There was a time that every small town across America had at least one theater. Whether they were known for movies or vaudeville they were centers of entertainment and culture.
So many have been lost to progress, neglect and apathy that it’s exciting to see one still operating. It’s equally sad to find the remains of a great old theater in a museum.
I paid my respects to the former Colony Theater at Highland House Museum in Hillsboro last weekend. The Colony was demolished in 2017. It opened in 1938 and was operated by the Chakeres chain for several years. It was owned by the city and then a nonprofit organization for some time but eventually fell prey to water damage and decay. It was deemed unsalvageable and torn down.
Highland House has a wonderful exhibit dedicated to this place. A mirror from the ladies room, small pieces of memorabilia, a stairwell railing, and a stunning piece of art called a bas relief are among the collection.
The bas relief will stop you in your tracks. This is a sculpture in low relief – so it has shallow depth but is three dimensional.
This one is a Renaissance Knight on a horse but the museum says that there were a total of eight sculptures that lined the theater walls and represented different places and ages including Egyptians, Native Americans, Vikings, Greeks and Romans. They were larger than life and skillfully created by Indianapolis artist Frank Boerder.
This type of art was commonly used in theaters of that era and they were typically uplit.
Whoever installed this piece at the museum did outstanding work and I found it most pleasing to the eye. Never fear – the other seven were salvaged and carefully stored.