In the heart of Goshen, a downtown treasure is getting ready for its next act.
Thanks to a mix of public and private funding, a major renovation is happening at the historic Goshen Theater, 216 S. Main St. In a nod to the theater’s longevity – and with an eye toward the future – the marquee reads, “When you’re 112 you’ll need a facelift, too.”
The work continues. This summer, crews started clearing the theater lobby and two other storefronts to make way for a larger lobby. Demolition began in the basement for the addition of modern restrooms, and excavating for an elevator shaft got underway. Digging the pit for a new elevator involved moving 25,000 pounds of dirt. Fun fact: Demolition work in the basement uncovered a storefront for a shoe repair shop!
Thanks to a committed group of people with both a love of history and a plan for the future, The Goshen Theater will soon begin its next stage of life. The Maple City landmark will be a community gathering space, an entertainment venue, and a cultural, educational, and commercial hub – all in one!
The venue’s origins date back to 1905; the official dedication of the Jefferson Theater took place Nov. 5 that year.
“Indiana has many splendid cities, many splendid communities and many splendid buildings, but no city the size of Goshen has so splendid a playhouse,” Indiana’s governor said during the grand debut.
Fire destroyed the theater a little more than a year later. However, the rebuilt Jefferson re-opened with another packed house on Oct. 10, 1907. As part of an extensive remodeling, the theater was renamed The Goshen Theater in 1948.
After a successful multi-decade run, the theater hit a rough financial patch and closed in the mid-’80s. Heavy metal aficionados of a certain age will recall the theater’s short life as a concert venue around that time (We’re looking at you, Quiet Riot with special guest Poison). From 1987 to 2013, the theater was used as a church meeting space.
Sad to say, but the theater had become a shadow of its former self. That was about to change.
Goshen Theater Inc. (GTI), a non-profit with the goal of a revitalized theater, was formed in 2012. GTI later purchased the building and conducted a feasibility study. Significant upgrades – including a new screen, upgraded rigging, HVAC repairs, and interior sewer replacement – were made.
The current renovation work is expected to take the theater to the next level as a community space.
We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Goshen Theater is tentatively scheduled to reopen in March 2020. For more information or to donate to the ongoing theater project, visit goshentheater.com.