|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
An exciting new type of theatre experience debuted in Terra Haute on January 28, 1922 with the opening of the Indiana Theatre. Designed by famed architect, John Eberson, the theatre was one of his early experiments in his atmospheric theater style of movie palace.
John Eberson (1875–1954)
A native of Czernowitz, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary (Ukraine), John was the son of Sigfried and Lora (Schmidt) Eberson. He attended high school at Dresden, Saxony, and then went to the University of Vienna to study electrical engineering. In 1896, he joined the Austrian army. In 1901, he immigrated to St. Louis, Missouri via New York City. He joined Johnson Realty and Construction Company, traveling around the east coast of the United States promoting and building theatres in small towns. In 1903, he married Beatrice Lamb, with whom he had three children. The next year the couple moved to Hamilton, Ohio. In Hamilton, he designed several buildings. By 1910, he and Beatrice moved to Chicago. While in Chicago, he designed theatres for Karl Hoblitzelle's Interstate Amusement Company. After designing some theatres for Hoblitzelle, he started designing theatres using his atmospheric theatre style design. The first of this design was the Dallas Majestic in Dallas Texas in 1922. The Indiana Theatre was his second, in 1922.
The atmospheric theatre replaced the standard movie experience of row of seats facing a screen with an experience of being outdoors in a European courtyard or garden. Overhead the ceiling was sky blue on which projectors cast images of clouds and ever-changing colors. As the production neared beginning, lighting effects cast the impression of a setting sun and the beginnings of twilight. The theatre transported the audience to a faraway time and place, creating a magic feeling over the audience as the theatre's production began.
Designed by Eberson and constructed by T. W. Barhydt the theatre seated 2,018 people. On opening night the silent movie “Cappy Ricks” played, accompanied by a thirty piece orchestra. Afternoon tickets sold for twenty-five cents and evening tickets for forty cents. During its lifetime, the theatre has hosted vaudeville, cinema, performing arts and community celebrations. The theatre has recently been restored to its former glory. For more information about this Indiana treasure, contact:
683 Ohio Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807
Office Number: (812) 232-8076
Fax Number: (812) 238-0333
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning