BUILDING COMMUNITY THROUGH THEATRE
While driving along Main Street in downtown Muncie, Indiana, it is hard to miss Muncie Civic Theatre’s marquee and historic red brick building. The bright lights invite all who pass to come be a part of the magic of live theatre. This is the heart of Muncie Civic.
Founded in 1931 and housed since 1965 in the Boyce Block building, Muncie Civic is one of the oldest civic theatres in the state and is located in one of the oldest theaters in the country. Built in 1880, the commercial, office, and residential building, known to locals as the Boyce Block, has served a number of purposes over the years. The Italianate building was once described as the finest, handsomest, and most conveniently arranged commercial building in Muncie. It was the site of the negotiations and signing of the contract for the Ball Brothers to move their glass-making facilities from upstate New York to Muncie during the gas boom in the late nineteenth century.
In the early twentieth century, the Block’s two westernmost bays were transformed into an elaborate Vaudeville house with an iconic proscenium arch. The Star Theatre, which operated until the late 1920s, hosted nationally known acts such as W.C. Fields, the Marx brothers, Red Skelton, and many others. During the Prohibition years, local legend has it that the Star was used as a speakeasy. Over the years, the theater changed names and the type of entertainment it offered, ranging from Burlesque to refined Vaudeville to talking pictures.
In 1965, the building took on a new life and a new mission when the Muncie Civic Theatre Association, originally created in 1931 by William H. Ball, took over the space and began using it not only to entertain, but also to involve community members in live theatre and to enrich their lives. In the fifty years since, generations of families have shared the stage together, building family ties and creating lifelong memories. Muncie Civic has been and continues to be a cultural beacon in Muncie. It is a vital downtown presence, improving quality of place and providing artistic opportunities for local performers.