• By Ken Rohrer

Rebuilding The Rialto Theater From The Ashes

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

In 1983 Franklin, Indiana created the "Franklin Indiana Heritage Foundation to save the old Artcraft Theater from demolition. Their organizational efforts paid-off! Today, the entire "Artcraft Theater" has been restored! Can Walkerton follow this example for the Rialto Theater shell?

I had the opportunity to visit a small hometown theatre in Franklin, Indiana. Community members had set up a non-profit corporation called Franklin Heritage to help with the restoration of this theatre (it was in poor condition).

The organization includes a membership program for the community to help subsidize the remodelling and restoration. Although it is twice the size of the old Rialto, it reminded me of the look and feel of the Rialto before it burned down.

Quite frankly, the building is beautiful and all the movies are at least 80% capacity. Says a brochure, "Franklin Heritage, Inc. was established in 1983 by a small group of concerned citizens who felt it was important to preserve the historic character of the City of Franklin..."

The question is, are there enough concerned citizens to do the same in Walkerton? The loss of the Rialto was tremendous and I believe it is in the power of the residents to do something about it. If there isn't a rich investor interested, by spreading the financial support from many people from across the community, it can be done as it's been done in Franklin. -- By Ken Rohrer

Below you can see an image of this theatre from the street. For more information, see (Photo Courtesy of Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne)

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