Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Nelson Theater aka Roxy Theater

Before it was the Roxy, it was the “Nelson”, and the Nelson name  remained on the building, etched in stone, behind the “Roxy” signage.

Built in 1907 by Judge John C. Nelson, there were numbered dressing rooms and pianos on the 3rd floor. Behind the stage were scenery props and an intricate switchboard used for the lighting system, which required a back stage crew of ten men; usually five carpenters, two electricians and three prop men.

In the basement there were another seven dressing rooms equipped for washing and costume changes. There was also a sign explaining rules, warning actors of fines ranging up to $25 for use of bad language.

In its hey day the theater had four boxes, in the best opera style, with a background of red velvet curtains, golden (actually brass) railings, and gold decorative effects. Their setting matched the red velvet curtains on stage. Those boxes were removed sometime during the 1920s.

Handbill advertising for January and February, 1918, coming attractions, begins with the heading New At Nelson Theater, then goes on to list the schedule: the January 27th production of the play “The Copperhead” from a story written by Logansport’s Frederick Landis and starring Lionel Barrymore. This play co-starred Milt Shanks and was consideredhis finest performance, as a Northerner suspected of Southern sympathies during the Civil War” quoted from wikipedia on Barrymore.

November 29, 1918, Logansport Pharos Tribune, page 6

Also listed on the handbill are coming attractions: February 1st, a matinee “Odds and Ends”, coming to us after a successful run in Chicago, February 6,  “Parlor Bed Room and Bath” was to be presented, on the 12th “Pollyanna” and on February 14th “Stop, Look and Listen”, Irving Berlin’s big musical success.

Fourteen hundred persons could be accommodated with the use of the balcony and the 3rd floor gallery.
Many companies “broke a jump”, meaning they’d stop in Logansport for a one night stand before going on to Chicago, using our local audiences as a testing ground.

The actor, John Drew, famous uncle of the equally famed Barrymore’s, made several appearances in Logansport.
Shows that played here include Wizard of Qz, Babes in Toyland, The Red Mill and Shakespearean dramas.

The Nelson Theater became The Luna Theater in 1921 and did business by that name until it became the Roxy in 1934.

Logansport Pharos Tribune September 14, 1934 article tells of Roxy opening.


From Logansport Press, September 18, 1949 Page 3:
Big Names of Broadway Once Played the Nelson
Still Behind Curtains At The Present Roxy Theatre - Unused pianos, numbered dressing rooms, third floor gallery with a stained glass window in the dome, these are the mute reminders in the Roxy theater of the days of stage shows in Logansport. The Nelson building, erected in 1907 by the late Judge John C, Nelson, for years was the Nelson Theatre where lovers of the drama went. There it was they heard Harry Lauder sing, and Lionel Barrymore declaim the lines of "The Copperhead written by Logansport's late Fred Landis. On the stage where hundreds now watch Hollywood horses speeding across western plains, actual horses competed in the chariot race from "Ben Hur." The effect was achieved by putting the horses on a treadmill and shifting the scenery. Live bloodhounds ran after the escaping Eliza as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was presented. And "Little Eva" of the same show, went sailing upwards to heaven, with, the aid of the men behind the scenes. On the back of the huge stage, many of the old scenery props still stand. There's the intricate switchboard used for the lighting system, and the "star's" No. 1 dressing room. Also back stage are two other dressing rooms. Dozens of ropes, pulleys and sandbags are in place. Missing now are the boxes. There were four of them, in the best opera style, with a background of red velvet curtains, golden (actually brass) railings, and gold decorative effects. Their setting matched the narrow catwalk where the stage hands raised and lowered red velvet curtains.....

February 26, 1955 Ad

In July of 1972 the building came down.

I don't usually include my personal thoughts and opinions on this blog, but I must say that these photos make me a little sad. I have a short stack of papers - memories shared with me about this theater and others that were in Logansport, all doing business at the same time. The memories are very interesting in that some will remember a place with fondness, while others will remember how clean or how dirty and grimy the same place was. Most can tell you the price of a ticket, the times of the shows and which movies they watched in what theater. But, while it's sad to see a building - which by the way was allowed to become very deteriorated - razed, it is those memories made within the structure that are important to keep...and my opinion more important to keep and hand down rather than the structure its self. As I say - just my opinion. You are all welcome to your own. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Logan Theater

The Logan Theater was added on to the Barnes building in 1929 on the north side of the building. The entrance and ticket booth was on the south side of the building. One would buy their ticket then walk through the building to the theater. The Barnes building also housed the Captain Logan Hotel and several offices.
The theater was removed (torn down) in November 1980 and the ground serves as a parking lot for The Barnes building. See full article in Logansport Pharos Tribune, November 12, 1980, page 8.

