Grand Theatre

224 W. Pearl Street,
Union City, IN 47390

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Additional Info

Styles: Italian Renaissance

Previous Names: Cadwallader Theatre, Union Grand Theatre

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One of two theatres (the other being the Miami Theatre) on W. Pearl Street. The 900-seat Grand Theatre opened on December 23, 1892 as the Cadwallader Theatre (aka Pythian Opera House), later the Union Grand Theatre, and finally the Grand Theatre. The theatre once hosted vaudeville, including such performers as varied as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and W.C. Fields.

The Grand Theatre showed first run films until it closed circa 1968, at which time the theatre portion of the building was demolished. The storefront of the building continued to house businesses, while the upstairs dressing rooms were turned into apartments.

In 2002, an accidental fire in one of the upstairs apartments destroyed the building.

Contributed by Mike Hylton

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The Grand Theatre was at 224 W. Pearl Street. The 1909 Cahn guide listed the Union Grand Theatre with 900 seats and a stage almost 70 feet wide.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The January 2, 1892, issue of The New York Clipper carried an announcement saying that the Pythian Opera House at Union City, Indiana, had opened on December 23 under the management of H. Cadwallader and F. H. Bowen.

The June 29, 1893, issue of the Monroeville, Indiana Breeze reported a major fire at Union City that had destroyed or damaged several buildings. The Pythian Opera House suffered a loss of $31,000.

The obituary of Charles Cadwallader in the February 24, 1944, issue of the Union City Times-Gazette included these lines:

“In the early 1890’s he rebuilt what is now the Grand Theater on Pearl street after it had been partially destroyed by fire. It had been called the Pythian Opera House, but he named it the Cadwallader Theater, which name it bore when the funeral services were held there for Governor Isaac P. Gray, another Union City resident, in February, 1895.”
A few lines about the opera house appeared in an article in the Winchester Journal of February 17, 1892. While the reporter was unstinting in his praise of the opera house, he could not forgo including a bit of snark about the newspapers in the rival city in which it was located:
“While at Union City between trains last Monday, a representative of this paper was shown through the new Pythian Opera House of that city, by the courtesy of Messrs J. F. Rubey and G. W. Patchell. We have no hesitancy in saying it is a gem, the finest building of the kind we have seen anywhere, and one that would be a credit to a city several times the size of Union City. Of course we had read descriptions of the building in the Union City papers; but they are so given to exaggerating everything in their town and abusing everything in Winchester, that neither ourselves or any body else believed what they said. However, this is the one time in their history that they told the truth—we don’t give them much credit for that, though, as the reality is so perfect that their vivid imaginations couldn’t create much more substantial or beautiful fixtures and furnishings. Seriously speaking, we don’t blame the citizens of the State Line town for being proud of the handsome structure. It is complete in every particular and tastefully furnished throughout. The stage is a very large one, capable of seating two hundred persons comfortably, while the auditorium and gallery will seat six or eight hundred more. The building is modern throughout, and contains besides a large and handsome banquet and dancing hall, a fine lodge room with all the necessary reception, property. and committee rooms, it is lighted with incandescent and arc electric lights, and must present a very fine appearance when lighted up. The Congressional Convention of this District will be held in this building, on the 21st of April, and we can assure all who may attend that they will be comfortably and elegantly provided for.”

SethG on July 23, 2020 at 5:22 pm

I’m not sure why this is described as being small. The theater was huge, or at least the structure was. It was three stories tall, fairly wide, and ran the entire depth of the lot to the alley. The auditorium and stage were about 2/3 of that depth. An elaborately curved balcony, rather like a lyre in shape, appears up to the 1940 map (when it is noted that the rear wall is cracked). There was a long, wide central hallway leading between two storefronts to what appears to be a two-story lobby. The upper two floors of the front section were variously used as a hotel, offices, apartments, and a fraternal hall.

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