River Park Theater

2929 Mishawaka Avenue,
South Bend, IN 46615

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Plitt Theatres

Functions: Photography Studio

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River Park Theater

The former River Park Theater opened on February 12, 1927 with Coleen Moore in “Ella Cinders”. It was equipped with a Reproduco pipe organ which was opened by organist Proff. Chas Mathis. It closed in 1986. The building is now used as a photography studio.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Sontaran6 on March 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm

This was a nice little neighborhood theater, when I moved to South Bend in the 1970s. Unfortunately, no bus line ran between my house and River Park, so I did not visit it as often as I should have. (South Bend’s other public transportation systems consist of feet!) After a while, in the mid-1980s, this lovely little movie house just disappeared, and I hardly noticed — until it was far too late. It’s sad.

TLSLOEWS on November 11, 2010 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the photos.

JimDogggWallace on June 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi, all! … I lived in South Bend from my birth in 1957 until 1968 (1101 Clover Street), when my family moved to Thomson, Georgia, where I now live … my dad – Al Wallace – transferred with Uniroyal (Ball Band) to Thomson, Georgia … my dad, mom – Barbara Wallace – and I were watching Oprah’s special on The Sound of Music (a rerun) on today, Wednesday, June 15, 2011 … my mom and dad are much older now – as am I – from our years in South Bend … as we watched Oprah’s show, my dad told me I saw The Sound of Music with them at The River Park Theater around 1965 … I figured that I was 8 years old, but sadly I could not pull any memories of the time I saw the movie with them from my mind … I knew of how the internet can connect to yesteryear, so I got up from the couch and wandered onto the computer and found this site (Cinema Treasures) … I also found that the movie, according to Wikipedia, came out in 1965, which told me we probably saw it on the “break” … in looking at the pictures and so forth in this thread, my memory was sparked, and I instantly remembered the stars on the marquee and the front of the theater … I broke out in smiles and yep, a tear slipped down my cheek … I know this may not seem like much to y'all, but to a 53-year-old who is remembering his youth and the younger years with his mom and dad, it was a special time of recalling yesteryear … thanks for this thread, this site, and for the links and comments above … God bless! =) … Jim Wallace

Erasmus on June 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I am so happy to see that the RP has been preserved — at least a lot of it. I was a friend of a son (Steve) of the long-time owner, Mr. Vogel. Mr. Vogel and his wife were the most wonderful people you could know. He was always great with our group of kids and always let us in free. When I went there on a date, I would try to get away with paying for the tickets, but he wouldn’t allow it if he caught me in time. The RP always had a good selection of films, too. It wasn’t an “art theater” like the Avon, but it ran movies that you wouldn’t see downtown at the Granada, Colfax, State, or Palace theaters.

kevyzim on July 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I am so happy to read of the “repourposing” of this fine little neighborhood theater. I too was born in 1957 and remember Mr. Vogel, though I only knew him from his reputation and not personally. I remember kids matinees during the summer in the 60’s (I vividly remember seeing The Magic Sword and loving the dragon!).

My favorite memory of the RP was when they would show ALL the Beatle films back to back. I remember taking a date and now that I look back on it, it was over 6 hours that we were there with the 4 films!

After the heartbreak of hearing of the Tivoli being torn down to make way for a CVS, I am delighted to read of the reverence being shown this fine old theater. Even though the architechure is not as cool as the Tivoli or State or Granada, this place holds many childhood memories for me and I am very happy to see the pictures and other’s memories shared here!

Studioonesb on March 29, 2014 at 7:56 pm

The theatre remained a carbon arc, single reel house until it closed. Trained there and ran a few shifts there, it was the only house that still used carbons.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 31, 2014 at 2:07 am

The November 10, 1928, issue of Motion Picture News mentioned the River Park Theatre:

“Nov. 10, 1928: Joe Vogel, owner of the River Park, South Bend, is having his house completely renovated and redecorated.”
As far as I know, I’m not related to the Joe Vogel who operated this theater. Mr. Vogel and his partners were intending to build another theater, as this item appeared in the December issue of the same magazine:
“Articles of incorporation have been filed with the Indianapolis secretary of state, by the River Park Theatre Realty Company, of South Bend, Ind. The corporation has an initial capital stock of $38,000 of common, and $38,000 preferred and is formed to acquire title to certain real estate in South Bend on which a theatre is to be built. The incorporators are Hugh R. Stephenson, Charles B. Lawton, Ladislaus Faltin, Joseph Vogel and Ella G. Vogel.”
I’ve been unable to discover if this second theater was ever built or, if it was, what its name was.

JimDogggWallace on January 17, 2019 at 3:49 pm

oh, wow!… thanks for sharing that, rivest… that is incredible… I sure will show my dad…

DavidZornig on April 5, 2021 at 6:51 pm

1927 photo added credit Joe Barron.

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