The Lerner Theatre in Elkhart

The lights from the glorious exterior of the Beaux Arts-style Lerner Theatre, all magnificent terra cotta and Ionic columns, casts a colorful and warm glow at night on the city streets of Elkhart.

Built in 1924 as a theatrical palace, the Lerner, now on the National Register of Historic Places, had seating for 2000 and featured big bands, vaudeville and first run movies. But by the early 1990s, the once glorious theater was fading fast until an $18-million-dollar renovation took place. With its grand lobby, multi-colored inlaid marble, stained glass and plush furnishings, it creates an ambience of a grand old time. The Lerner’s ornate Crystal Ballroom is a perfect setting for weddings, banquets and business conferences, and the auditorium with its 20 to 30-foot diameter central dome, is the perfect venue for plays, concerts, symphonies and even, harkening back to its past, a Silent Movie Series with accompanying music from the 1924 Kimball organ.

Located in the heart of Elkhart’s burgeoning historic downtown, it’s just steps away from shops and trendy restaurants as well as the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers.

Built in 1941 and family owned for decades, the Art Theatre in downtown Hobart has all its original construction including Art Deco designs. Tickets are cheap and so is the hot popcorn, making it a much better value than large cinema chains. Movies range from such cult classics as the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Help Me Mommy, to major Hollywood releases like American Sniper, Shades of Grey and the latest Star War movie, The Force Awakens.

In 2012, because of its historic significance, the market density of its location, and the passion of its owners, the Art was selected as one of only 50 independent movie theaters in the country (and the only one in Indiana) by Keep Indie Visible, an organization dedicated to the preservation of small theaters. The passion is not only part of the owners’ philosophy but also the community. Their Facebook page has almost 6000 likes. Not bad for an indie theater in a lakeside town of less than 30,000.

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