Angola Venue Recalls Hollywood’s Golden Age

June 14th, 2016

June 14, 2016

Angola Venue Recalls Hollywood's Golden Age

Eric Olson | 21Alive


It’s so picturesque here in the heart of Angola, the town circle with its magnificent Civil War memorial in the center. And this town has spent a lot of time and money beautifying downtown over the last couple of years.

Well, there is some great economic news here in Steuben County. About twenty miles north of here on I-69 they’re building a huge pork processing plant that will employ 800 workers, starting wage about eighteen bucks an hour. Trine University has announced it will build two new sports venues for several million dollars and developers are busy building dozens of new homes in the area for a growing population. But we’re going to focus on one small part of this county and this town that played a part in its history for eighty years, and is still going strong.
It’s no accident the depths of America’s Great Depression coincided with the Golden Age of Hollywood. In 1930 you could watch three features, a few cartoons and a newsreel, all for a nickle, and forget your troubles. Movies popularity sparked an explosion in theatre construction in the 1930’s, fabulous Art Deco movie palaces were built across the country in big cities and small towns. In 1931 the magnificent Brokaw Theatre, designed by architect A. M. Strauss, opened its doors in Angola Indiana. Straus designed Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre, the Lincoln Tower and the War Memorial Coliseum. Last year the dilapidated Brokaw was renovated by new owners to appear just as it did the day it was new and folks in Steuben County are thrilled.

“Oh they love it,” says Angola mayor Richard Hickman. “They just think it’s absolutely beautiful and they can’t believe that there’s something like this that’s been renovated in our downtown.”
All the Art Deco appointments are restored, a new concession room built offering the usual theatre fare and locally brewed beers and wines. Digital projectors and sound, private viewing rooms upstairs and two glorious movie screens.

“It has meant a lot for cultural growth,” says Downtown Services Coordinator Maria Davis. “Having this facility renovated and restored has been a great boon for our culture, the culture, the history of downtown.”

“I feel like it’s something we can come back to, you know?” says Trine University sophomore Matthew Stezowski. “You don’t have a lot of places around here to go to so it gives another destination for people.”

Born in hard times, reborn in prosperity... the Brokaw Theatre set for another generation of fantasy and fulfillment. Attendance at the theatre has been beyond expectations and they’re looking forward to their first summer as the restored Brokaw Theatre.