South Bend’s Palace Theater was built in 1921 as a vaudeville house. As it went for so many theaters after vaudeville died, it converted to showing movies. It went much the same way for South Bend’s other grand theaters, the Colfax, the State, and the Granada. All four of them hosted the premiere of Knute Rockne: All American, a 1940 film about the Notre Dame football coach. Michigan Street was packed with people that night; see a photo here. Downtown as a major movie destination lasted until suburban shopping centers came in the 1960s. The Granada was demolished in 1971 to make way for South Bend’s disastrous downtown pedestrian mall. The Colfax closed in 1977 and was demolished in 1991. The State still stands, but has been mostly vacant for decades.
Obviously, and thankfully, the Palace still stands. In 1987 I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life here. It was known as the Morris Civic Auditorium then, and it was in serious disrepair. By the time I saw the rock band Heart perform there in 2006, the theater had undergone a wonderful restoration and was renamed the Morris Performing Arts Center. Gorgeous inside and out, the Palace is a crown jewel of South Bend’s downtown. I’ve tried to photograph it many times, but it is immense and I find it difficult to frame. I’m not entirely satisfied with this photo, because it fails to capture the building’s total beauty. But I like how the light and shadow play on its flanks. I shot this with my Nikon F2 and my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens on Kodak T-Max 100 film.
Today is my 7th blogiversary! Read my first ever post here.
Last updated on 10 March 2020 by Jim Grey