Bloomington Opera House

Bloomington, NE 68929

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Additional Info

Functions: Opera House

Previous Names: Colonial Theatre, Picture Show Theatre

Nearby Theaters

No theaters found within 30 miles

The Bloomington Opera House was built in 1908 launching June 18, 1908 with the live play, “Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare”. The theatre’s decorative curtain featured an Egyptian castle with advertisements for local merchants. In 1910, the venue experimented with a 7-day series of motion pictures which proved to be unsuccessful.

Though traveling movie shows were brought to town sporadically, it wasn’t until 1917 when new operator / lessee C.G. Bindercup installed a projector for the regular presentation of films. He appears to have operated it as the Colonial Theatre at the Opera House from 1918 to May of 1922.

Regular films were discontinued after 1922 due to declining audiences. But the Modern Woodmen of America sponsored some free films in 1924-1926 at the Colonial Theatre / Opera House. In 1927, the operator of Franklin’s Rialto Theatre, George E. Hall, changed the name of the Bloomington Opera House / Colonial Theatre to the Bloomington Picture Show Theatre beginning on March 24, 1927 with Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton in “We’re in the Army Now”.

With audiences dwindling and the Opera House said to be “cold” and poorly equipped for movie presentations, the Picture Show Theatre moved out in 1929. It didn’t help that earlier that year the Rex Theatre turned Rialto Theatre in Franklin had remodeled installing sound with superior projection just five miles away. The Bloomington venue resumed with live events as the Bloomington Opera House - movie-less for the next four decades.

Movies were presented in town sporadically at the high school auditorium in the 1930’s but the town never had a regular movie theatre again as its population continually decreased from over 500 to fewer than 200 people in the 1960’s. The Bloomington Opera House, however, was still hosting live events - music and dances - to the end of 1964. By the 2020’s, the town’s population was less than 100 residents.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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