Ticket to history: Theaters once were focal point of downtown Greenfield

At one time there were three theaters in downtown Greenfield.

McCleerey’s Sporting Goods was the site of the State Theater. According to the owners, the projection booth is still in the upstairs.

The Riley, also called the Why Not Theater, was at the location of the National Road Insurance Co. The shape of the old theater is outlined with a white strip at the top.

The third was the Weil Theater, which was later called The Village and now is known as the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts.

Pat Elmore provides us with a picture of the last day of operation for The Village, June 23, 2003. This was the last movie establishment to operate in downtown Greenfield. Walter Weil owned the Weil Theater and the Weil Lumber Co. He had extensive real estate holdings, and he owned stock in the Greenfield Banking Co. He died in 1956.

I went to an Indiana Bicentennial planning meeting recently for Hancock County. On Dec. 11, 2016, Indiana will be 200 years old.

I believe the first white settlers entered Hancock County in 1818. It was vast wilderness in which there were numerous American Indians. The first school house was a log cabin built in Blue River Township about 1823.

In 1824, Joshua Wilson built the first grist mill in Blue River Township. The first blacksmith was Thomas Phillips, who had his shop in 1822 on the Blue River. The first tavern was erected near Greenfield in 1826. The first store in the county was owned by Elijah Tyner, also on the Blue River.

The first road into the county was the Napoleon Trace, which is probably County Road 700E.

Hancock County was cut off from Madison County in 1828. It was then named for John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress, which adopted the Declaration of Independence.

During the presidential election of 1828, the first since Hancock County was established, 101 people voted, and the county population was probably 400 individuals.

Hancock County’s first exports were ginseng, venison, furs and tow linen. The Blue River is the largest stream in the county, and it was a good mill stream for the pioneers.

The three original townships of the county were Blue River, Brandywine and Sugar Creek, which were organized in 1828.

Enough. I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, Ind. 46140.