35 years ago: RTV6 Anchor Howard Caldwell visits Franklin’s Artcraft Theatre

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 06:01:01-05

FRANKLIN — Generations of Hoosiers have passed through the doors of Franklin’s Artcraft Theatre.

One of those visitors was former Channel 6 anchor Howard Caldwell.

Caldwell visited the Artcraft in January 1984, where he spoke with general manager Reginald Hartman, a man many patrons knew well.

“I greet everyone at night when they come to the movies, try to say goodnight to all of them when they leave,” Hartman said.

Irene Petro was another familiar face at the Artcraft. Petro was also known as the "Popcorn Lady." Petro popped popcorn at the Artcraft for more than 30 years.

The Artcraft Theatre was built in 1922 by Frank Rembusch. Prior to building the Artcraft, Rembusch built the Alhambra in Shelbyville in 1912. His family believed the Alhambra was the first theater in the country built for the sole purpose of showing movies.

Frank Rembusch’s son, Trueman Rembusch, purchased and renovated the Artcraft Theatre in 1936. The moviehouse underwent another renovation in 1948. That’s when much of the theater’s Art Deco touches and neon lights were installed.

Caldwell spoke with Trueman Rembusch’s son, Mike Rembusch, about the theater’s presence in Franklin.

“I don’t know any kids today even today, who want to sit home with mom and dad on a Friday night, especially if they have a date, and watch a video tape on television with mom and dad," Rembusch said. "They still want to get out and have something to do. I think the theaters in our smaller towns give them that opportunity.”

Franklin’s small town atmosphere allows the Artcraft to continue to do things differently.

Every movie showing is preceded with a classic cartoon reel as well as the singing of the national anthem. Evening showings include a live skit as well as prize drawings.