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Historic Venue Preservation

Historic Venue Preservation

The Power of Human Connection Campaign

The Buskirk-Chumley Theater, also remembered as “The Indiana Theatre,” significantly contributes to the historical importance of the Courthouse Square Historic District in Bloomington. Built in 1922, the theater operated continuously until 1995, showcasing movies and live performances. It was founded by Harry and Nova Vonderschmitt, who also operated several other theaters in Indiana. The Vonderschmitts’ company, Vonderschmitt Amusement Enterprise, was housed in the east commercial space on the street level of the theater.

A 101 year old building with important historical and emotional significance to the Bloomington community needs to be taken care of with thoughtfulness.  Therefore, we’ve partnered with locally-owned Loren Wood Builders to utilize their vast expertise in construction, renovation, and restoration to preserve, restore, and rehabilitate the building both mechanically and aesthetically.  

Contribute to the Historic Venue Preservation Fund

As the only remaining original movie house still operating as an arts venue, our focus on Historic Venue Preservation is a shared community responsibility. Your support of this work is the only way to ensure that Bloomington’s community theater remains functional and well-maintained to ensure its survival for future generations.

After the Vonderschmitt era, Kerasotes Theatres Inc. purchased the theater in 1975. Changes were made, including the addition of doors, a restroom, and a concession stand. Before 1975, patrons could bring candy from the Sweet Shop, which occupied the west commercial space on the street level.

The second floor of the building hosted various enterprises and offices, including those of the Vonderschmitts, the American Cancer Society, Hazel’s Beauty Salon, and Bolen Photography. However, the entire building has been vacant since Kerasotes ceased theater operations in the spring of 1995.

The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is one of Bloomington’s distinguishable landmarks. The Spanish Mission Revival style building has a symmetrical textured stucco facade with two wood and glass storefronts, variegated red and yellow clay tiles, red asphalt shingles, and limestone trim. The most recognizable features are a red-painted marquee with a bow-tie-shaped “Indiana” sign and neon lights.