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home : most recent : community development February 17, 2019


2/11/2019 11:10:00 AM
Historic downtown theaters in South Bend, Goshen and Niles face very different futures
Everett Thomas talks about improvements that are coming to the historic Goshen Theater. Organizers believe the theater will provide an additional boost to the thriving downtown area. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
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Everett Thomas talks about improvements that are coming to the historic Goshen Theater. Organizers believe the theater will provide an additional boost to the thriving downtown area. Staff photo by Michael Caterina

Ed Semmler, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

The preservation of historic theaters in Goshen and Niles seems to be secure with restorations planned or already underway.

But the fate of the prominent State Theater in downtown South Bend is still up in the air with no immediate plans for restoration and an Israeli-based owner who wants to get rid of the mostly vacant building.

Those representing the nonprofit Goshen Theater association recently announced they’re ready to proceed in May with the restoration of the historic building at 216 S. Main St. with the first phase of the work targeting the lobby, ballroom, restrooms and infrastructure needs. 

The multi-million dollar effort to revive the 1905 theater required financial backing from private donors, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, the Goshen Redevelopment Commission, as well as state money from the Regional Cities Initiative. It’s a decade-long effort to return the historic theater to prosperity in an otherwise flourishing downtown corridor.

And up north of the stateline, Carol Moore, the owner of the Wonderland Cinema in Niles, said the renovation of the historic Ready Theatre at 420 E. Main St. is also well underway. In the past, Moore has said she plans to convert the theater into a venue for music performances, a single-screen movie theater and a restaurant.

Troubles at the State

While a rebirth is in the works for those two theaters, the future of the State Theater at 214 S. Michigan St. in South Bend seems to be more nebulous with more problems caused by the subzero temperatures during the recent Polar Vortex.

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