Fifth Avenue Theatre

1313 W. Fifth Avenue,
Gary, IN 46402

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Additional Info

Architects: Erwin G. Fredrick

Functions: Storage

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One of two theatres on Gary, Indiana’s West side, this was the smaller. Opened August 20, 1942, the architect was Erwin G. Fredrick of Chicago.

Living half a block from the theatre, as a child I attended the Fifth Avenue Theatre often from its opening, until its closing in July 1956. I recall the theatre being very modest in design and had seats located one the main floor, with no balcony. It did have very large screen, and a small (apparently never used) stage in front of the screen. Until 1953 the 5th Avenue Theatre played minor first run movies, including considerable British fare. It was the first theatre in Gary to present a 3-D movie (Stereo Techniques of 3-Dimension Motion Pictures), in March 1953, beating out both the big downtown Gary Palace and State Theatres.

In 1953 the Fifth Avenue Theatre stated playing a higher grade of first run features including “War of the Worlds”, “Invaders from Mars”, and “Men of the Fighting Lady”, as well as numerous high-end reissues such as “Sampson and Delilah”, “Sands of Iwo Jima”, and “Anchors Aweigh”. The Fifth Avenue Theatre also ran a number of Ma and Pa Kettle and Abbott and Costello features.

In November 1954, the theatre closed for remodeling. A new wide screen was installed, and the lobby and concession area given a complete makeover. The concession area took on a bright and very attractive tone. The theatre re-opened Thanksgiving Day, 1954.

Beginning in 1955 the Fifth Avenue Theatre dropped much of its first run fare, concentrating on reissues and sub-runs that had just played the downtown Palace Theatre and State Theatre. In 1956, mostly sub-runs ran until the theatre’s closing July 2nd of that year.

After closing, the auditorium was gutted and used as a distribution facility for Gary-Post Tribune newspapers.

Contributed by Craig S, Cummings

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

ksvengalis on June 27, 2005 at 6:58 pm

The 5th Avenue was also served as distribution offices for the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times. I used to pay my newspaper bills there in the late 50s and early 60s.

Kendall Svengalis
North Stonington, CT

TLSLOEWS on August 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Sad looking marquee.

0123456789 on November 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm

This building is now demolished.

Denverpalace on December 1, 2022 at 1:34 pm

The Fifth Avenue’s auditorium was tucked behind a two-story retail/apartment block that fronted on the south side of West 5th Avenue. The theater, stores and apartments were part of the McNair Building. The theater was associated with the Allied Buying and Booking Circuit, Chicago.

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