The Palace

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.


6 responses to “Captured: The Palace”

  1. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Nice capture Jim your sure having fun with the F2 must be your favorite camera. I’m still jelous I wish I had one.
    Congrats on your 7th year and may there be many more. I enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m keeping film in it this year at all times. I’ve actually favored my Pentax ME up to now!

  2. pesoto74 Avatar

    I think you did a good job capturing the grandeur of the place. From what I have heard it looks like we have reached a tipping point with communities once again coming to appreciate these old theaters. At least it seems like a lot of communities that can afford to are making good efforts to keep these theaters going. This post got me to realize that the biggest town near me, Champaign IL, is a rare place in that all of its old theaters are still surviving and in good condition. One is office space, however the theater is still intact. Another is a children’s museum, and two others are still used for movies and other events. The grandest one, The Virginia, is almost fully restored. The Virginia probably got a lot of help because Roger Ebert hosted a very successful yearly film festival there.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s been going on 25 years since I’ve been to Champaign but I do recall that the downtown seemed to have a lot going on.

  3. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    Got to get that F2AS out and shoot some photos!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Stupid worst winter in 20 years! I’ve been reduced to shooting still lifes on my coffee table with it. I’m going into photographic withdrawal!

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