The Irving Theater

One of the oldest Indianapolis performing arts venues, the Irving Theater has stood the test of time. This Indianapolis theater first opened its doors way back in the waning days of 1913; it began as a rather large movie theater, originally showing silent films with technology that was state of the art at the time. In 1926, the Irving Theater expanded and became a small Indianapolis shopping mall of sorts, with small shops, boutiques, and stores entering the building. By the 1970’s, however, the Irving Theater fell from glory and turned into a XXX movie house. Many thought the Irving Theater would never again return as an entertainment hub of Indianapolis; they believed it would be relegated to the back shelf of Indianapolis history, a cobwebby relic that had lost its shine.

Street view of the building and marquee at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana
Street view of the building and marquee at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana

Now, however, the Irving Theater has made an inspiring comeback. After closing in the mid-90’s, the Irving Theater went through a long renovation and fundraising stage before re-opening its doors as an Indianapolis music venue in 2006. Once again, Indianapolis businesses are flourishing in this historic building, and Indianapolis arts and music have found a stunning east side home at the Irving Theater. Tons of Indianapolis events of all varieties comes through the Irving Theater on a regular basis. Indianapolis bands love the historic architecture and huge capacity, while Indianapolis performing arts productions relish the huge stage.

As a music venue, the Irving Theater attracts local Indianapolis bands and nationally touring bands from around the United States. Punk favorites like MxPx and Gym Class Heroes have played here, as have independent singer songwriters and Indianapolis jazz and blues groups. The Irving Theater, along with the Emerson Theater, The Dojo, and ES Jungle, is one of the few all ages venues in Indianapolis, so it’s a great place to catch a show if you’re underage. Bands that have performed at The Irving Theater include Same as Sunday, My Hidden Track, The Contortionist, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, The Appleseed Cast, Anberlin, The Snake the Cross the Crown, Me Without You, and Straylight Run.

Street view of the marquee at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana
Street view of the marquee at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana

As for other Indianapolis events, the Irving Theater hosts all kinds of plays, movie screenings, readings, and more. Within the next couple months, the Irving Theater will really get into the summer swing. First will be a blues jam (open to all Indianapolis musicians) hosted by Indianapolis blues master Dwight Edwards. On June 26, the Irving Theater will screen a film called Last Guard Out of Alcatraz, a creepy true story about one guard’s experience working at the infamous Alcatraz Penitentiary. Then, on June 30, the Writers’ Center of Indiana will be presenting the Indy Underground Reading Series at the Irving Theater, which will feature PEN/Robert Bingham award winning author Donald Ray Pollock and the author of Modern Love, Andrew Scott.

Several Indianapolis businesses also call the Irving Theater home, partly restoring it to its early 20th century status. Lazy Daze Coffee House, a coffee shop that’s consistently ranked one of the best by the readers of NUVO Newsweekly every year, is located at the Irving Theater, as are Irvington Ghost Tours, Irvington Insurance, and JJ’s Apparel and Accessories Boutique.

Since its reopening in 2006, the Irving Theater has quickly regained some of its early clout in the always evolving Circle City, a true testament to what a little hard work, imagination, and stubbornness can do for rebuilding a dream.

Irvington Theater
5505 East Washington Street Indianapolis

Read articles and information about Indianapolis, Indiana. | See homes for sale in Indianapolis, Indiana.