Throwback Thursday: The Crystal Theatre

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

 The Empire. The Court. The Gala. We’ve looked back at a number of DeKalb County theaters and “movie palaces” before, but sometimes as we’re going through our collections, we come across something on a theater we aren’t as familiar with. Maybe we find tickets, an advertisement, or an old program.

This time, it started with a pair of glasses.

Harold Lloyd Glasses

If you’re a fan of silent film, you might recognize these cardboard glasses. They’re modeled after the horn-rimmed specs worn by silent film actor Harold Lloyd, who’s probably most well-known for hanging from a clock in the 1923 film Safety Last!

Apparently these glasses were used as a promotional item for Lloyd’s films. This particular pair seems to have been used at the Crystal Theatre in Butler, Indiana, judging by the stamp on the left side of the glasses.

West Broadway Street

Butler has had a couple of different “moving picture houses” over the years, including the Star Theatre and the Butler Theatre. The Crystal Theatre sat on the northwest corner of Oak and Depot Streets, just north of the old Butler Ice Cream Company. The Harrison Hotel lay a little to the south, on the east side of Oak Street.

(If you look in the above photo, you can see the Harrison on the far right. The Crystal Theatre is across the street, just to the left of the pole. )

According to the 1907 Sanborn maps, it appears there was a saloon on that northwest corner, which was then replaced by or converted into a movie theatre by at least 1910.

The 1915 Tropaeum yearbook lists an ad for the Crystal Theatre, which declares it “the home of good Pictures.” Their motto at the time was “Courteous Treatment,” and the proprietor was a Mr. Fred W. Hood.

Want to see more local history? Click here to search our online photo database—it’s been recently updated—or stop by the Genealogy Center’s official Facebook page.

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About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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