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Palace Theatre (photo credit Cinema Treasures user atmos)

Palace Theatre

Gary, Indiana, USA

First Opened: 26th November 1925 (98 years ago)

Atmospheric Style: Spanish Garden

Architect: John Eberson

Status: Demolished

Former Names: Star Palace Theatre, Star Academy of Performing Arts and Sciences

Address: 791 Broadway, Gary, IN 46402 Link opens in new window


Auditorium in the 1920s
Auditorium in the 1920s

The 2,500-seat theatre opened in late November 1925, built by Maximillian Dubois’ construction company “Max and Sons” for Charles J. Wolf and Vern U. Young of the Gary Theatre Company, which already owned the Gary, Orpheum, and Broadway theatres in the city.

Opening night was five headline vaudeville acts followed by The Only Thing (1925) Link opens in new window starring Eleanor Boardman and Conrad Nagel. The theatre’s Kilgen “wonder” pipe organ was debuted by organist Al Carney.

At its opening it was noted that the auditorium was a “perfect illusion of a Spanish and Moorish garden under a beautiful star-lit sky, soothed with dreamy drifting clouds”. Newspaper reports went on to say that the effect was so entrancing that “one almost forgets to watch the show”!

Gary’s fortunes, and the Palace Theatre’s, have risen and fallen with those of the steel industry. The town was founded in 1906 by U.S. Steel as a home for its new plant and for many years the growth of the steel industry brought prosperity to the town. However, in the 1960s, the City of Gary headed into decline, just like many U.S. cities that were reliant on one particular industry. Sadly, the theatre followed suit and shut in 1972.

Auditorium in 2011
Auditorium in 2011

According to the After the Final Curtain Link opens in new window website, in 1975 the theatre reopened as the Star Palace Theatre however closed again when the owner could not pay the bills. In 1976 it reopened as the Star Academy of Performing Arts and Sciences but shuttered soon after.

In 1987, private investors planned to spend over $500,000 to renovate the theater and the nearby storefronts, but eventually abandoned the deal after the first restaurant opened was unsuccessful.

The abandoned Palace Theatre has become a common symbol of urban decay and is a frequent subject of photography and urban exploration.

Further Reading


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