Crystal Theatre

314 Pearl Street,
New Albany, IN 47150

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

The building says “19-SWITOW-14” on the parapet. I suppose it’s possible that Mr. Switow was just commemorating his remodeling of an existing building, and locals have assumed that the date refers to its original construction. But then the facade of the Switow Building is plainer than those of the clearly Victorian buildings flanking it, and 1913 is the last year I’ve found the Crystal Theatre mentioned in the trade publications, so the building certainly could date from 1914.

In 1911, Michael Switow was operating three theaters at New Albany; the Grand, the Crystal, and a house called the Victoria. He also had two theaters in Jeffersonville and one in Louisville, with a second Louisville house under construction that summer.

In the early 1910s, New Albany also had theaters called the Lyric and the Hippodrome, the latter being the old opera house renamed. There might have been others, but I haven’t found any yet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 4, 2014 at 10:00 am

If Michael Switow actually demolished the Crystal Theatre building in 1914, he must have regretted the expense he’d gone to of fixing up the theater in late 1913, as he was reported to have been doing by the November 29 issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Switow’s Crystal Theatre, in New Albany, was closed down all last week for repairs, remodeling, and re-decoration. The house will be practically new when the work is completed, which is expected to be within a short time.”
The Switow Amusement Company itself had opened the 1,000-seat New Grand Theatre earlier that month, the Kerrigan Theatre had opened the same year, and there were other movie theaters operating in New Albany and in nearby Jeffersonville. In renovating and reopening the Crystal, Mr. Switow might have overestimated the demand for entertainment in New Albany.