The Murray Theater ~ Turns 100 Years Old In October, 2009

Built in 1909 by Omar G. Murray

Richmond is especially noted for its clean and moral amusements. It has a large Coliseum, capable of seating 2,500 people; the Gennett Theatre, with seating capacity of 1,100; and the New Murray Theatre, with seating capacity of 700. There are several baseball parks and a large athletic field at Earlham College, also one just east of the city. All kinds of park amusements at Glen Miller Park, including boat riding. Several theatoriums and halls for concerts, lectures, etc., are distributed about the city. Only recently a tract of 120 acres of land, located just northeast of the city, along the Whitewater river, was purchased by some of the public spirited citizens of the city and plans are being developed to build a dam which will form a lake of almost fifty acres, affording boating, fishing, bathing, and camping privileges. Source: Memoirs of Wayne County, Ind. Henry Clay Fox ~  1912

J.A. Poss; The Contractor/Builder of the Murray Theater

Joseph Anthony Poss has definite vantage-place as one of the successful contractors and builders in the City of Springfield, and such are the scope and importance of his operations that he is consistently to be designated as the leading exponent of this line of business enterprise in the metropolis of Clark County.

Mr. Poss was born in the City of Toledo, Ohio, March 2, 1881, and is a son of Anthony and Maria (Stermatz) Poss, who were born and reared in Alsace, France, and who came to the United States soon after their marriage. They established their home at Toledo, Ohio, and there the death of Mrs. Poss occurred in 1886, when her son Joseph A., of this sketch, was a boy of five years. In his native land Anthony Poss learned the trade of millwright, and for a number of years after coming to the United States he was engaged in building and equipping flour mills in Northwestern Ohio. He then engaged in general contracting and building at Toledo, and in 1892 he came to Springfield, where he continued successfully in the same line of enterprise until his death, in 1907, at the age of sixty-three years. As a contractor he erected many of the finest buildings in Springfield, and as a citizen and business man he commanded unqualified confidence and esteem.

The public schools of Toledo and Springfield afforded Joseph A. Poss his youthful education, and in Springfield he completed also a course in the Nelson Business College. When he was a lad of fifteen years he went to work for his father, and at the age of sixteen years he was supervising the work of a crew of men employed by his father. For ten years prior to the death of his father he had active supervision of all of the latter’s business, and when his father passed away, in 1907, he continued the business in an independent way and under his own name. As the leading contractor and builder at Springfield he has erected many important buildings, among which may be noted the Sun Theater; the new building of the Springfield Light, Heat & Power Company; the Springfield City Hospital; the Hotel Rogers; Grace Reformed Church; the Regent Theatre; the Farmers National Bank; and parts of the Odd Fellows and Masonic Homes, besides his own modern business block on West Main Street. He erected also a large and modern school building at Williamsport, Ohio, and the Murray Theater at Richmond, Indiana.

Mr. Poss has completed the circles of both York and Scottish Rites in the Masonic fraternity, in the latter of which he has received the thirty-second degree, besides holding membership in Antioch Temple of the Mystic Shrine and Antioch Grotto. He is a member also of the local organizations of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is a valued member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, holds membership in the Rotary and Lagonda clubs, and he and his wife are communicants of the Fourth Lutheran Church of Springfield.

The year 1902 recorded the marriage of Mr. Poss and Miss Josephine B. Barry, daughter of William Barry, of Springfield, and the two children of this union are Eva Catherine and Joseph Anthony, Jr.

Source: A STANDARD HISTORY Of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio;
DR. BENJAMIN F. PRINCE, President; Clark County Historical Society


Additional Photos; The Murray Theater is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places

Vacant lot (pre-1907) before the Murray Theater was erected. (across from the Westcott Hotel) Is the sign facing the Westcott- the for sale sign?

A view looking west from Murray Theater & the Westcott Hotel

More; Gus Sun; Vaudeville; Photos of Murray Theater

OTHER THEATERS &  EXHIBITION HALLS  IN RICHMOND, INDIANA; At one time there were at least 4 theaters on Main Street. The Murray, Tivoli, Ritz and the State. In addition, the Pastime was located near the train depot at North 8th & E. Streets. Before these theaters, James M. Starr  erected the Starr Hall, and the Gennett family built  a theater at the SE corner of North 8th & A Streets. The Richmond Coliseum was located where the municipal parking lot is, between North  6th & 7th Streets. Perhaps the earliest (public) meeting place was in the Warner Bldg., near South 5th & Main Streets. The Murray Theater is the last remaining (uptown) theater in Richmond.

J.M. Starr Hall

The Gennett Theatre was located where Lingle Real Estate now stands

The Richmond Coliseum

The State Theater was located on the south side of Main street, between 6th & 7th streets. It  suffered  considerable damage  during the 1968 Richmond Explosion.

The Tivoli was located at the NE corner of 9th & Main Streets

(The Ritz was situated between 8th & 9th Street on the same side of the street)

The Pastime was located at the corner of North 8th & E Streets (across from Paulee’s Rest)

The Pastime Theater at North 8th & E (Intersection of Ft Wayne Ave)

The Bel-Air Drive In theater was located near Centerville, off U.S. 40 (Airport Rd). On the weekends cars lined up from the entrance to this drive-in, all the way out to U.S. 40…and sometimes they were stacked (on the  east bound lane of U.S. 40)  for upwards of 1/4 mile toward Centerville.    The Hi-Way Drive-in was  located where Orscheln’s Farm & Home  Store  is now  (former Big Blue Store).


This entry was posted in For Realty Professionals, Historic Richmond Information & Photos, Historical Biographies, Wayne County History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>