Ohio Theatre

105 E. Main Street,
Madison, IN 47250

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Affiliated Theaters Inc. (Indianapolis)

Functions: Live Performances, Movies (Classic)

Styles: Art Deco

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 812.624.1938

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News About This Theater

Ohio in 2010

Located in the small Ohio River town of Madison, Indiana. The site where the theatre sits first housed a nickelodeon in the early-1900’s, then a movie theatre called the Little Grand Theatre, which burned in 1937.

Rebuilt as the 1,018-seat Ohio Theatre in 1938 it was operated by H.H. Johnson Theatres who also operated the towns' Madison Theatre. By 1950 it was operated by Affiliated Theaters Inc. of Indianapolis, IN. It ran first run movies until it closed in 1993.

Renovated and reopened in 1996, the now-twinned Ohio Theatre continued to show mid-run family targeted movies (no R-rated films) and also operated as a venue for various live events throughout the year. It had a reduced seating capacity of 440 located in the former orchestra level and the second screen in the former balcony. It was closed by April 2016. It was taken over by the Friends of the Ohio Theatre and reopened.

In early-2018 fundraising began to restore & renovate the Ohio Theatre. There are 301 seats in the orchestra level and while renovations continue the former balcony auditorium is not in use. When completed, the balcony will become part of the main auditorium again.

Contributed by Tony Ratcliff

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 21, 2010 at 4:55 am

Here’s an item from The Moving Picture World of August 17, 1915:

“The Little Grand, Madison, Ind., has the white brick front about completed.”
In the first two of the photos Wallyum linked to above, white brick can be seen on the Ohio’s facade where some of the modern siding is missing. Face brick of that sort was no longer popular when the theater was rebuilt in 1938, so it is probably the original brick of 1915. The part of the side wall seen in the first photo is obviously pretty old, and is probably a common wall shared with the building next door. There’s probably a common wall on the other side as well. The auditorium can be seen in satellite photos to be wider than the entrance building.

The question is, was the Little Grand’s auditorium on the same footprint as the Ohio’s? If it was, chances are that the Ohio was built entirely inside the shell of the Little Grand after the fire. From what I’ve read here and at other web sites I’ve had the impression that the Ohio was entirely new construction, but it would have been very odd for that white brick facade to have been used on a building erected in 1938, so most likely the front survives from the Little Grand.

musicformovies on September 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Joe Vogel: Thank you for the information. I own the original theatre pipe organ that was installed in a “Grand Theatre” in Madison, IN. It was originally a Kilgen 2/4 Op. 4163.

With this new information though I’m not sure if it was installed in the “Grand,” or the “Little Grand.” (I know by 1940s it had been removed and installed in a local high school with an additional rank).

Do we have any interior photos of either theater? (i.e. the Pit)

musicformovies on September 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm

FYI – the original installation date of the organ was 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2010 at 4:32 am

MfM: Most sources I’ve seen say the Little Grand was destroyed in a fire in either 1936 or 1937 (one source said the fire was in 1928, but I think that’s most likely an error.) Had the organ been in the Little Grand at the time of the fire, it would of course have been destroyed along with the theater.

When the Grand Theatre was renamed the Madison Theatre around 1940, it was probably modernized as well, and that would seem a likely time for the organ to have been removed. That fits well with your time line. I’d say the Grand/Madison was most likely the theater your Kilgen originally occupied.

wmadavis on March 7, 2011 at 4:00 am

“Some Came Running” was filmed in Madison, and it is still shown occasionally at the Ohio. It is a unique experience to see a movie in a theater that appears in the movie you are watching. There are shots of the marquee in the movie. A building next to the theater and one across the street from the theater were utilized for some particular scenes. The interior of the theater has not changed much in at least 40 years. In the 70’s the balcony was enclosed and made into a small second screen. The seats up there are pretty bad and the movies look like they are being projected through a dirty coke bottle. Both screens are a bit stained. The bathrooms are in the basement and there’s a long flight of stairs to the balcony, so if you have to go, it’ll be a long trip. No elevator. Not a friendly place for the elderly in that regard. Also very dark. The past few years when they run “classic” films, what they actually run are DVDs video-projected on the screen, which are very murky-looking. But you can’t beat the atmosphere. Coming out of the theater into downtown Madison, you feel like stepped back into the past. They currently show movies that have been out for a while for $5.00 with a special for $2.00 on Tuesdays, as well as special events.

JackCoursey on May 25, 2015 at 6:09 pm

A rare jewel nestled in the rural countryside of Indiana and well worth the journey to visit. Although it well supported by the local community, a tidy sum is currently needed to insure that it remains operational. Donations can be made at the Ohio Theater website.

Trolleyguy on April 12, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Status should be closed. I contacted the owners and was informed that it had been shut down.

FOTOT on May 15, 2017 at 2:14 am

Please change the status of this theatre to open. The theatre was aquired by the non-profit, Friends of the Ohio Theatre, Inc. Here is the press release from 3/2/16: “The Ohio Theatre has been acquired by Friends of The Ohio Theatre, a group of enthusiastic local volunteers dedicated to preserving and restoring Madison’s cinematic heritage. The Friends of The Ohio Theatre have applied for non-profit status and are awaiting approval.

According to Board President Elizabeth Auxier, the theatre will close for a few weeks to allow for assessment of the building, as well as cleaning of the interior. “We hope to be able to re-open for two to three months to raise enough money to sustain the building and pay monthly utilities and expenses. After that, we will close for a major fundraising campaign to completely renovate The Ohio Theatre.”

She joked, “Of course, if people want to donate a bunch of money to us right now, we can begin renovations, immediately.”

Board Member Elijah Chandler is very excited about the acquisition. “Like so many of my friends and colleagues in the community, I grew up in The Ohio Theater. I’ve seen hundreds of films in the main auditorium throughout my life and The Ohio has been there for some major milestones. I took my first date there, saw a 3D movie for the first time there and, most importantly, it’s where I saw Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. I want to make sure that my daughter and her friends get to have the same experiences.”

Blythe Couch, another board member, also looks forward to this project. “I am so happy to be a part of Friends of The Ohio Theater. As a lifelong Madisonian, I love everything that downtown has to offer, and spend a lot of time enjoying the riverfront, restaurants and shops in this beautiful area. Some of my best and earliest memories of going to the theatre were at The Ohio. I am thrilled to be involved with this new adventure and can’t wait to see what amazing things the future holds for this historic landmark.”

Significant details pertaining to the renovation are not available at this time because the organization needs to conduct a feasibility study and restoration plan. Vice-President Charles Requet said, “We will know more about the future once we obtain the plans and have defined strategies to ensure success.”

Additional information will be shared with the community as it becomes available. Learn more during the coming weeks and months by liking the Friends of The Ohio Theatre Facebook page."

The Facebook page name has been changed to Ohio Theatre.

Thanks in advance.

DavidZornig on April 7, 2019 at 8:07 pm

TCM ran “Some Came Running” tonight, and a post film piece on the filming in Madison. After a guided tour of the town’s buildings in their respective scenes, it concludes at the Ohio Theatre. It appeared to be from the `90s or maybe a little later.

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