Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Indiana Theater - or simply "the Indiana," as it is known to Bloomington residents - was built in 1922 as a silent movie house by Harry and Nova Vonderschmitt. In its early years, the theater had a pipe organ for movie accompaniment and bands played on the bandstand. It is said that Hoagy Carmichael led "The Collegians" here from 1925 to 1928.
In 1933 the Indiana was severely damaged by a fire that gutted much of the building. An investigation into the cause of the blaze was inconclusive, however the Vonderschmitt family remained undaunted and rebuilt the theater the following year.
Reconstruction created a new look for the theater, both inside and out, including the addition of the "dogbone" marquee that remains a Bloomington landmark to this day. Movies soon dominated the activity at the theater, and the Indiana continued to be a popular and memorable destination for decades to come.
In 1975, the Vonderschmitt family sold the theater to Kerasotes Theatres, Inc
. Kerasotes altered the interior, blocking off the original balcony to add an upstairs screen, and operated the theater until 1995.
In December of 1995, Kerasotes donated the theater to the Bloomington Area Arts Council (BAAC) for use as a performing arts center. Garnering support from the entire community, the BAAC received donations from many prominent citizens, and the Indiana was renamed the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in honor of the local family's generosity to the project.
Beautifully restored and outfitted with state-of-the-art technical equipment, the theater is currently managed by BCT Management, Inc., a private non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors.
The Buskirk-Chumley has become the primary venue for the Lotus World Music Festival, Indiana University's African American Arts Institute, Cardinal Stage Company, and Jazz from Bloomington. National acts such as Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, Arlo Guthrie, Indigo Girls, Umphrey's McGee, Kimya Dawson and John Mellencamp have graced the stage.
The Theater hosts 200 events a year, organized by more than 50 organizations making it one of the busiest community theaters in the country.