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Demolition

Demolition work started on the Rivoli the day after its last film was shown. On Monday, January 12, 1987 workers began removing seats and projection equipment. Later, specialists would begin remediating asbestos in the attic and basement areas. After utilities were disconnected, the wrecking ball moved into place and the demolition began. I introduced myself to the demolition crew, and they graciously allowed me to document the slow but inevitable conclusion of the Rivoli’s last performance.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Seating removed…

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Seating removed, and giant speaker boxes have been unearthed and set on the main floor. Projection screen has been ripped into shreds, apparently it was not a salvageable item.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

I was surprised that the Rivoli didn’t have much of an orchestra pit. (left) Considering that it was built for live performances, perhaps originally it had a larger area but was modified in later years?

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Chair parts stacked in front of the projection area.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Remnants of the last movie audience in the balcony area.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

With the screen in tatters, the backstage area is now bathed in light from the main auditorium. During the removal of asbestos from the theater, a workman was critically injured when he fell from the highest attic. Read the Muncie Evening Press article.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

The marble has been removed from the Rivoli’s ticket lobby.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

OK, this is a really cool shot- because it shows the original woodwork and lighting fixtures on the underside of the Rivoli’s marquee.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

February 1987- the Vollmar Wrecking equipment is in place.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

The day finally came when the wrecking ball began swinging. It didn’t take long to create a massive opening…this was on the first day.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

The wrecking ball prepares for another strike.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

 Standing on the stage, the view was mind-bending, watching the interior of the theater bathed in sunlight, for the first time in 60 years.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

During the demolition I shot hundreds of pictures. I’ve not gotten them all scanned yet, more will be coming.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

View of the ticket lobby during demolition. You can see the collapsed wreckage through the door opening. Funny, there is an upright vacuum cleaner standing next to the ticket counter, as if it is ready to clean up the mess.

Photograph by John D. Disher, c1987

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8 responses

  1. Lisa

    So sad! I saw many scary movies at the Rivoli and my mother took me to see Sammy Terry here (which I was terrified of) Those were the days :0)

    October 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    • Lisa, I saw Sammy Terry at the Rivoli and it scared the ____ out of me!

      October 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm

  2. Jack E. Disher

    John,
    A friend received this site in an email from a friend of his. He asked if I knew a John Disher. lol. I asked him to forward the website to me. What a great album of pictures from a era gone by. Sure brings back lots of memories when your mom and I took all the Disher kids to see a movie. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy the great collection of pictures. Thanks,

    Dad

    October 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  3. Norton

    It was a sad day when this wonderful building came down, I hope we all try to save any important historical buildings that remain in this sad depressed town

    October 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm

  4. Stephanie Rose

    The Rivoli was my first job. $1.65 an hour and free movies. My favorite part was carrying a bucket down to the basement to get ice. There was a landing halfway down where you had to take four steps into the dark before you could reach the pull-cord for the next light.

    November 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    • During college I worked at the Northwest Plaza Cinema in Muncie from 1981-82. I loved the arrangement we had where we could see movies for free at any of the other movie theaters in town….

      November 2, 2011 at 12:20 am

  5. Sheila Kelley

    This is so sad…….spent many a date night here in the early ’70’s.

    SMK

    November 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm

  6. Todd Terrell

    John,
    I have been gathering information for a book about the theaters in Muncie and I would like to speak to you personally at some point regarding your work on the Rivoli project. I grew up in Losantville and this grand old theater was my home as a kid growing up.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:05 am

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