News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 12, 2007

Historical Perspective: A final salute to architect J.E.O. Pridmore

TERRE HAUTE — If you resided in Terre Haute between 1918 and 1959, you will remember the building on the southwest corner of Eighth and Wabash as The Liberty Theater.

If you lived in the city between 1960 and 1977, you may have called it, “The Grand Theater.”

If you were not cognizant of landmarks until 1979, you will remember the same building, without marquee or an entrance on Wabash Ave., as the press room for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star.

Regardless of the name assigned to the structure, it is no more. If present plans reach fruition, the lot upon which it has been situated for nearly 90 years will be occupied next year by the Terre Haute Children’s Museum and the Candlewood Suites extended-stay hotel.

When it opened on Sept. 13, 1918, the Liberty Theater was described as “a thing of beauty,” a “Temple of Amusement.”

Designed by Chicago architect James Edmund Oldaker Pridmore, the Liberty was built by Terre Haute Theaters Co., headed by Albert “Buck” Brentlinger, to accommodate vaudeville, cinema and legitimate theater.

Terre Haute has been favored over the years by the work of several nationally-renowned architects, including several from Chicago.

Solon Spencer Beman of Chicago, commissioned by George Pullman in the 1880s to establish a city for his railroad car employees, designed the U.S. Trust Co. building at 641 Wabash Ave. in 1903.

Two other Chicago architects, William Holabird and Martin Roche, are credited with creating the Terminal Arcade building at 820 Wabash Ave. in 1911 for the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Co.

Esteemed Austrian-born theater architect John Eberson of Chicago was responsible for the Hippodrome Theater, finished in February 1915, and the Indiana Theater, opened in late January 1922.

Both auditoriums were the inspiration of Theodore W. Barhydt, Jr., known as Terre Haute’s premier “Theater Builder.”

Fortunately, The Hippodrome and The Indiana survive and will co-host the Vigo County Historical Society’s Spring extravaganza, “Burlesque at the Hippodrome,” on Saturday.

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    March 12, 2010