Grand Theatre

123 N. Main Street,
New Castle, IN 47362

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Additional Info

Functions: Furniture Showroom

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Undated photo credit Henry County Historical Society, Inc

The Grand Theatre opened in 1909 in a conversion of a skating rink. It seated 300 and was closed by 1922. The building is now a New & Used Furniture Store.

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 11, 2018 at 8:57 pm

This item from The American Contractor of March 18, 1916, might be about the Grand Theatre on Main Street, but there was another Grand Theatre in New Castle, and the Grand Theater Company might also have operated other houses:

“Movinq Picture Theater (rebuild): 1 sty. Newcastle, Ind. Archt. Charles E. Bacon, 1603 Merchants Bank bldg., Indianapolis. Owner Grand Theater Co., Paul Jamison, Newcastle. Prelim, plans in progress. Brk. Details later.”
Here is a history of the first Grand Theatre building from the NRHP registration form for the New Castle Commercial Historic District:
“The former Coca-Cola Bottling plant at 123 N. Main was originally constructed between 1901 and 1908 as the "Coliseum Skating Rink” (photograph 19). The rink was home to the New Castle Roller Polo team from 1908 to 1909, which was disbanded after the building was converted to the Grand Theatre in 1909 and the semi-professional team had nowhere to skate.By 1924, the building had been adapted for the sale and repairing of automobiles, and in 1940 the Taylor Motor Co. was selling Studebaker’s [sic] at this address. In 1941 the building was remodeled, with its present Art Moderne look, for use as the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New Castle.“
The Grand Theatre was listed in the 1922 city directory with the address 1207 Race Street, so the location at 123 N. Main had closed by then. The second Grand Theatre was in the Masonic Temple, which had an 850-seat theater upstairs originally called the Alcazar. It was renamed the Grand when converted to a movie house, and operated until 1926 when it was gutted by a fire. Rebuilding in 1927 the Masons converted the former theater space for their own use.

SethG on November 11, 2020 at 4:29 pm

I’m not entirely convinced that the old bottling plant is a remodel of the theater. The shape is different, although the height and width appear to be the same. The back section of the plant looks like it would have involved demolishing at least some of the rear of the theater, and definitely involved the removal of some other buildings on that lot. It would probably have been easier to demolish the older building.

The original Coliseum appears on the 1908 map, having replaced several small buildings serving as the Newcastle Buggy Works. It was a large brick building with a sloping wooden truss roof, shown as 1-2 stories. The SE corner of the building was cut off diagonally. I think the capacity is wrong, since the Grand Theater on the 1914 map has a huge balcony, roughly ‘C’ shaped, running all the way down the walls to the stage. By 1924, the building as an auto dealership appears to have a flat roof (at any rate it is now 2' shorter), but the footprint is identical. The roof is noted as a wooden truss on both the 1924 and 1949 maps, but the bottling plant definitely has a flat roof, so it can’t have been a holdover from the original Coliseum.

DavidZornig on March 7, 2023 at 1:55 pm

Additional history credit Henry County Historical Society, Inc:

“Feb. 25, 1916, a fire started in the furnace room of the Grand Theatre before a crowd had started to assemble for the evening show. George A. Conduitt, a New Castle firefighter, was struck by falling timbers while battling the blaze. He died from his injuries the next day. The tragedy happened just six years after the theatre opened. Photos here show both the outside and inside of the theatre, which was located on North Main Street in downtown New Castle.”

SethG on March 7, 2023 at 3:36 pm

The picture makes it pretty obvious that the Coca-Cola plant has absolutely no link with the theater.

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