On this date 100 years ago the Irvin Theatre opened at 204 East Jefferson. (It was pulled down to make a parking lot for 2nd Pres Church.) In the photograph on either side of the screen are the pipes of the grand pipe organ. A organist was brought from Chicago for the first performance on the organ and a recital was much anticipated. The first movie to be shown was "Rags," a Mary Pickford picture. The Irvin promoted that they would only show first class motion pictures and the feature would change on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you wanted to see the latest hit, you would need to be quick to see it!
The building itself was built of fireproof materials. The facade was painted terra cotta and the superstructure was metal and concrete. The lobby was marble and terracotta, had drinking fountains (a very new innovation) and sanitary bathrooms. The auditorium had a sloping floor, enabling all to have an unimpeded view of the stage. Indirect lighting was used throughout and could be controlled from the lobby or the projection booth. There was seating for 800 people in the auditorium. The walls were dark red brick with glazed terracotta. The price of admission was 10 cents.
The staff of the theatre included: Manager Guy W. Martin, Treasurer La Fern Clark, Organist EVa L. Johnson, House officer Fred Youngman and Chief Operator Oliver Rhoads. In 1917 Guy Martin was still the manager of the Irvin Theater but Miss Eva Johnson was living in Champaign. They surprised all their friends in March of that year when they were married in Indianapolis and then settled in Bloomington! Miss Johnson was from Hannibal, Missouri and was a graduate of the Conservatory of Music in Missouri. Mr. Martin was the son of Mr. and Mrs. WO Martin of Monroe Street and had lived in Bloomington for several years. In 1930 the Martins left their home at 1904 Taylor Street to move to Indianapolis. Mr. Martin had been promoted to be regional manager of many theaters in the Publix chain of theaters.
On May 11 1929, Fred Youngman was struck after exiting a street car. The driver of the car, Dr. O W Ball of 1706 Washington Street immediately stopped his car and took charge of his victim, attempting to save his life. But Mr. Youngman's leg had been severed by the impact and he died that evening. Mr. Guy Martin was called to the scene and he stated that Mr. Youngman had left the theater at 11:00 and must have taken the street car to Lincoln Street and intended to go to his home on East Street which was just steps away. He also said that Mr. Youngman had very bad sight in one eye.