DANVILLE — The Fischer Theatre celebrates its 100-year anniversary this month.
In 1912, Louis Fischer purchased the 1884 Grand Opera House and in 1913, transformed it into the larger structure it is today.
“He did this huge renovation that really transformed the theater …,” said Vermilion Heritage Foundation Board President Cher Pollock.
New boxes and another balcony were added, she said.
“He really modernized, it,” Pollock said.
According to the theater’s history on the Fischer Theatre’s website at http:// www.fischertheatre.com, the building was enlarged by 40-feet to the west and the stage was moved back the same distance to provide more seating space. The entrance also was changed to Harrison Street and a new facade was made on Vermilion Street with four first-floor storefronts created on Vermilion Street.
Also a new balcony was added; and there was a new mezzanine floor with 100 boxes that would seat six people each. The Lyric Theatre next door, which opened in 1906, was also remodeled. The cost for both theaters was $100,000.
On March 13, 1913, was the grand opening of the “new” Fischer Theatre.
In 1929, the Fischer and Palace (former Lyric Theatre) theaters were sold to the Publix Great State Theatres.
The Fischer’s entrance on Harrison Street was changed back to Vermilion Street. The lobby was enlarged by absorbing two of the four storefronts created in 1912. The ticket booth now faced the outside. There was a new marquee, the largest in town, and state-of-the-art motion picture equipment was added. All the vintage movies, “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Singing in the Rain,” etc. were shown at the Fischer.
Kerasotes Theatres of Springfield purchased the Fischer and Palace theatres in 1971
On Sept. 4 1981, it was announced the Fischer Theatre would close. Two weeks later it was announced it would reopen as a dollar house.