The Barnes building, in recent years was renamed "Logan Square" and stands on the northeast corner of 3rd and E. Broadway in Logansport, Indiana.

February 1929 news clip Logansport Pharos Tribune

The interior of the Logan Theater sometime after opening in 1929.

A 1934 movie title shown on the marquee dates this photo.

Gone With The Wind came out in 1939.

This young woman is standing outside the theater entrance, which faced E. Broadway. 1942.

1953 is when the movie The Robe was released.



Ticket Booth 1952



1957 A view from inside the ticket booth of Logan Theater

Note in post card photo above that the Logan Theater marquee is gone.

November 12, 1980, Pharos Tribune, page 8

An excerpt from the Logansport Pharos Tribune, Sept. 9, 1980, page 1 The headline read "EDC Approves $2 Million Hotel Renovation"

Friday, February 23, 2018

Casparis Stone, France Stone, France Park


Limestone was first removed from the "lime quarry" at France Park around 1835. It was used in the construction of buildings and bridges. With the opening of the Wabash & Erie Canal in 1840, limestone was boated up and down the canal as far as Fort Wayne and Lafayette. The stone from this quarry was known for its fine quality. In 1841, stone was boated to Logansport to build the foundation of the courthouse. Stone was taken to Delphi for the building of the piers of the Pittsburg Bridge.


In 1892, an Ohio company named Casparis bought land that included the quarry from Dr. Graham Fitch. The Casparis Stone Company opened in 1893 and operated until 1927.

Dr. Fitch sold the quarry land to Casparis Company
Limestone was shipped to Gary and South Chicago for use in the steel-making process. The stone was used as a flux. It was mixed with iron ore and coke. The company shipped 750,000 tons of crushed stone annually. The Casparis Company employed between 250 and 300 workers who were paid 40 cents to 45 cents per hour. They worked 12 to 14 hour days, seven days a week.

June 9, 1899 Logansport news article

Community Oven used by Italians and others living at "Kenneth".

During this lime, the community of Kenneth developed and flourished. Approximately 30 stone homes were built Quarry workers could live in one of the homes for $5 a month. A general store was built and operated, enabling workers and their families to buy goods and supplies without having to travel to Logansport Community stone ovens were fired to bake large quantities of bread for the workers and their families. Families from Italy and Macedonia were among the many who comprised the community of Kenneth.

Some of the names of the quarry workers in the 1920s and 1930s were DePaw, Marocco, Butch, Fazoli, Sabatini, Parkevich, Laveta, Rossi, Reeser, Shelhart, Gordon and Scagnoli.

Casparis Stone Co. postcard image.


George France bought the quarry in 1927. Limestone removal continued but the supply of quality stone was being depleted. The quarry was closed in 1937 and much of the equipment was moved to Keeport east of Logansport The quarry reopened in 1941-42 because the market for smaller stone had increased. The stock piles that had been left were now being used in the production of ag-lime or 10-F stone which was used for roads and waterways.

Decreasing labor supplies caused by World War II, the short supply of quality stone and the fact that quarries were filling with water contributed to the closing of the quarry in 1943.

Quarry began filling with water in the early 1940s.

In 1947, the large crusher was dismantled and sent to Panama where it was reassembled and used.

A photo of the crusher that was dismantled and moved to Panama.

After 1947, the quarries became known for their clear blue water and scenic limestone cliffs.

Cliffs at France Park quarry - photo dated 1967.

Although they were not open to the public, the quarry lakes were popular fishing and swimming attractions for many. In 1966, the first Cass County Park and Recreation Board was formed. It was believed that Cass County needed a park and recreation area and the France Stone quarries would be suitable for development The land was leased, then purchased from France Stone. The official dedication and opening of France Park was in 1969.

This photo is from around the 1970s. Sand was hauled in to make a beach.

The quarry has been a major attraction within France Park since it opened in 1969.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Calvary Presbyterian Church

Calvary Presbyterian Church at 7th and Spencer Streets - Logansport, Indiana

Clergy Arrives In The Logansport Settlement
The first Christian service in Logansport was led by a Presbyterian missionary Rev. Martin M. Post. Dr. Post had arrived on Christmas day and on Dec. 31, 1829 he held a prayer meeting in the Seminary building at 4th and Market streets. 

