59 E. Washington Street,
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Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Switow's Dream Theatre, Grace Theatre
Switow’s Dream Theatre opened in 1914. It had a balcony and as well as movies it presented live performances on its stage. It was remodelled in 1927 and was renamed Grace Theatre. It had 350 seats. Around 1934 it had been renamed Indiana Theatre and the seating capacity had been increased to 600. It was severely damaged by a fire in September 1939.
Repairs were carried out and the theatre was given an Art Deco style, reopening on March 26, 1940 with Fred Astaire in “Broadway Melody of 1940”. It was closed in 1978 following another fire. The building was remodelled into a Super Sports Supply shop in 1979. The building still stands in retail use.
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The photo dates from the time just after the fire when the facade was in an Art Deco mode using cream and maroon tiles.
This theater was built by Michael A. Switow, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, who lived in Shelbyville. He converted his candy store into the first Dream Theatre after seeing a movie in Chicago. He and his family eventually owned over 40 theaters, and this must have been an early addition.
The 1916 map calls it ‘The Grace’, and gives a capacity of 500. The building then had shallow one-story section at the front. This had a wide entry flanked by narrow retail spaces, one of which is the obligatory barber. The auditorium is covered by a peaked roof, and there is a fly tower at the rear. The whole was built in brick. It’s possible that some of the rear of the structure dates to the original theater, since the brick is a different color on the front.
After the blaze caught the Indiana Theatre that September of 1939, the theater was rebuilt and the theater reopened on March 26, 1940 with “Broadway Melody Of 1940”.