New look and purpose planned for Emerson Theater: 'This place is very important for our community'

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It was once known as a premiere spot for entertainment, but over the last year, it’s sat empty. The Emerson Theater now has new owners and they insist, it’s time to stop neglecting a venue that can bring so much to a community.

“There’s nothing like performing in a theater,” said Zachariah Roberson.

Roberson wants to make a mark on the venue that’s given him so much in return. Over the last five years, he’s performed at the Emerson and that’s one of the main reasons why he’s now jumping on board with his two other partners to restore it to its original glory.

“If you look around, you’ll see a lot of the small venues around the country are disappearing and this place is very important for our community,” Roberson added.

Owner, Zachariah Roberson (left) looks forward to attracting new entertainers and programs for the Emerson Theater.

So important, that he and his partners are investing more than $20,000 to it bring back to life. Built in the 1920’s the Emerson theater has had multiple owners.

“There were a lot of people in here vandalizing the place,” said Roberson, “They had broken in and sprayed graffiti everywhere, broken toilets and things like that. So, now we’re just trying to clean it up, beautify it as much as possible.”

Roberson hopes by transforming the building with new signage, an improved stage, fresh paint and lighting it can make a larger impact.

“Us lighting up this strip can give people some positive thoughts and hopefully that leads to positive change in the community,” said Roberson.

Darryl Smith is a barber across the street. He believes what will make the most important is to involve the youth on the east side.

“Everybody going to get business. Us, the mini-market, everybody going to get some business,” said Smith, “At this point in time, that’s what really needs to be done. I understand we can have a lot of fun over there but keep the youth involved and keep them off the streets.”

And that’s the plan. Along with starting a clean-up crew to keep the streets clean following events at the Emerson, Roberson and his partners want to create a community space. Roberson has ideas to include local schools and offer a space for music lessons and programs.

“Seeing things like IPS come in here to possibly do plays, comedy shows, things like that – possibly weddings,” Roberson explained.

Shining the spotlight back on the Emerson Theater and the people who live there.

“I’d like to see some of these pieces of Indiana history stay here for future generations,” said Roberson.

The Emerson Theater open for their first show on February 23.

If you would like to learn more and help their efforts, click here.

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