The Parthenon Theater
Hammond, Indiana 
1921 - 1980

The Parthenon was used for more than just movies. Here the orchestra pit is filled with musicians for a night of
community entertainment.

The Parthenon was opened on 19th March 1921, originally seating over 2500, it was the second-largest of Hammond's movie theaters, after the 3000-plus seat State. It was originally operated as part of the Warner Brothers circuit, one of their earliest houses outside of California.

Opening night's program several vaudeville and musical acts, a couple of film shorts, and the Douglas Fairbanks feature, "The Nut".

The luxurious and highly ornate neo-Italian Renaissance Baroque style Parthenon quickly gained the nickname of "The Wonder Theatre", not only screening the best first-run features, with sound by 1927, but vaudeville into the 30s, many of the most famous big bands of the 30s and 40s, and celebrities such as Harry Houdini, Jack Benny and even Rin-Tin-Tin, the most famous canine star of Hollywood until Lassie.

The Parthenon's spacious auditorium featured one of the earliest Hammond movie houses with unobstructed sight lines, thanks to its large reinforced steel and concrete balcony, which sat well over 1200 alone. Its lobby spaces could fit more than 1000 patrons, and all the Parthenon's public areas were richly decorated, like a Renaissance era princely palace, and furnished with the finest artwork and furniture, including caged songbirds in the main lobby.

By the late 60s, and into the 70s, the Parthenon began to be used more for rock concerts than as a movie house, beginning in 1967, when Sonny and Cher appeared on stage to promote their movie, "Good Times". During the 70s, groups as diverse as KISS and Rush played at the Parthenon.

After closing in the early 80s, the longest-lasting of downtown Hammond's great movie palaces was sadly demolished in 1983, replaced by a parking lot.

Source: Cinema Treasures

And this is what you did as a kid in 1932's when you wanted to see a movie...
You stood in line waiting for the Parthenon to open.  Always a double feature...




When they constructed the Parthenon Theatre in downtown Hammond, they required a stress test on the balcony to make
sure it would support the combined weight of the patrons. These early pictures show bags of concrete stacked in the
upper balcony as part of that engineering test.

"The two larger photos above show the stress test of the theatre's balcony.
Shown are 1,150 bags of Portland cement each weighing 100 pounds. The total weight
 is over 57 tons in a space of only 8 feet by 13 feet. That would mean if it were
possible to get that many people in that small amount of space, the balcony would
hold the weight of some 766 people each weighing 150 pounds."
-Hammond Historical Society


As the Parthenon closed and awaits demolition
the marquee is used to encourage people to
"Shop Downtown"... but it is too late to save the
historic Hammond commercial district.
The theater was closed February 14, 1980.
  Interior photos of an old theatre in poor maintenance suggests a more glamorous time in the life of the Parthenon Theatre.





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