Rev. Martin M. Post

Building A Church
The First Presbyterian Church met in rooms in Logansport’s downtown. In 1842 the small congregation of about 43 members agreed that they needed their own building. Williamson Wright, son of the Rev. E. W. Wright, donated a lot for the church at Seventh and Spencer Streets, with a couple of restrictions: it was to be a stone church costing at least $3,000, Wright was to be given the first choice of pew and they could use the land “as long as they remained in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America”.

Rodgers and Bemislaffee were the contractors. William Brown & Son agreed to furnish them with goods from their store and take a lien for the contract after the amount raised by the congregation.
Building a $3,000 stone building in 1842 was quite an undertaking. The subscription list, surprisingly, contained 85 names. Some people not on the rolls attended the church and even bought pews. For example, Williamson Wright did not become a member until 1866. Most did not give cash; many donated goods and services.

A drawing of the stone church 1842

Addition To The Church 1854

By April 1853 the church membership had grown to130 people. The Sunday School roll had 100 names and the average attendance was 80. In 1854 they decided to extend the church 20 feet to the south at a cost of $2,500

William Brown and John W. Wright were given the power to remodel “as they wanted”. “Venetian blinds were installed instead of curtains and the inside of the church was painted oak color.” – February 17, 1854 Democratic Pharos

Major Additions 1877

The 20 feet added to the little stone church brought only temporary relief from the crowded conditions. The basement was redone and used for Sunday School, but by 1871 the sanctuary was also needed for Sunday School students.

In 1877 the First Presbyterian Church announced in the local newspaper that it proposed to expend about "$10,000 in repairing and rebuilding". They moved out of the building for the duration of the work, meeting in private homes and sometimes at Dolan's Opera house.

The completion date was June of 1878 and the cost was about $16,000. But the results were spectacular - a true Gothic Revival structure - with transepts and chancel, two towers and a steeple reaching to the sky. There were buttresses and arched windows; the roof was raised and the ceiling vaulted.

Fire And Rebuilding

In January 1893 a fire started from a gas jet that had been kept burning in the basement under the organ in order to keep the water motor from freezing up. Passers-by reported seeing a glowing light in the building. When the fire department arrived the whole interior was a mass of flames. In an hour and a half fire had totally wrecked the church; the roof falling in at intervals.

Even before the debris was cleared, it was apparent that the stone walls of the 1842 church would remain.

Logansport artist, Wils Berry's sketch.

Rebuilding began promptly with John E. and Charles Barnes as general contractors and Dennis Uhl and J. B. Riepinger to install a steam heating system. Meanwhile the congregation accepted an offer of the German Lutheran Church for the use of their church and their school for services and for Sunday School. By fall the congregation was able to occupy their own new building.

Side view of the 1894 church including new addition in the back.

Second Fire November 1901
On Sunday night, midnight, November 10, 1901 a fire in the Logan Milling Company on Erie Avenue at the rear of the church spread to the First Church building and virtually destroyed both. (The story was reported in detail in the Logansport Pharos of November 11, 1901.) 

Examination of the photos of the church after the 1901 fire showed a two story roofless section at the back of the church, but the tall steeple on the west tower at the front and the walls of the church remained intact even though the entire roof had collapsed.

The dedication ceremony for this next rebuild effort was held November 23, 1902.

Steeple Removed June 13, 1917
After trouble with heavy winds it was finally decided that the pencil point steeple must be removed. Engineer Harry Coleman was given the contract to do so. He sawed it into two sections. The upper section buckled and crashed to the ground, immediately followed by the second section. (Want more? See the Logansport Pharos Reporter, June 13, 1917.)

In the history of this church buildings congregations have made three major additions of education facilities: 1894, the south wing; 1930, adding the upper floor to that wing, and in 1967  the Bigler wing. Paul Bigler, son of Rev. B. B. Bigler, who had served the church from 1905 to 1910, gave the church a deed on a small farm and house, the proceeds to be used for the expansion of Calvary Presbyterian Church only. 

The congregation planned for a Christian education addition to include a fellowship hall, church school rooms, choir rooms, kitchen, board room and church school office. They selected Medland and Bowman architectural firm.

Because Paul Bigler of New York City gave a considerable amount for the new fellowship hall, plans were made to call the new hall Bigler Hall in memory of Bigler's parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Barton Bigler.

A stage and folding curtain to divide the room were added. Air conditioning was added in 1991.

The church and Bigler Hall 2017