Rivoli Theatre

More From Indianapolis More From Indiana

Burial plots located under the theatre meant that mostly friendly
spectral company reside… There is one grumpus, though!

Spectral Theater Groupies love the free seats!.

Grumpy or friendly, the host of spirits saved a life.




The Rivoli Theatre is found in a huge building, with four store fronts in the front, 2 on each side of the theatre. On the east side of the building is a large apartment, separate from the theatre itself, where the owners/theatre managers have lived.

The Rivoli Theatre was designed and built to be large, long-lasting, safe and practical, yet beautiful, using skilled craftsmen and the finest materials available in 1927. The architect, Henry Ziegler Dietz, had an eye for beauty, as well as skill in creating structural soundness and practicality in his buildings, most notably in The Rivoli Theatre. One finds “Indiana limestone, fine sweet gum woodworking, leaded glass windows with copper window sashes, and solid brass door fittings.”

The floors in the theatre and in the entryway as well were made of Georgia white and Riviera black terrazzo. The rest rooms have ivory fixtures. The walls of the auditorium were decorated with “decorative plastered egg-and-dart” patterns. The large dome ceiling has a tulip-patterned border around its edges, and the two organ chambers have “intricate wooden and plaster grillwork” on their fronting.

The large theatre auditorium seats 1,500 guests, who can look up in the domed-ceiling mentioned above and see lights which resembled stars flickering away. Not only was the theatre designed for large screen movies, but also theatrical stage productions, with the largest stage in the city, with a back stage area/dressing rooms, an orchestra pit and two organ chambers near stage right and stage left.



The Rivoli Theatre was designed and built to be large, long-lasting, safe and practical, yet beautiful, using the finest materials used in 1927. The theatre’s architect, Henry Ziegler Dietz went to work and designed and built a first class, Spanish mission styled theatre, with the orders of the President of Universal Pictures Corporation as his guide and inspiration. For Carl Laemmle Jr. told Dietz that this theatre must stand the ravages of time, “serve the community well and to provide the best the motion picture industry had to offer.”

This glorious Universal Pictures Rivoli Theatre became a favorite place for the people of Indianapolis to come to the movies, see the newsreels of current events, relax and forget life’s trials and enjoy the feature film or musical concert or production. People would wear their best clothes, enjoy some ice cream in one of the shops in front, located either on the left or right of the theatre, though still in the same large building.

Despite the high cost of putting in sound projectors and the hardship of the depression during the ’30s, Universal Pictures managed to hold onto this theatre until 1937, when the theatre was sold to private owners.

From 1937 to 1976, this grand theatre received little upkeep and renovation, but continued to faithfully serve the community of Indianapolis while surviving a succession of owners, and being closed for short time periods, thanks to the brilliant architectural work of Henry Ziegler Dietz and the high standards demanded by Laemmle in the first place.

The phenomenal acoustics of the auditorium helped to keep the place solvent. Live concerts from a variety of artists kept the place hopping for a time. Such artists as John Mellencamp, Gino Vannelli, Billy Cobham, George Duke, Quiet Riot, and Joan Baez have entertained in this theatre.

A few years before it closed, the theatre was looking a bit long in the tooth, despite the owner’s efforts. Adult films made a home here, which surely caused Laemmle and Henry Ziegler Dietz to spin in their graves, not to mention raising the ire of people in the community. The theatre once again closed, but has a bright future still!

Though the theatre is now closed, it will be renovated and used by this community again. With the help of The Near East Side Community Organization, The East 10th Street Civic Association and the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, this grand theatre is destined to shine as a multi-use community arts center, the center piece of the East 10th Street district. Like many cities across the United States, people value the old town sections and strive to restore them, drawing people and commerce to these parts of cities once again.



It seems that The Rivoli Theatre was the home of entities from the time it opened, and has attracted a few others throughout its long history.

The land where The Rivoli Theatre and its building was built upon, had been a farm. A farm house and family burial plot had existed right on this spot. But before this time period, this same plot of land had been an Indian burial plot.

Through some investigation, it was discovered that the people who lived in the farm house experienced paranormal activity in their house and on the property.



