5th Avenue Theatre
1313 West 5th Avenue,
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One of two theatres on Gary, Indiana’s West side, this was the smaller. Opened August 20, 1942, the architect was Erwin G. Fredrick of Chicago.
Living half a block from the theatre, as a child I attended the 5th Avenue Theatre often from its opening, until its closing in July 1956. I recall the theatre being very modest in design and had seats located one the main floor, with no balcony. It did have very large screen, and a small (apparently never used) stage in front of the screen. Until 1953 the 5th Avenue Theatre played minor first run movies, including considerable British fare. It was the first theatre in Gary to present a 3-D movie (Stereo Techniques of 3-Dimension Motion Pictures), in March 1953, beating out both the big downtown Gary Palace and State Theatres.
In 1953 the 5th Avenue Theatre stated playing a higher grade of first run features including “War of the Worlds”, “Invaders From Mars”, and “Men of the Fighting Lady”, as well as numerous high end reissues such as “Sampson and Delilah”, “Sands of Iwo Jima”, and “Anchors Aweigh”. The 5th Avenue Theatre also ran a number of Ma and Pa Kettle and Abbott and Costello features.
In November 1954, the theatre closed for remodeling. A new wide screen was installed and the lobby and concession area given a complete makeover. The concession area took on a bright and very attractive tone. The theatre re-opened Thanksgiving Day, 1954.
Beginning in 1955 the 5th Avenue Theatre dropped much of its first run fare, concentrating on reissues and sub-runs that had just played the downtown Palace Theatre and State Theatre. In 1956, mostly sub-runs ran until the theatre’s closing July 2nd of that year.
After closing, the auditorium was gutted and used as a distribution facility for Gary-Post Tribune newspapers.
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