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Rialto Theater - Ft. Wayne, IN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member DnRseekers
N 41° 03.649 W 085° 08.266
16T E 656476 N 4547179
Quick Description: A work in progress that was almost lost.
Location: Indiana, United States
Date Posted: 12/2/2012 2:14:08 PM
Waymark Code: WMFV7N
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Big B Bob
Views: 4

Long Description:
When the Rialto opened in 1924 it was considered one of the Midwest's most beautiful theaters. Built at a cost of $150,000, it was originally run by James Heliotes and Charles Lambarakis. During the 1930's, blonde bombshell Marilyn Maxwell began her career in the movies here as an usher, before going on to become a real movie star, traveling the world during World War II as Bob Hope's USO cohort.

The Rialto continued on in operation until 1989 but not without suffering the loss of its former elegance. It's reputation still suffers today in some peoples mind from the last years it was in commercial operation. By then the theater had succumb to "Adult" films and the balcony that had been added in the 1940's to accommodate 300 more patrons was closed off to accommodate a new clientèle. Upon purchase by the Reclamation Project in 2003 the "little rooms" for those patron couples still remained upstairs.

The building had suffered decay to the point it was rapidly nearing its demise. The roof had allowed tremendous amount of water to enter the building and the results were devastating. It had been put on Indiana's ARCH listing as an endangered building. Despite this in 1993 it was granted a designation as a historic district by the city of Ft. Wayne. By the time the present owner, The Reclamation Project purchased it the interior was rubble. Little remained that had not been stripped or that could be salvaged. Seating was gone, nearly all the woodwork was destroyed, plaster had crumbled. Some token items remained and the Project has kept them safe such as the original projectors, the popcorn machine, just a few items here and there are all that are left.

The Project has been working on the building now since 2003. A new roof at $100,00 was the first order of business. That got it off the endangered list but the undertaking is a massive project and as of 2012, 9 years later, lots is still to be done but the work is steady and it looks as if it will indeed be saved. Hopes are to turn it into a community center and restore much of its original feel. Hopefully the stage will once again host new acts as it did vaudeville acts back when it was first opened.

From the Ft. Wayne News Sentential Here is a brief history of the Rialto Theater:

*1924: The 400-seat theater opens at 2616 S. Calhoun St.

*1940s: Remodeling adds 300-seat balcony.

*1952: Marquee sign goes up.

*1967: Theater sold by James Heliotes family to partnership consisting of the local Mallers-Spirou Management Inc. and Alliance Theatre Corp. of Chicago.

*1979: Mallers-Spirou closes the theater and puts it up for sale.

*1980: Theater sold to Taso Promotions of Chicago, which briefly shows Spanish-language films.

*1982: New local owners buy theater and reopen it as a pornographic movie house.

*1986: Allen County Prosecutor’s Office sues to seize the Rialto, claiming the owners violated state racketeering and corrupt organization law. Owners later plead guilty to distributing obscene material and promoting prostitution, but do not lose the building.

*1989: The Rialto closes.

*1990: Historic-preservation group ARCH Inc. places the Rialto on its Endangered Structures List.

*1993: The city names the Rialto a locally designated historic district.

*2003: Local group The Reclamation Project buys the theater. Members will make it a center for theater, the arts and urban ministry.
Year Theater Opened: 1924

Ticket Price (local currency): 0.00 (listed in local currency)

Matinee Price (local currency): 0.00 (listed in local currency)

Number of Screen(s): 1

Concessions Available: no

Web site: Not listed

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