Foundation provides money
to restore historic theater
are selling the
old theater seats as a fundraiser
OSGOOD, Ind. (January 2007) Indiana has its share
of unusual landmarks. Among them is the historic Damm Theater in Osgood,
Ind. It is reportedly one of the most photographed public buildings
in the state, and most town folk believe that might have something to
do with the theaters name.
by Don Ward
Damm Theater was
a hot spot in Osgood in
its day. It will get a
and be used again.
The Damm Theater, located on Buckeye Street in downtown
Osgood, has been purchased by the Reynolds Foundation. The nonprofit
organization has planned a major renovation project, expected to begin
by late January, on the historic theater.
Originally opened as the Columbia Theatre by Gottlieb and Emma Herman
and Richard Beer, the theater was purchased by Louis Damm and opened
in 1922 as the Damm Theater.
The theater was the most popular place in town, and with a seating capacity
of almost 400, it often housed more than one-third of the towns
1,700 people when popular movies played there.
It has offered everything from first-run movies and short reels to vaudevillian
skits and local amateur acts. It even had a large dance hall on the
During the silent film days, a piano-console Wurlitzer player organ
was installed. That organ was repossessed during the Great Depression.
The theater was run for 39 years by the five children of Louis Damm.
In 1953, however, Joe Damm bought the controlling interest, and he and
his wife, Viola, continued to run the theater. In 1989, when Viola Damm
died, the theater was closed down. It re-opened for awhile, but then
The Reynolds Foundation bought the Damm Theater and took bids for the
major renovation project. Steve Gloyd, executive director of the private
foundation, said the construction work will begin in late January and
should be completed on an eight-month time frame.
This is not a historical restoration but a totally modern update,
he said. The building will be given all modern facilities and a total
makeover. The upstairs will be turned in a balcony for more seating,
which will allow it to be used by the area schools.
Once again, the theater will be able to house live presentations as
well as movie offerings. The overall effect will be great,
said Gloyd. Indianapolis firm Woollen, Molzan & Partners was chosen
to do the design work.
In a benevolent move, the Reynolds Foundation gave 300 of the original
Damm Theater red velvet covered seats to the Osgood Kiwanis Club to
sell as a fundraiser.
Those seats were sold for $25 each at the theater on three consecutive
Saturdays in December.
The Kiwanis Club will use the money to help local children,
Kiwanis member Gloria Borgman said. Although the chairs are unassembled
and need of restoration, they are apparently selling quite well. They
make great gifts, she said.
Borgman said the Kiwanis gave the residents of Osgood the first opportunity
to buy the historic chairs, and many are buying several for their game
or family rooms. The majority of people buying the chairs are
doing so because of their fond memories of the Damm Theater, she
by Don Ward
Damm Theater is located
in the heart of downtown Osgood, Ind.
Several of the nieces and nephews of the Damm family have
even come to town and purchased some of the seats, and there are antique
dealers from around the area ready to scoop up any of the remaining
The Reynolds Foundation has also been responsible for many of the updates
to the town of Osgood at large. The foundation was established in 1999
after long time residents Gilmore and Golda Reynolds left their fortune
to the town.
After their deaths, Osgood residents were shocked to learn the childless
couple, who lived very modestly, left $23 million to the small little
town. The money was entrusted to the private Reynolds Foundation, which
is responsible for distributing grants worth about $1 million a year
to local nonprofit organizations.
Gloyd said there are specific stipulations about how the money is to
be spent. Those regulations help foundation officials decide which projects
to finance. Most of the money is awarded as matching grants, start-up
funds or payment series.
Recently, the Reynolds Foundation helped finance a water-loop project
throughout Osgood. The water lines through the town apparently dead-ended
at State Road 350. Gloyd said that can create water pressure and other
problems for some people, particularly those that live towards the end
of the line. Now, thanks in part to a $150,000 grant, the water lines
will loop and come back down Fairground Road.
The Reynolds Foundation has also provided $700,000 for a $1 million
Safe Routes to School, sidewalk project. Indiana state grants
and riverboat money will make up the remaining funds.
In that project, sidewalks will be improved or added to link downtown
Osgood to the local high school.
Gloyd said there are many smaller projects the Reynolds Foundation is
also helping to fund. Several of those involve the areas school
Back to January