Historic Evansville

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Victory Theater / Hotel Sonntag

Victory Theater / Hotel Sonntag
Victory Theater / Hotel Sonntag

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600-614 Main St
Evansville, IN

Quick Timeline

1921 Theater opens


North corner of Main and 6th
District: Downtown
Latitude: 37.972950360903
Longitude: -87.568679451942
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Style: No Style Listed
Architect: Pridmore,J. E. O. (chicago)



neoclassical j e o pridemore plans drawn 1921 acquired by loew in 1926 and called loew's victory for a time, later just loew's <1965 sonntag became the home of evsc signature school chartered 2002 victory reopened 1998 sept 13 pic being built 1/2/1921 Victory theater was on the bottom floor. Movie going during the 1920s was one of America's favorite past times. Major metropolitan areas, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles were homes to the largest concentrations of grand scale movie theaters. However, even small towns, such as Evansville could generally boast two to three upscale movie palaces. Main Street or the town square were the typical locations for such venues. Whereas the palaces of Europe were home to great kings and queens of royalty, the movie palace was the "palace of the people." The Victory Theater of downtown Evansville, Indiana is an excellent example of the 1920s movie palace. Located on the corner of Sixth and Main Streets this building is six stories in height, faces 149 feet on Main St., 144 feet on Sixth St., and stretches all the way to the alley between Main and Sycamore Streets. The architect was John Pridmore. Construction began in September of 1920. The grand opening of the theater was held the weekend of July 15 and 16, 1921. The theater was built in commemoration of World War I (1914-1918) and is decorated throughout with patriotic motifs, such as the eagle, a Roman symbol which represents victory. The exterior of the building is very basic and in keeping with the contemporary architectural movement of the 1920s. The only notable element of the exterior is the eagle that topped the marquis, which was filled with cascading and flashing lights. The interior of the building is far more extravagant than the exterior. Whereas the exterior is not that eye-catching, the interior has an opulence similar to that of a restrained Baroque style. The auditorium is 108 feet long by 91 feet wide and comfortably seats 2,500 people. The stage is 68 feet wide and 82 feet deep. It is notably one of the largest in the Midwest. The architect, Pridmore, had recently traveled throughout Europe. He based the interior, including color schemes, on the playhouses in Southern Italy. The main color scheme he used was blue and gold and it was continued throughout the decorative elements of the theater. The lofty ceiling was gold, with huge blue and gold oriental bowls, which produced subdued lighting effects. The colors were continued down the side walls toward the stage in painted tapestries. From the side walls, the color scheme again moves closer to the focal point (the stage) in gigantic gold-leafed columns which frame the stage. z The columns on either side of the stage display elements of the Greeks orders, Ionic and Corinthian. They each have four Ionic scrolls and acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order. Combining elements from different orders makes these columns composite. Atop each column, on the center cap, rests the Roman motif of an eagle. The most notable element of the theater is the proscenium arch, which frames the stage. Draping from the arch is a rich blue velvet curtain, which creates a high contrast with the gold-leaf on the arch. The decorative detailed elements of the arch include various fruits and vegetables. The function of the proscenium arch is not only decorative, but also key to the structural integrity of the building. Weighing approximately 45 tons, it acts as a girder supporting the portion of the buildings roof directly above the stage. Two golden grills are used to disguise the organ pipes, on either side of the proscenium arch. The $10,000 organ sits stage-right (audience left). During the playing of the organ music the grills were used in combination to produce strange lighting effects of different colors. All of these lavish and extravagant structural and decorative elements of the Victory Theater made movie going a favorite activity among the residents of Evansville. Movie goers could enjoy an afternoon or evening of entertainment and fantasy. In the late 1990s, the city of Evansville planned to restore the theater to its original glory. They succeeded in 1999. In its restoration, the Victory's stage was widened, the organ was removed, its balconies raised, and the color scheme of blue and gold was changed to predominantly teal, maroon and gold; however, gold remains the most prominent color. Victory 1 Victory 2 Victory 3 Victory 4 Victory 5 Victory 6 Victory 7 Victory 8 thank god! fire

See also Other Downtown district

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