Vernon residents happy
to have a theatre in town
NORTH VERNON, Ind. (April 2005) The Park Theatre
Civic Center re-opened its doors in October 2003 after seven years of
hard work and renovation by a group of dedicated individuals.
The building in downtown North Vernon, Ind., originally
named the Jennings Theatre, was built in 1916. It operated as a theatre
until 1962 under the ownership of the late Don Black and then became
a warehouse until purchased by the Park Theatre Civic Center Inc., in
I think the theatre probably closed down due to a lack of interest,
as did many other theatres in the area, said Hulda Reichenbach,
president of the Park Theatre Civic Center Board of Directors. Culture
was changing and people had television and videos that they could watch
right in their own living room. That was more appealing at the time.
The board members and volunteers faced many setbacks that lengthened
the road to completion, including a storm that took the entire roof
off the structure just months after the group made the down payment
on the building.
The owner thought, when the roof came off, that we were not going
to go through with buying it, said Reichenbach. That thought
never even occurred to us.
Reichenbach recalls many people doubting the groups efforts. I
dont blame them, she said. They took one look and
said this building is gone. But I didnt see it that
way. I saw the building as it was back when I visited it as a child
and a teenager. I saw what it could be again.
Shortage of money was the biggest problem for the group until 2002 when
a retired teacher in Middletown, Ky., donated about 31/2 acres of land
to the Park Theatre.
At that time, the group needed $500,000 to finish work on the theatre.
A church located on the property adjacent to the land purchased it for
Then an anonymous donor came forth with a check for $63,000, and
we finally had our money, said Reichenbach.
by Debra Maylum
theatre plays movies on
weekends with no live shows
A lot of people didnt think it would happen,
said Kathy Ertel, a board member and part of the booking committee for
the theatre. But it was a community effort and a labor of love
for Bill and Hulda (Reichenbach).
In its first year and a half of operation, the old theatre restored
to its original beauty has seen a lot of success, Ertel said. At its
one-year anniversary, the board was able, through donations, to purchase
a projection screen and began showing movies. It is the only movie theatre
in North Vernon.
It has been tremendous to see the amount of people who want to
be able to see a movie without leaving town, said Ertel. I
cant tell you how many people say, thank you, thank you,
thank you. Now we dont have so far to drive home after a movie,
The theatre gets many of the same movies as larger cinemas, only on
a smaller scale. The theatre did not eliminate any live performances
when the group added movies to the lineup of theatrical and musical
Movies are shown two or three weekends a month, on Friday evening, Saturday
afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon. Every weekend that
we dont have a live performance, we show a movie, said Reichenbach.
Family movies seem to be the most popular, but we show all different
types of popular films, said Ertel. The first Tuesday of
every month is classic movie night. People really seem to enjoy that.
Aprils classic movie will be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
In addition to the regularly scheduled films and performances, the theatre
can be booked for special showings. In December, elementary school students
in Jennings County took a field trip to see the movie Polar Express
with their classmates.
It was very emotional for me because I could recall taking a field
trip to see Shirley Temple here when I was a child, said Reichenbach.
It was wonderful.
Live performances scheduled for April
include Larry Crane with special guest Jimmy Ryser at 8 p.m. April 1;
and the second annual Granville Johnson Bluegrass Festival, April 29-30.
To see a full schedule of performances and movie showings, visit: www.park-theatre.com
or call (812) 346-4329 or (812) 346-0330.
Back to April 2005 Articles.