Kirkwood's Pasts and Futures
The Buskirk-Chumley Theater will be celebrating its “Neon Centennial” in 2022. Our plans include a series of special programs from August 2022 – June 2023. The Indiana Theater (now the BCT), owned by the local Vonderschmitt family, showed its first silent film The Storm on December 11, 1922, accompanied by music from the theater’s organist.
Recovering the history of the theater has been challenging, due to the many changes of ownership over 100 years. We have been blessed with dozens of people willing to share their knowledge and memories, including a descendent of the Vonderschmitt family, the daughter of the projectionist for 65 years, and many former employees, board members, and movie-goers who have contributed and helped us fill in gaps.
Partnering with the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the Bloomington chapter of the NAACP, and the IU Black Film Center and Archives, the BCT is taking the occasion of the Neon Centennial to explore and celebrate the diverse community that has contributed to the success of the theatre over the last 100 years.
This research will culminate with a podcast called "The Balcony," which will cover the history of Black audiences at movie theatres, conversations with Black Elders who remember going to movies at the BCT, and the end of segregation at the theatre.