, Architecture
Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1925-1949
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function: Theater

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 8, 2007 at 8:39 am

This is a photo of the Long Center.

Broan
Broan on October 6, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Recent photos of this theatre are HERE

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Here is a photo from 2003.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Here are two photos from 1976:

Photo1

Photo2

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