Gary Theater

475 Broadway,
Gary, IN 46402

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Denverpalace on April 13, 2024 at 9:29 pm

When it opened on August 29, 1913, the new Gary Theatre was leased to and operated by the Carrouthers, Smith & Colby Amusement Company. CS&C had a 10-year lease at a rate of $10,000 per year. On February 24, 1914, the Gary Theater Company, an Illinois corporation, purchased the 10-year lease from CS&C for $100,000. (There was also a Gary Theater Company of Gary formed three years earlier.)

Denverpalace on February 9, 2023 at 10:50 pm

The Hammond Times reported in September 1912 that Gary’s new $100,000 five-story theater (it wasn’t yet named) would “be of the same size as to seating capacity and of the same general interior design as the Illinois and Blackstone theaters in Chicago … and will be devoted to the legitimate drama.” The first floor included storefronts, with offices in the front parts of the second, third, fourth and fifth floors. The stage was 38 feet wide and 38 feet deep. “Height from the floor pit to the gallery ceiling will measure the five stories. Besides elegant boxes there will be a balcony and a gallery.”

Denverpalace on February 9, 2023 at 10:49 pm

Northern Indiana Investment Company leased the Gary to a series of different operators during the first chapter of the theater’s forty-year life. Three were noteworthy: In September 1923 V.U. Young and C.J. Wolf, who together owned several inter-related companies that in turn owned and/or operated theaters, took over the Gary, remodeled it and reopened. Five years later J&B Theatre Company was formed to operate the Gary. Brothers Jack and Ben Cooney, hence the J and the B, had run the bankrupt National Playhouse circuit. The Cooneys wired the Gary for sound in November 1928 but closed the theater in February 1929 after their all-picture comeback attempt failed. Indiana-Ohio Theaters Corp., a Paramount-Publix subsidiary, then added the Gary to its local cluster exiting in August 1930. Stability came in March 1934 when the Gary was transferred to Young and Wolf, now operating as Theatrical Managers, Inc. Companies associated with Young and Wolf operated the Gary until it closed in 1953. During those years the Gary was a first-run “B” house playing pictures that weren’t big enough for the affiliated Palace, a nearby “A” house. Together the Gary and Palace booked films from Columbia, RKO, Twentieth Century-Fox and Universal.

Denverpalace on December 15, 2022 at 8:56 pm

When the Gary closed in 1953 operator Y&W stored the unused Gary Theatre ticket stock at their nearby Palace Theatre. In its waning years as a first-run house the Palace box office dispensed tickets from the Gary and from the closed Y&W Lyric in Sullivan, IN.

Denverpalace on December 6, 2022 at 9:38 pm

In February 1912 builder/developer Ingwald Moe announced plans to erect a $100,000 theater in Gary. Moe purchased three lots on the east side of Broadway near the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway on which he erected a five-story office building and a theater that became the second in the city to be called Gary. He incorporated and became president of the Northern Indiana Investment Company. The new Gary had 1100 seats on the main floor, balcony and gallery, later reduced to 800 seats. The theater presented motion pictures and stage plays. In August 1913 the Gary opened with a presentation of “The Road to Happiness.” In April 1953, after forty years of presenting movies, vaudeville and stage attractions, the Gary Theater closed its doors.

Scott on August 23, 2020 at 9:31 am

Apparently, at least for a brief time, this was known as the Moe Theatre. I have uploaded a postcard view from a card postmarked in 1916.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I believe that the First United Life Insurance Company building, which is at the Gary Theatre’s address, is the theater building, andit has not been demolished. The front is very modern, but the side and back walls show a combination of modern and very old brick. I think the auditorium was probably gutted and filled in with office floors, and windows were punched into its walls. The current building is the same size as the theater in the historic photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

A history of Lake County published in 1915 says that the New Gary Theatre was built by Ingwald Moe and was designed by local architect J. J. Verplank. It opened on August 29, 1913.

According to City of the Century: A History of Gary, Indiana, by James B. Lane, the original Gary Theatre was located at 9th and Jefferson, and was in operation by 1908.