Indiana Theatre

136 W. Washington Street,
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Related Websites

Indiana Repertory Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fourth Avenue Amusement Co., Publix Theaters Corporation

Architects: Edgar Otis Hunter, Preston C. Rubush

Firms: Rubush & Hunter

Functions: Performing Arts

Styles: East Indian, Moorish, Spanish Baroque

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News About This Theater

Indiana with Cinerama Marquee

The revived Indiana Theatre is a former movie palace which opened on June 18, 1927 with 3,313 seats, and it once housed bowling alleys and billiards in its basement and the Spanish/Atmospheric style Indiana Roof Ballroom upon its roof (which had its own entrance at 140 W. Washington Street). At some point during its history, the Indiana Theatre was modified to allow for showings of Cinerama movies.

But in 1980, the theatre became the home of the Indiana Repertory Theatre. To accomodate the theatre group, the house was split in half, and the balcony was made into a second theatre. Thankfully, the alterations did not destroy the theatre’s luxurious, upstairs Spanish/Atmospheric style ballroom. Architect for the alterations was Evans Woolen. It reopened October 24, 1980.

Also of interest, the theatre’s original organ, a 3 manual/18 rank Barton, is now owned by the Central Indiana Theatre Organ Society and was installed in the Warren Center for the Performing Arts in Indianapolis.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

JohnMLauter on June 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

The Indiana was always Known as the Indiana theatre, the name “Publix” refers to the Paramount-Publix franchise, which this theatre was a part of. This was before the federal government anti-trust action, which eneded the studios' ability to own the theatres in which their products were shown. Several theatres in Detroit were Publix houses, the local franchise there was owned by the Kunsky chain. Another local firm in Indy no doubt held the franchise for that city/area.

busswt on October 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

The organ is now at the Warren Performing Arts Center. Here it play here:

See still pictures here: View link

I am still in disbelief that the auditorium of the theatre was ruined by the IRT remodel. I remember seeing the orchestra lift operate during a closed ATOS meeting one Sunday morning years ago. A Thomas Theatre Organ was played by Kenny Jagger. I read above that the lift mechanism was trashed. What a tragedy!!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

Photos of the Indiana Theatre in its current state. Some are very nice. Others, such as the apparent leopard spot carpeting in one of the lounges, not so much:

View link

To view click on the second tab marked “Photos”.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on April 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

Click here for a photograph of the Indiana Theatre taken in 1930 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto & Mann.

Petronius2 on September 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Anybody who, like me, first saw “2001: A Space Odyssey” in Cinerama at the Indiana Theater, on its first release in 1968, will certainly never forget the experience. Some films are made IN Cinerama, but that one seemed to be made FOR Cinerama. It’s just not the same on a regular screen, and without the fine resolution of a good 70mm print. I was still in high school and was just blown away by the stunning artistry. I ended up seeing it, what, five times at the Indiana? Six times? Seven or more? A whole lot of times. Unforgettable.



dallasmovietheaters on September 29, 2015 at 3:30 pm

For the 1940 reboot of the theater in 1940 they’ll have “The Boys from Syracuse”

rivest266 on October 25, 2015 at 8:39 am

June 19th, 1927 grand opening ad in photo section.

Mansey1 on August 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm

I remember the marquee collapsing after a bad rain storm during the summer of 1952

Mansey1 on August 10, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Another memory is when Song of the South made it’s Grand Opening at this theater in the 40’s. My aunt, Margaret Graham Goodrich, who was the graphic designer for the theater spirited my mother, brother and me across the top of the theater for seating as it was a sell out.

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