Lawrence Theatre

53 N. 8th Street,
Richmond, IN 47374

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Additional Info

Architects: Oscar Cobb

Firms: Yost & Packard

Previous Names: Gennett Theatre, Washington Theatre

Nearby Theaters

GENNETT Theatre, Richmond, Indiana

The Gennett Theatre was built in 1899 at N. 8th Street and N. A Street on the site of the Bradley Theatre which had burned down in 1898. It opened December 22, 1899 as a live theatre presenting “The Liars” performed by Otis Skinner & Company. The Gennett Theatre was remodeled reopening September 16, 1916 to become a movie house known as the Washington Theatre.

It became the Lawrence Theatre from October 14, 1926 reverting back to live theatre use. The theatre was closed in February 1931 and was razed in 1935. It was replaced by a gas station, which today serves as a real estate office.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Broan on November 10, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Richmond Ind Oscar Cobb of Chicago is preparing plans for a $25.000 theater to be erected on the site of the Bradley opera house Stone; an Illustrated Magazine

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 7, 2012 at 1:39 am

The September 9, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had an item about the Washington Theatre:

“Richmond, Ind.—A new theater, to be known as the Washington, will be opened in Richmond within the next few weeks. The men who are back of the project are Dr. Charles E. Duffln, H. H. Englebert and Clarence Finney. Roy Parks, who recently severed his connections with the Arcade theater, probably will manage the new house.”
The house was remodeled and converted to movies before being renamed the Washington, though. The March 18, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had said that the remodeled and redecorated Gennett Theatre in Richmond had reopened with “Birth of a Nation” as its first attraction.

Until the exact address can be found, the location of this theater should be changed to N. 8th and N. A Streets (the theater faced 8th Street, but the real estate office now on the site uses an A Street address.) Richmond has multiple streets of the same number and letter, with the result that Google Maps is putting the pin icon at NW A Street and NW 8th Street, over a mile west of the theater’s actual location. I’ve updated Street View to the correct location, but the map pin is currently still at the wrong spot.

AndrewBarrett on January 28, 2015 at 4:16 pm

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by Mr. David Junchen, pg. 629, the “Washington Th.” in Richmond, Indiana, had a two-manual Smith organ installed at some point.

No further information, such as size of the instrument (# of pipe ranks), install date, blower info, or nameplate (Seeburg-Smith, Smith, Smith-Geneva, etc) is available in the book (not known at the time of publication).

I know this is is a long shot, given that this building was torn down in 1935 in the height of the great depression, when theatre pipe organs were considered most useless and most unwanted in most parts of the US, (and thus it’s likely the organ went down with the building), but does anybody know what happened to this organ, and where it, or its parts, is/are today? Could it have been moved to a church in the greater Richmond area?

Thanks a lot,

dallasmovietheaters on January 14, 2017 at 4:02 am

The local paper said that the architectural plans were drawn by Yost & Packard of Dayton in 1899

dallasmovietheaters on January 14, 2017 at 4:29 am

Grand opening as the Gennett Theatre was December 22, 1899 with Otis Skinner and Company doing the live play, “The Liars.” On September 16, 1916, it relaunched as the Washington Theatre with the film, “Undine” and booking legitimate theatre in 1917. On October 14, 1926, it rebooted as the Lawrence Theatre doing live legit performances. For all intense and purpose, the Lawrence closed in February of 1931 as a legit house. Some rehearsals and high school shows occur until 1933. A demolition sale in October of 1935 preceded its demolition in November of 1935.

rivest266 on February 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm

December 22nd, 1899 grand opening ad in the photo section

rivest266 on February 12, 2017 at 3:25 pm

September 15th, 1916 grand opening as Washington in the photo section.

SethG on April 13, 2021 at 10:41 am

The address was 53 N 8th. Strangely, the 1901 Sanborn shows the Gennett Opera House to be nearly identical to the Grand Opera House shown on earlier maps. I think ‘burned down’ did not really reflect what happened.

The 1909 map shows an extensive interior remodel of what is now called the Gennett Theatre. The ground floor storefronts appear to have been removed, and the balcony is now a large ‘horse collar’ shape rather than the previous flared ‘U’. The front of the stage appears to have been straightened. The notes say that it has two balconies, and give the capacity as 900.

It is on the 1909 map that a three story building at the rear appears, with the first floor serving as offices and prop storage, and the upper stories being labeled ‘Theatre Flats’. This portion of the building remains.

There was a later map, probably from the ‘20s, but the only copy online was heavily modified starting in 1937, with bits of paper pasted over buildings as they changed or were replaced. What can be seen through the overlays indicates that the capacity of the Washington was unchanged, although a more extensive metal canopy across the front replaced the small wooden canopy seen in the postcard.

SethG on April 13, 2021 at 3:46 pm

Should we really use the Lawrence name as the ID, considering that it stopped showing movies before being renamed?

The 1905-6 Cahn guide gives it a capacity of 1,200.

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