1921 - 1980
The State Theater began in a whirlpool of controversy. Seventeen months after it was built and opened, someone planted a bomb near the center of the main floor and destroyed the facility at 3:00 a.m. on November 8, 1928. As you can see from the many theaters in downtown Hammond, there was a lot of competition. Some felt that the Bijou Photoplay Theater was responsible for the bombing. The Bijou was located just two blocks away on State Street. Finally it was solved when it was learned that lessee hired someone because he could not afford the lease payments on the building. See articles below.
State Theater - 564 State Street - Hammond, IN 46320
on 26th August 1926, the State Theatre on State Street in downtown Hammond was
the largest of several movie palaces in the city when it opened, and, at over
3000 seats, one of the largest in Indiana at the time. It was built by the
Karzas brothers who operated the Trianon and Aragon Ballrooms in Chicago.
Source: Cinema Treasures
This interior picture taken by O.W. Bodie shows the extent of the devastation.
Growing up in Hammond in the '20s
Maurice O'Hern was born and raised in Hammond, working as an engineer at American Steel Foundries for 25 years, then at Purdue University Calumet and Bishop Noll Institute. Maurice passed away March 30, 1999, at the age of 84. Before his death he shared his memories and provided research and guidance to The Times as a member of the Times Capsule advisory board.
His interest in local history led him to write articles on growing up in the 1920s, the American Steel Foundries, Hammond's theaters and theater organist John Muri. Maurice not only researched the history of Hammond's theaters, he lived it. He was a frequent customer of the Bijou -- because it played more cowboy movies than "boring" romances. He saw, and even petted, Rin Tin Tin -- in the lobby of the Parthenon theater when the large German shepherd was a movie star. He vividly remembers going to All Saints Church to serve Mass on Nov. 8, 1927, and, when he saw no one around, seeing the State Theater across the street had been bombed.
The State Theater building was
eventually taken down to make room for Hammond's new public library building
(Photos courtesy of the Calumet Archives, Indiana University Northwest and O.W. Bodie.)