A DOWNTOWN FIXTURE SINCE 1922
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Indiana Theatre – or simply “the Indiana,” as it is known to Bloomington residents – was built in 1922 as a silent movie house by Harry and Nova Vonderschmitt. In its early years, the theater had a pipe organ for movie accompaniment, and bands played on the bandstand. It is said that Hoagy Carmichael led “The Collegians” here from 1925 to 1928.
In 1933, the Indiana was severely damaged by a fire that gutted much of the building. An investigation into the cause of the blaze was inconclusive; however, the Vonderschmitt family remained undaunted and rebuilt the theater the following year. Reconstruction created a new look for the theater both inside and out, including the addition of the “dogbone” marquee that remains a Bloomington landmark to this day. Movies dominated the activity at the theater, and the Indiana continued to be a popular and memorable destination for decades to come.
In 1975, the Vonderschmitt family sold the theater to Kerasotes Theatres, Inc. Kerasotes altered the interior, blocking off the original balcony to add an upstairs screen, and operated the theater until 1995.
Beautifully restored and outfitted with state-of-the-art technical equipment, the theater’s management was turned over to BCT Management, Inc., a private nonprofit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors, in 2001.
The Buskirk-Chumley Theater has become the primary venue for the Lotus World Music Festival, Cardinal Stage Company, the PRIDE Film Festival, and Indiana University’s African American Arts Institute, along with many other local and regional favorites. National acts such as Regina Spektor, Arlo Guthrie, Indigo Girls, Keb’ Mo’, Punch Brothers, and John Mellencamp have graced the BCT stage.