Artcraft Theatre

57 N. Main Street,
Franklin, IN 46131

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Artcraft Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Architects: Roy C. Bryant, Alden Meranda

Functions: Live Performances, Movies (Classic)

Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 317.736.6823

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News About This Theater

Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, IN

The Artcraft Theatre was opened on November 1, 1922 as a vaudeville and silent movie house with a seating capacity of 1,200. The Artcraft Theatre wass complete with orchestra pit, acoustic tiles, and a wooden stage. It is the center of the city of Franklin and was designed and built by architect Roy C. Bryant. From 1922 until 1948 the Artcraft Theatre was in its original Neo-Classical style. The building’s four storefronts housed businesses, restaurants, office space. Updates to the building in 1935-1936 and also in 1940 added a marquee, blade sign and a smoking lounge. The Artcraft Theatre holds one of the first air conditioning systems in Franklin. Using evaporative cooling from a ‘swamp cooler’. the unit drew up cool water from a well in the basement, pumped past a large fan extracting the cold temperature from the water and blow the cooled air throughout the building.

The Artcarft Theatre was remodeled in 1948, to the plans of architect Alden Meranda. This remodeling gave the Artcraft Theatre its Art Deco style that it retains today. Live programming ended in the 1950’s when the ownership installed a new curved screen that was bolted to the stage. The orchestra pit was filled in with sand and concrete at the same time. The Artcraft Theatre operated for 78 years as a movie theatre before it closed due to a multiplex theatre opening in the city in 2000. It served as a concert and dance hall for three years until Franklin Heritage bought the building in April of 2004. The historic preservation group is working to restore this Art Deco style theatre while expanding its program to serve the community. The Artcraft Theatre seats 625 patrons and operates a classic films schedule on the weekends. Field trips, rentals, movies and many more activities can be found on their website.

Contributed by Rob Shilts

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Broan on September 30, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Photos of this theater can be found HERE

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson on August 14, 2009 at 12:02 am

Drove by yesterday. Marquee says they’re open during renovation. Huge scaffolding covers front above canopy.

RubyTrio on November 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Just attended a showing of “It Happened One Night” at the Artcraft. Still undergoing renovation. I was glad that it is still alive and kicking.

CSWalczak on September 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm

The theater celebrates its 90th birthday: View article

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Here is an item about the Artcraft Theatre from the March 5, 1921, issue of The American Contractor:

“Contract is Awarded. Franklin, Ind.—Theatre (M. P.) & Office Bldg.: $75,000. 2 sty. 25x30. Archt. Roy C. Bryant. Owner The Artcraft Theatre Corp., D. O. Newlin. secy. Gen. contr. let to Roy C. Bryant. Excav.”
Architect/builder Roy C. Bryant also designed the Masonic Lodge in Franklin, now the Johnson County Museum of History, which is listed on the NRHP.

paulnelson on January 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Great curved marquee and handsome brick building.

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