News From Terre Haute, Indiana

History

August 11, 2013

Builders break ground on Indiana Theatre

TERRE HAUTE — In August 1921 John Eberson, John A. Schumaker and T.W. Barhydt teamed together and broke ground on one of the most beautiful and remarkable landmarks in the city of Terre Haute. Eberson designed the building and Schumaker was the contractor who made it all happen. T.W. Barhydt was a local entrepreneur who constructed and owned the theater.

With 1,655,000 bricks, 7,250 cubic yards of excavation, 24,500 square feet of cement and 283 tons of steel later, the Indiana Theatre was finished in a matter of months. Back in the early 1920s, the cost of building such a structure was $750,000. Today, it would cost tens of millions of dollars to create the spectacle that is this theater.

Barhydt also once owned the Grant Opera House in Terre Haute, as well as the Hippodrome. He selected the site for the Indiana Theatre at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue because he had heard slurring remarks that Terre Haute was a “one-street town” and he wanted to change that image. So he did just that.

John Eberson, an architect out of Chicago, designed the Indiana. He also built the magnificent Rex Theater in Paris, France, and the El Robie in Mexico City. He got the inspiration for the Indiana from a picture in a book of life in Spain in the province of Andalusia, the southern part of Spain. He themed parts of the building to simulate daybreak, midday and mysterious nightfall. The breathtaking rotunda you enter when you walk through the doors of the theater is meant to symbolize daybreak. The colors and tile arrangements resemble the sun and the start of a new day.

You enter the doors to the ballroom/lobby and you see more subdued hues and architecture to represent midday. Then enter the doors to the auditorium, and you’ll be taken aback by the grandeur of the stage and the mysterious manner of the room. This is meant to symbolize mystifying nightfall.

There is much to be known about the Indiana Theatre, and there is a wealthy supply of information if you know where to look. Find more at the Historical Museum at 1411 S. Sixth St.

Historical Treasure

• The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through

Sunday.

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