The Palace Theater was built in 1924 and was located at 791 Broadway, at the corner of East 8th Avenue, in downtown Gary, Indiana. The building was designed by distinguished theater architect, John Eberson, in the classic- atmospheric style, as the auditorium ceiling was painted blue to give the illusion of an open sky, and decorative elements would give the visitor the illusion of being transported to a distant land. The Palace Theater was Gary’s crown jewel of it’s time and attracted movie-goers and performance seekers from all over.
In 1972, the demand for domestically produced steel had declined rapidly, as did Gary’s population. Gary’s biggest employer, U.S. Steel, shut down and thousands of Gary residents were left unemployed. Gary became a haven for crime and abandonment as everyone started to flee Gary. Despite efforts made to make it safer, violent incidents would continue to occur on the premises, and the Palace Theater soon slipped into infamy as the newspapers reported crime after crime. After a young woman was attacked in the ladies room in January of 1972, the Palace was immediately shuttered; by this time, the grand movie palace had become a seedy haven for drug dealers and violent offenders.
The Palace Theater tried to open up several more times throughout the years, but none of them ever lasted long.
The Palace Theater has been abandoned since 1972. Scavengers have since stripped the building of its valuables, including the copper dome that once rested on the tower, terracotta fixtures, and even the decorative plasterwork that hadn’t been damaged by the leaking roof.
As of 2015, the Palace Theater is still abandoned. There are currently no plans for redevelopment, renovation, or demolition.