Last night, on our way to a visit with Richard in Columbus, Missouri, Kish and I spent the night in Terre Haute, Indiana. (For the record, Terre Haute means “upland.”) We stayed in a Candlewood Suites downtown.
One block away was a magnificent movie theater — the Indiana. Located on a corner, it had a fantastic wraparound front, a central ticket window, a fine neon sign, and especially beautiful, detailed stone or plaster work above the entrance. You could easily imagine walking into the theater to watch new releases like The Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind or some other film from the golden era of Hollywood.
I could only imagine what the interior looked like — because the Indiana was closed, of course. Like many of the magnificent downtown theaters in America, it has fallen out of favor in an era of multiplexes and cinemas where a dozen films are offered and some theater screens as only slight larger than the big screen TV offered at Best Buy.
There was a big dumpster outside the Indiana, and a small piece of machinery that indicated there was a rehabilitation effort underway. That’s the big quandary for towns like Terre Haute, I suppose. You’ve got tremendous structures from your glory days, but they just aren’t economical anymore. What do you do with them? Do you sink money into them, and hope that you can figure out a way to keep them busy and marginally profitable? Or do you just recognize that societal forces have sent structures like the Indiana the way of the dodo?
I say give it a shot. Keep the Indiana, and hope that you can find a way to support something that is beautiful and unique.