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Blog post by Randi Richardson

Tim Rea, a resident of Evansville, Indiana, stopped by the Monroe County History Center a few weeks ago after learning that his mother, Mary (Steen) Rea, had been featured in one of the History Center’s blogs.  He was eager to learn whatever he could about the Roxy Theatre which was at the center of one of his most cherished childhood memories in Bloomington.


Advertising for the Roxy appeared almost daily in the Bloomington Daily Herald Telephone in 1955.

Tim felt certain that the Roxy was located in the building at 125 N. College where the Social Cantina, and previously the Scholar’s Inn, is now in business.  At the age of five, while living at 721 E. First Street, he and his slightly older brother were given a quarter each Saturday to visit the Roxy.  They got there on foot by walking through campus and cutting across the square.

“There was always a double-feature cowboy movie, a serial, previews of coming attractions, a cartoon, and a newsreel that helped us keep up about the war.  We didn’t have a TV” he explained, “and this was in the early 1940s when America was at war with Germany.

“The cost of admission was twelve cents.  We bought ourselves a big bag of popcorn for a dime and three licorice sticks for a penny each.  We were entertained for most of the day, and our mother had the whole day to herself.  It was probably her favorite day of the week.  All for a quarter each!”

While Tim’s memory of being at the movies and what he got for his quarter may be accurate, his recollection of where the Roxy was situated was about a block off.  According to Bloomington city directories and early telephone books, the Roxy was at 221 N. College just north of the Hotel Bowles and on the same side of the street.  Tim might be forgiven for this slip of memory due to his advancing age and because he left Bloomington when he was in the middle of first grade.



The tall building in the center was the Hotel Bowles.  It faced College Street shown running left and right in the above photo.  The parking garage to the left of the Bowles takes up the space and more where the Roxy was once located.

The first time that the Roxy appeared in a local city direction was in 1938-39.  Unlike some of other Bloomington theatres, it had a relatively short run—less than 20 years.  There was no listing for the Roxy in the 1956 phonebook and the city directory noted that the property was vacant.  After the building was razed, a large parking lot existed next to the Hotel Bowles for some time.  Now, of course, the Hilton Hotel takes up most of the block.

Today there aren’t a lot of people who have memories of visiting the Roxy.  That’s why it was so nice to have Tim share his.  Lest it be forgotten.