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September 27, 2013

From saloons to theaters: Display shows entertainment's history

Exhibit displays Cass Co. entertainment history

The State Theatre’s transformation into the Shindig, a venue for stand-up comedians and live bands, and the pending completion of Mary Max Cinemas Logansport 5, a five-screen theater, got Thelma Conrad thinking of a possible focus for the Cass County Historical Society’s newest exhibit.

“We’re happy for the changes and it will now become a part of history,” Conrad said. “This exhibit falls in to our mission statement and anytime we can get the word out the historical society is active and fulfilling their mission statement, we do.”

After Conrad, Cass County Historical Society executive director, put together the exhibit over the month of August, it is now open to visitors in the basement at the Cass County Historical Society museum.

The exhibit, “From Saloons to Theaters,” gives the visitor an idea of how entertainment in Cass County and Logansport evolved from a piano in a saloon or hotel lobby to the modern theaters of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Conrad said.

Venues ranged from the Dolan Opera House and live entertainment such as Vaudeville to radio programs, then film, she said.

Historical society president Jeanie Jones said having displays like the one running now are important.

“The number one goal is to bring back memories for some and pique interest of younger kids,” Jones said. “Seeing an exhibit in person is not the same as seeing something on a computer screen.”

As someone starts a tour in the exhibit, there is a cottage organ in that would have been played in a saloon, a type of bar in the 1800s, or hotel lobby. There are also photos of businesses that used to exist in Logansport, including the Barnett Hotel, a stage coach stop, the Royal Saloon and the Johnston Hotel.

A description in the exhibit states that in 1859 the city of Logansport index had four saloons listed; in 1869 there were 28; in 1874 there were 24 and in 1877 there were 40.

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