Indiana February 06, 2016
These 7 Small Theaters In Indiana Will Give You An Unforgettable Viewing Experience
Sure, you can head down to a giant multiplex theater to see a movie for $15 (not to mention the $20 in snacks and that one guy who
always sits in front of you and texts through the show), but why do that when there are so many fantastic, unique (and cheaper!) theaters in Indiana?
1. Fowler Theater (Fowler)
When the Fowler was opened in 1940, it was a state-of-the-art theater that attracted moviegoers from across the area (especially to see the fantastic modern neon!) and was one of the most technologically advanced in the country—it was one of only five theaters to premier Gone With The Wind! Despite its initial grandeur, the changing economy and the construction of much larger theaters in nearby cities left the theater with a smaller and smaller audience.
The building fell into disrepair and deteriorated quickly and, in 2001, was in danger of demolition. Karen Moyars and other volunteers formed the non-profit Prairie Preservation Guild to rescue and restore the historical theater. These days, the Fowler is operated entirely by volunteers, which keeps the cost of tickets only $5! Movies are shown every weekend and local businesses sponsor free movie nights several times a year.
From its Cinderella story to the awesome dedication of the Prairie Preservation Guild to restore the retro neon-and-chrome features, there really is no experience quite like a show at Fowler Theater.
2. Brokaw 1 & 2 Movie House (Angola)
This cool little Art Deco style theater is located in downtown Angola’s Public Square, right next door to another awesome historical theater, The Strand (see below). The Brokaw was opened in 1931 and was originally a giant single-screen movie house, but was split in two screens in 1990 to divide the space. It was restored in 2014 and now looks prettier than ever!
Better yet, during the remodel, the theater added a dining service that allows moviegoers to eat (and drink!) during certain shows. The movie house seats 200 people and is an awesome spot to catch both a dinner and a movie in one stop!
3. The Strand (Angola)
This awesome single-screen theater is seriously dedicated to their history. The Strand opened up in 1914, they have maintained their old-school 1920’s marquee, protected their 1940’s interior lights, and even their popcorn machine is a vintage 1958 model.
Walking into The Strand is like stepping back in time...and we love it. They show new release movies that you could go see at any ol’ theater, but why do that when you can have the extra-special experience of catching a flick (and a bit of nostalgia) at this little slice of history?
4. Historic Artcraft Theater
The Artcraft Theater, built in 1922, operated as a silent movie house and Vaudeville stage before transitioning into a full-time movie theater across a continuous 75-year run before closing in 2000 due to the popularity of more modern cinemas in the area. The non-profit Franklin Heritage, Inc. bought the vacant building in 2004 and began a huge fundraising campaign to renovate and restore this beautiful building.
The Artcraft Theater was originally built with a full orchestra pit and was one of the first theaters in the country with air conditioning (run by a swamp cooler!). The Artcraft went through several renovations during its 75 years of operation to keep up its fantastic Art Deco styling, and these days it looks better than ever, thanks to a state preservation grant given in 2006.
Today, the theater shows classic films bi-weekly and hosts a wide range of concerts and live performances. In 2015, Midwest Living magazine chose The Artcraft as one of the “4 Favorite Restored Small-Town Cinemas” and we fully support that honor; this is a seriously cool place to catch a show.
5. The Royal Theater (Danville)
The Royal Theater was built in 1927 and is Hendricks County’s oldest operating movie theater.
It might look “vintage” (and it is, in the best possible way) but The Royal plays current movies, has comfortable seats, and makes for a great, unique date night. The Royal does pay due respect to its history by saving one Thursday in each month for “Retro Thursdays,” where you can catch a classic.
The Royal doesn’t just play movies, either; the theater also serves as a venue for community events and even has a mascot, Combo the Popcorn Box (“corny”…but we kind of love it).
6. The Damm Theatre (Osgood)
“What should we do today?”… ”Lets just go to the Damm Theatre!”
The Theatre was opened in 1921, but didn’t get its awesome name until a year later, when it was purchased by Louis Damm (who also opened a dance hall on the second floor!) The venue has been used for both community events and first-run movies since before there were “talkies”! The Damm Family owned the theater up until 1989 and had kept the place preserved it all its red-velvet, gas-lamp glory. The theater closed down for general renovations and to replace the damaged marquee, but reopened again in 2008 to play movies on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
We love supporting these small-town movie houses, and for only $6, you can catch a big release for a small price!
7. The Historic Tivoli Theater (Spencer)
This beautifully designed Mission Revival theater was originally built for silent movies and shows. The Tivoli quickly made the conversion to host more modern “talkies.” The theater changed hands a few times and consistent renovations kept the stage up to date until a pair of fires damaged the building in the 1980s and struggled to operate until finally closing in 1999. After more than 14 years of vacancy and deterioration, The Tivoli Theater the purchased and restored by the Cook Group, Inc. and opened again for business in 2013.
When the Tivoli Theater opened on New Years Eve 1928, it hosted the world premier of the movie Shopworn Angel for more than 1,200 people during its two-show opening weekend. It was so successful that local newspapers reported that the brand new theater had received numerous letters and telegrams from the movie’s stars and many other big Hollywood names to congratulate them.
The renovations kept with the classic architecture, but one of the new additions—a midnight blue ceiling dotted with sparkling fiber optic constellations—makes the atmosphere at the Historic Tivoli Theater truly special. The theater has new all-digital sound and projection equipment, and they show the same modern movies you would find at any Cineplex…but admission here is only $5, which is worth it just to see the building alone.
There’s something especially awesome about seeing a modern movie in a classic theater house…it’s just so
cozy. With prices typically far below those found at the bigger box offices, we think these little theaters are a great way to support small communities and keep a slice of the glamorous old-Hollywood history alive.
Did you grow up going to any of these cool little movie houses? Does your town have one that we left off of the list? Tell us about it in the Comments section below!