Colfax Theatre

213 W. Colfax Avenue,
South Bend, IN 46601

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Paramount Pictures Inc.

Architects: George W. Leslie Rapp

Firms: H.G. Christman & Co., Rapp & Rapp

Nearby Theaters

Colfax Theatre, South Bend, IN in 1929

This theatre was built as a vaudeville and movie house, opening on August 4, 1928 with May McAvoy in “The Lion and the Mouse”. With 2,100 seats, it was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ. By 1941 it was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc, through their subsidiary John Balaban. It was one of the first theatres in the United States to be built for sound films. It was accoustically a great theatre, but it was unfortunately demolished in 1994.

Contributed by Phil Patnaude

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Sontaran6 on June 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

There’s irony here. The Google Map picture topping this page shows the current South Bend Tribune building squatting on the site. The SBT demolished the lovely and historic Colfax Theatre, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, to put up its brick hulk. Sic transit gloria mundi….. Sigh!

Dana_62 on September 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I’d like to know if anyone rescued the projection equipment that was moved into the lobby before the place was demolished. There was a very old special effects machine amonst the pieces. It had a color wheel, glass slide transport(for announcements and sing-alongs) and a cloud tank.

sam siklas
sam siklas on December 15, 2011 at 12:22 am

The WurliTzer from the Colfax was sold in 1963 to Gunther H. Hille of Canfeild Ohio.He installed it in his home, and played it until he passed away. His family then donated it to the American Organ Institute, of the University Of Oklahoma, Norman,Ok. More information is available on their website . There are some photos of the console and pipes included in the article. == Sam ==

rivest266 on June 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

State of Indiana photo uploaded here.

kevyzim on July 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I grew up in Mishawaka/South Bend. I remember seeing “Earthquake” at the Colfax in 1974, probably shortly before it was closed for good. The movie was in “Sensurround” which meant that there were bass reflex speakers on the stage pounding out vibrating waves of sound which also loosened some plaster in the old theater’s ceiling! I remember thinking ‘Wow this is really realistic – I feel like the building is coming down!’

Though not quite the showplace that the Granada or State theaters were, I do remember the lobby of the Colfax as being quite cozy. I would love to see more pictures from the heyday if anyone has any.

Stanislaus on February 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm

I was employed from 73-76 at The Colfax and worked for Louie “Mr. Showman” Nye. I and several of my friends performed the grunt work for “Earthquake”. The ceiling had roof leaks and the water damaged plaster broke loose, I know I cleaned it up. Dana 62 I wasn’t there when the equipment was removed but the glass slides were piled on a 3 floor dressing room suite floor – very sad. The Colfax had 5 floors of dressing rooms, total of ten, 4 being suites. The building had water cooled air conditioning. I have pics I should dig up of the chandelier, house lighting, the statue of Minerva, the Grand Stairway with its double brass handrail. I loved this place. Towards the end it got a little campy with the lighting Nye installed. Seating fell into disrepair and we employed duct tape. I have some nickle popcorn boxes and beer bottles found in the balcony vomitory. I actually spent some of the best times in High School at the Colfax.

EdProjectionist on June 5, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I worked at the Colfax Theater as projectionist from 1973 to 1977 for Mr.Louis Nye and later for another company that tried (and failed) to run the theater. It was an old fashioned projection room with two Century projectors and carbon arcs. There were remnants of the older days like an old spotlight and a slide projector still in the booth. It also had a massive cooling fan for summers driven by a large fan belt the projectionist would have to turn on at the start of the day and off again at the end of the night. It was an interesting place.

Stanislaus on June 6, 2015 at 6:32 am

Well, hello Ed, you and your father both worked there I believe. I use to carry to cans up to the booth for you. Hope you are doing well.

nat1234 on October 2, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Stanislaus on Feb 26 you said you had pictures of the grand stairway at the colfax theatre. can you post it?

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