Town Theatre

111 N. Harrison Street,
Alexandria, IN 46001

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Alliance Theater Corp.

Previous Names: Gossard Theatre, Liberty Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Built on the site of the Elks Lodge Theatre, the Gossard Theatre was opened March 1, 1917. It was renamed Liberty Theatre September 30, 1918 and had 434 seats. The Liberty Theatre was destroyed by fire in January 1949.

It was rebuilt, opening as the Town Theatre April 15, 1950. Operated by the Alliance Theatre Corporation chain, it had 500 seats. It was closed at the end of its lease on March 1, 1970 with the movie “Romeo and Juliet”.

A fire in the former projection box of the building in 1994 sealed its fate, and it was demolished.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

SethG on July 16, 2020 at 4:56 pm

I don’t think the address is right. I suspect this might have been the old opera house. On the 1909 Sanborn, which is unfortunately the ‘newest’ available, 111 N Harrison is a one-story newsstand just south of the alley (where the fake colonial bank is today). The Elks met in a basic two story commercial building at 202 N Harrison, above a drugstore (where yet another ugly modern bank is today). The present 111 is a third ugly modern bank, which looks more ‘70s in its design.

The Alexandria Opera House was at 121-125. It was built around 1892. The front was 3 stories with a peaked roof. The auditorium was 1-2 stories. The stage was sharply bowed out, and the balcony had a concave front mirroring the curvature of the stage. The entry was a wide hallway between two small stores. The location is currently one of those little parks that dwindling towns put where buildings used to be.

SethG on July 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm

The 1905 Cahn guide gives the capacity for the opera house as 754.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 16, 2020 at 5:33 pm

The October 5, 2013 issue of The Herald Bulletin of Anderson, Indiana, has an article about the region’s early opera houses which says that the Alexandria Opera House was completely destroyed by a fire on February 6, 1914. Unfortunately the article does not say whether or not a new theater was built on the Opera House site.

The article includes a photo of Harrison Street with the Opera House prominently displayed. The article says that silent moves were shown at the house, and it is also the only theater listed for Alexandria in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, so even if it didn’t become the Gossard Theatre the Alexandria Opera House deserves a Cinema Treasures page.

SethG on July 16, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Another possibility is the Baxter Block, which was built between 1896 and 1902. Address was 107-109 E Washington, and on the 1902 map, the Elks hall is on the 2nd floor. By 1909, it’s an Owls ‘nest’, and today it is the site of yet another ugly little modern bank (but which doesn’t really look like something built after 1994).

SethG on July 16, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Thanks Joe, I’ll add the opera house. I think the Elks thing is a red herring, unless they perhaps built the replacement in 1915, and then had lost it by 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 17, 2020 at 7:47 am

The February 28, 1917 issue of the Alexandria Times Tribune said that “…the new theatre in the Elks building will be thrown open to the public tomorrow afternoon….”

The September 5, 1918 issue of the same paper notes the sale of the Gossard Theatre to a Mr. William Lipps who, the article says “…was lessee of the Elks theatre before the fire destroyed the building several years ago.” The paper’s February 7, 1914 issue reported on the fire, and it’s clear that the Elks theater and the Opera House were one and the same.

What I haven’t been able to discover is when the Elks took control of the Opera House, nor have I found anything to confirm that the new Elks building of 1917 with the Gossard Theatre on the ground floor was indeed on the site of the Opera House, though it does seem likely that it would have been.

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