Memory Bank: Illinois Street theater went through several iterations

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The Lyric Theatre opened in 1906 at 121 N. Illinois St. with a small projector and just 200 folding chairs. Six years later, the Central Amusement Co. spent $75,000 to rebuild the theater—using a design by local architect Herman Bass—and expanded its capacity to 1,400. Just a few years after that, local architect Kurt Vonnegut Sr. redesigned the theater again, this time incorporating a ballroom. Another remodel in 1926 added cooled air and stage lighting for plays. This photo was taken on March 23, 1929, and among the offerings was “Blockade,” a silent film starring Anna Q. Nilsson that had been released just months earlier. The Lyric went on to host Elvis Presley in 1955, in the first of his appearances in Indianapolis. The theater closed in about 1969 and a parking garage now sits on the location.

Sources: Indiana Historical Society, HistoricIndianapolis.com, IMBd.com

Credit: The photo is courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society and is part of the W.H. Bass Photo Co. collection. More images are available at images.indianahistory.org.   

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