Preservation, Road Trips

A lot of deterioration can happen to something neglected for ten years: Rochester’s Times Theater

This is the Times Theater, on the Michigan Road in Rochester, Indiana. At least, this was it in 2008, while it was still operating.

Times Theater

The Times showed movies for 90 years, but owners couldn’t afford a digital projector and had to close it in 2014. This marquee was already showing strong signs of rot in 2008…but look at it now.

Times Theater, Rochester

This poor old sign. Here’s a closer look, first 2008 and then 2018.

Times Theater sign
Times Theater, Rochester

Fortunately, a non-profit group has organized with a goal to restore and reopen the Times as an art and entertainment center for the community. Their Facebook page is here. Here’s hoping they can achieve their goals — and see this sign restored, if it’s not too late.

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.

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25 thoughts on “A lot of deterioration can happen to something neglected for ten years: Rochester’s Times Theater

  1. Bill Bussell says:

    I like to see old theatres restored. In particular, I like to see organs replaced or restored. The Rivoli Theatre in Indianapolis became an almost total loss, and I think plenty of money may bring it back. A theatre in Steubenville, Ohio is on a faster track to rehab. This city was the birthplace of Dean Martin.

      • Bill Bussell says:

        I became acquainted with movie palaces when I found a new book in the library named “The Best Remaining Seats” by Ben Hall. The original glossy paper version is the best, and I have a copy from that era. I met Ben Hall when my late father and I were in Chicago in 1969. We were in the Aragon Ballroom, and Ben arranged for a small group of us to see the Uptown Theatre nearby. That theatre is also scheduled for restoration after being closed for about 30 years.

        • Have you seen the blog After the Final Curtain? It’s not updated often but it’s by this guy who gets into old theaters, long disused, and photographs them extensively. You might enjoy it.

          I’ve been to the Aragon Ballroom! Saw a concert there in the mid-late 80s.

  2. I’m so glad someone is taking on this project! I have a weakness for old theaters and great signage. Have you been to the Astra down in Jasper? A group rehabbed this theater- it wasn’t restored but they kept as much original as they could. They had to strip the theater down to the exposed brick. It’s a lovely space but I was still a little sad they couldn’t salvage more. They have a great sign too.

    • The theaters of the classic era evoke a connection in us that the modern multiplexes sure don’t. It’ll be great to see the Times sign restored and lighted one day! I haven’t been through Jasper to see the Astra. I think I’ve been to Jasper only twice in my life, glancing blows on the edge of town.

  3. DougD says:

    Good idea, they are doing the same thing here with the Westdale theatre. Restoration is almost complete and they’re starting it up with a screening of Casablanca.

    This is great, the last film I saw there (Tree of Life – Ugh!) the decomposing seat I sat in way very distracting.

  4. Heide says:

    Those last two images really summarize the story, don’t they. How wonderful that a restoration effort is underway, though; I do hope it will be successful.

  5. TBM3FAN says:

    Building not so bad but the sign is where your eye is drawn. Cheap paint now peeling off. Now I have some paint, typically used on aircraft carriers, which will not peel like that at all. Only thing is that you have to like Haze Gray and what Navy sailor doesn’t except those who do the scraping and needle gunning on rusted spots.

  6. Nancy Stewart says:

    Since Rochester is where I grew up, I spent many hours at the Times Theater. It is sad to see it in such shape. Hopefully they will be successful in saving it. Hours spent watching the latest movies (sometimes a double feature) back then …. after the news reels and a cartoon or two and the trailers of the upcoming movies. I remember standing in a line that went to the end of the block and halfway around, the night Psycho opened.

  7. Kevin Thomas says:

    Seems like every little town in Texas had a theater like that. Fortunately a lot of towns (at least based on what I’ve seen locally) are actively keeping them in good shape or working on restoring them.
    Here in Austin we have the Paramount, which has been a major downtown venue for several decades. Lots of concerts, speakers, special events, even a summertime film series. It’s a beautiful theater.

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