Preservation, Road Trips

I brake for neon: The restored sign at the Artcraft Theater

I’ll pretty much always stop to photograph an old neon sign when it’s lit.

Artcraft Theater, Franklin

On our annual road trip Dawn and I made our last stop in Franklin, which is about 20 miles south of downtown Indianapolis on US 31. Actually, downtown Franklin is on old US 31, and as we approached from the south we made a last-minute call to follow the old road through town. We were very happy we did when we came upon the Artcraft Theater’s sign lit.

Artcraft Theater, Franklin

Our last visit to Franklin had been nine years before, almost to the day. I remembered the sign as being in rougher shape, so when I got home I looked through my photographs. As you can see from my 2008 photo below, I remembered right. The sign had been restored! Turns out the whole theater has been restored; see photos here.

Franklin, IN

The Artcraft was built in 1922 as a vaudeville house and to show silent movies. It operated as a movie theater through 2000, a remarkable run in the multiplex era. A nonprofit bought the building in 2004 and, through grants, restored it. Today the theater is used for special events and shows classic films every week.

Artcraft Theater, Franklin

As we passed through, old US 31 was closed in front of the theater as cars lined up, trunks and tailgates open, to pass candy to trick-or-treaters. It was the Saturday before Halloween.

Pentax K10D, 28-80mm f/3.5-4.7 SMC Pentax-FA

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11 thoughts on “I brake for neon: The restored sign at the Artcraft Theater

  1. Marianne and I saw a movie there several years ago. They were part way through the restoration then. We should do it again now that the place is further along. We both like classic movies and getting to see one on a big screen is a rare treat.

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  2. Bill Bussell says:

    Another theatre under restoration is The Strand in Shelbyville Indiana. When finished, it may have pieces of the former Rivoli organ.

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  3. Heide says:

    I agree with your other lovely readers, Jim: What a beautiful restoration — and what a treasure for the community! I also got a big kick out of a mortuary sponsoring the showing of The Addams Family.

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  4. George Denzinger says:

    Great pix of the theater. There’s still a fair amount of neon here in Grand Rapids, though I really should have been photographing it when I moved here in 1998. Several of the ones that I would see on a daily basis have been replaced. One of these days…

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