The Morris Performing Arts Center

The Morris Performing Arts Center
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2007

I don’t know which of my photographs are good, but I do know which ones please me. This one pleases me for its bold colors, especially the blue sky and the red awnings on the building. I also like its composition, with the corner of the building roughly on the left vertical 1/3 line. I wish that stoplight wasn’t intruding from the right. I remember well, even though I made this photo 14 years ago, that I couldn’t find a pleasing angle on the building that also eliminated that stoplight.

For years, I’ve placed into this Flickr album the photos that please me most. Now I’m beginning to print them and put them in an archival box. I’ve wanted to do this for years, but as is typical with me I put it off thinking I lacked the time. Margaret bought me a nice box at Father’s Day, which nudged me to start.

I’m printing these photos on 8×10 paper without cropping them from their original aspect ratios. I’m uploading the digital files to Costco, which doesn’t have a native way to do what I want. So I’m editing each file in Photoshop first, adding white space around each image to expand it to the 4×5 aspect ratio. Costco prints them that way just fine, on Fuji Crystal Archive paper with what they call a “lustre” finish, which seems to be another way of saying “matte.”

I bought some acid-free interleaving paper from B&H to place between each photograph in the box. I also bought some Stabilo All pencils from Amazon so I could write key details on the back, the same details I write under each photo in this “single frame” series. A regular #2 pencil doesn’t leave a good mark on the photo paper, but the Stabilo All pencil does.

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Photography

single frame: The Morris Performing Arts Center

The building formerly known as the Palace Theatre in South Bend, Indiana.

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State Theater

Tree blocking the State Theater sign
Minolta SR-T 101, 50mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor PF
Ferrania P30 Alpha
2018

Memo to cities everywhere: stop planting trees near your downtown walkways, as they block clear views of your classic architecture and signage!

This theater in my hometown of South Bend needs an owner and a profitable purpose. It is one of the last two remaining theaters of many that South Bend used to have; read about them here. And see a photo of this theater from when South Bend replaced its main street with a disastrous pedestrian plaza here.

Film Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Tree blocking the State Theater sign

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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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State Theater

Free movie
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

Our day trip up the Michigan Road ended in Logansport. The sun had not yet set when we reached town, but after we finished our dinner, it had.

It was the night of Light Up Logansport, their annual holiday parade. It had been years since I thought about this event. Eleven years, to be exact — I blogged then about being lost in a maze of closed streets, trying to pass through town to get home. A kindly cop let me cross a closed street and I was on my way.

This night, we parked our car beyond the parade route so we’d be sure not to get tied up in it. Walking back to our car took us right by the State Theater, which was all lit up for a free movie that night.

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Photography

single frame: Free movie

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Road Trips

The State Theater in Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The State Theater has been a mainstay in Logansport, a northern Indiana town of about 18,000 residents, since 1940. In its heyday it was but one of several downtown theaters, but today it is the last that remains. And it looks mighty good.

State Theater, Logansport

It could easily have ended badly for the State. Several years ago the theater changed hands and became a live-music venue called the Shindig. The marquee’s STATE letters came down. Then that owner ran aground in his business. The theater’s future was uncertain until Kevin Burkett, who grew up in Logansport and worked as an editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, returned home to buy this theater.

Given that this theater is on the Michigan Road Historic Byway, I’ve driven past it many times and have made it my camera’s subject over and over. Here’s a 2009 photo I made while the marquee was lit.

State Theater, Logansport

Burkett has since become editor of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. He since established a nonprofit organization, The State Theater Preservation Society, to own the theater and carry on the restoration work. But he remains heavily involved. Among the first things he did: restore the STATE letters to the marquee. They are reproductions, but he still has the originals.

While much work remains in the restoration, cosmetically the building appears to be in good condition. Here’s the box office.

State Theater, Logansport

Inside, the concession stand features a popcorn popper that dates to about 1948.

State Theater, Logansport

I got a tour thanks to the Historic Michigan Road Association having a board meeting here. Burkett was kind not only to project our logo onto the screen, but to offer free popcorn and soda. I didn’t properly thank him for the Diet Pepsi he gave me.

State Theater, Logansport

The theater’s fixtures really captured my attention. According to Burkett, when the building was made into a theater, craftsmen fabricated all of the lighting on the spot. They are all unique to this theater.

State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport

The lit wayfinding signs were presumably also fashioned on the premises. They all offer an Art Deco touch, but in some cases the original lettered glass was lost. Some of the replacements are crude. Here’s hoping that during restoration new ones can be made that match the originals.

State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport
State Theater, Logansport

The State’s first-run-film days remain in its past. Today, the venue continues to host concerts, and now also live theater. Local theater groups and other arts-related non-profits are invited to use the theater for free. That’s a mighty good deal for Logansport!

Here’s one last nighttime photo of the marquee, which I made in 2011.

State Theater, Logansport

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

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Ohio Theater

Ohio Theater
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

I made this photo on an impromptu road trip early in 2008, one I took to help me recover from a particularly stressful time. I drove the two 1830s roads that connected Indianapolis to the Ohio River at Madison: the Madison State Road (to Madison) and the Michigan Road (back to Indianapolis). It was my first trip along both roads.

I’d never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely it was. The streets of the old city were lined with very old homes and commercial buildings, some of the oldest I’ve seen anywhere in Indiana — and most of them had been either well maintained or restored.

Built in 1938, the Ohio Theater is a young building on Madison’s historic main street. On the day I visited it still showed first-run movies. But in 2016 the theater’s owners lost the building in foreclosure, and ownership passed to a nonprofit which occasionally shows old films and recently got a grant to determine what it would take to renovate this building.

Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Ohio Theater

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