319 S. Michigan Street,
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South Bend Civic Theatre (Official)
Previous Names: Strand Theatre, Avon Art Theatre, Mall Theatre
I finally found some information on this old theatre after extensively searching the web and getting nowhere. By luck, I found mention of this theatre while going through the South Bend Civic Theatre’s website. It turns out that a downtown development firm called Downtown South Bend, Inc. owns the old Avon building and is either giving it or selling it to the South Bend Civic Theater group.
Sadly, it sounds like the South Bend Civic Theater group is going to raze the Avon Theater and build two new theatres on the spot including a little 100-150 seat theatre and a larger 300 seat theatre. At least they’re using the land for a theatre, though. I emailed the director of the South Bend Civic Theater group and he provided me with this information. I also learned from him that the Avon Theater does have a newer roof and one re-enforced side wall but that the interior is in lousy condition.
The Strand Theatre opened on May 12, 1926 with May McAvoy in “"The Road to Glory”. It was equipped with a Kimball organ. It was originally built as a movie house, was outfitted for sound in 1929. On October 12, 1949 it was renamed Avon Theater following refurbishment. On April 17, 1958 it was renamed Avon Art Theatre. On October 24, 1975 it was renamed the Mall Theatre. It ceased operations as a theatre on January 25, 1979. It remained vacant until November 2012, when it was demolished. The terra cotta façade was saved to be used in another building.
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