Past Hauntings in the Auditorium

Past owners have opened the theatre for business, and much to their surprise they found people already sitting in the auditorium. Rushing down the isles to confront them, imagine their shock when these nonpaying customers melt away before their eyes.

One apparition of a man dressed in his evening finery has been seen frantically running up and down the isles, through the seat rows and then disappearing into the wall!

Recent Haunting Reports with the Current Owner

When the present owner bought this grand old theater in 1976, he scoffed at the stories that the theater was haunted, saying that overactive imaginations had created these supposed haunting incidents. After some personal encounters, this owner has changed his mind, but is willing to live with the reality that his theatre was host to some nonpaying entities, who love this old theatre as much as he does.

Imagine his surprise when who he thought were the first people in for the showing of a film, returned to report to him that he was mistaken: There was already a couple seated. The man was dressed in an old fashioned tux and the woman was wearing a lovely white dress. In disbelief, the owner ran to the auditorium and discovered no one else living was seated. It wasn’t possible for anyone to quickly leave that fast, unless they were life-like apparitions of the theatres’ entities. This became a common occurrence.

Ladies’ Powder & Rest Room

Women patrons reported incidences of being alone in the bathroom, hearing the toilet flush, seeing the door to the stall open and close, watch the ivory faucets turn on and off, without any help! Sometimes this entity, a woman appears in solid form in this bathroom, fooling the living into thinking that she is a real person. Then, she suddenly disappears for chuckles as the living become unnerved.

It seems that the entities have been rather rude and difficult with the theatre’s employees, making a high turnover rate a reality.

Employees have been pushed by an unseen presence. Employees have learned not to clean the auditorium alone. People in charge of cleanup have had the unsettling experience of watching buckets and cleaning supplies move by themselves. Either an unseen presence is trying to be helpful or is doing it for chuckles!

After cleaning the lobby, the cleaning crew went into the auditorium to continue. When they came back into the lobby, they found a smoking cigarette in the ash tray urn found in the lobby. No one who smoked was in the theatre or was involved with the clean up crew.

Basement – Boiler Room

While down in the basement, working on the boiler, the owner received a hug of appreciation around his waist from behind by an unseen presence, feeling the cold arms and hands from an appreciative entity; probably a woman – which inspired the current owner to make a quick beeline lickity split canter up the stairs to the main floor, through the auditorium to the lights.

A lady apparition has been seen standing on the stairs which lead up to the projection room.

While in the projection booth, the owner was making repairs and saw out of the corner of his eye a female presence standing there watching him. Thinking it was one of the female staff, he asked her to pick up a tool he needed which was out of his reach. When nothing happened, he looked and saw nothing. He then remembered that his staff weren’t due there until later.

While inspecting the roof of the theatre, the new owner fell through part of the roof which opened up when he stepped on it. Presence(s) physically stopped his certain death, by moving his feet so he landed on a supporting truss, instead of free-falling 85 feet to the theatre floor below.

Items in the theatre apartment have been moved around and some have gone missing.


Yes Indeed!

When the theatre was still open, a movie camera was set up in the auditorium and left on one night. On the film one sees a bright light form and grow until a figure is seen which then moves out of camera range.



3155 East 10th Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 47710

Can be found on the East side of Indianapolis, in the old downtown section, a neighborhood which was once a thriving commercial district in the earlier part of the 20th century and is now in the process of getting a much needed face lift through the restoration and renovation process, thanks to several organizations efforts. The city recognizes the value of these fine old buildings as being an important part of their history, and will restore them to their original beauty.


Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Our Photos are copyrighted by Tom Carr

Visit the memorable… Milwaukee Haunted Hotel


  • Rivoli Theatre page at CinemaTreasures.org
  • Rivoli Theatre page at PrairieGhosts.com
  • Rivoli Theatre home page
  • Currently closed because of massive renovation and refurbishing.

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr






Rivoli Theatre, Indianapolis Indiana 2007 Paranormal

2004 RTV6 story about the Rivoli Theatre

2007 RTV6 story about the Rivoli Theatre

Rivoli Theatre – Art of the Matter – Episode 109

Haunting Rivoli Theater, Chalrie interview

NYS Tri-County Paranormal

Haunts in Indianapolis Haunts in Indiana