Every downtown had one. They were grand old opera houses and movie palaces, built in the bustle of the city center. In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, these venues served as the heart of entertainment in most communities. Such theaters were great places for first dates or for catching the newest flick. Sadly, these historic treasures have begun to fade away. The creation of “talkies” signaled the demise of opera houses. Either demolished or adapted for a new use, the opera house has disappeared from our downtown landscape.
The heyday of the single screen theaters has also waned, because they were unable to compete with the multi-screen, big box theaters. Most single screen theaters have ceased their cinematographic functions, becoming venues for other uses. In many cases, owners have stripped the equipment, leaving just the shell of a building.
In 1946, moviegoers could choose from 155 drive-in theaters across the United States. By 1948, that number had boomed to 820, and in 1958, it peaked at an astonishing 5,000 total theaters across the United States. Despite our fascination with cars, even the drive-in theaters have largely been unable to survive.
Discover Indiana invites you to take a journey across the 19th state and learn the stories of a variety of theaters and how they weave into the narrative of Hoosier entertainment!
Please keep in mind that each tour is by no means a comprehensive list of sites in Indiana related to each theme. Please be respectful of private property lines when visiting each of these sites.