Officially opened 15 February 1915, the Hippodrome Theater at the southwest corner of Eighth and Ohio streets was referred to by New York vaudeville barons as "a magnificent temple of amusement."
Even esteemed Austrian-born theater architect John Ederson of Chicago, who designed the German Renaissance structure, expressed "unbounded satisfaction" with the result. The new theater was the brainchild of Theodore W. Barhydt who came to Terre Haute in 1897 to assume management of the Grand Opera House and, later managed the Lyric and Varieties theaters.
Indiana Governor Samuel M. Ralston and his wife were special guests for the grand opening and were seated in the box draped with an American flag on the west side of the theater. The orchestra played "Hail to the Chief" and Paul Dresser's "On the Banks of the Wabash" before the chief executive made some enthusiastic extemporaneous remarks. Among the talents in the troupe performing for the occasion were Neptune's Nymphs, Spencer and Williams Comedy Company, Florence Bain, Nina Morris and chanteuse Mademoiselle Evnette Asoria. Several vaudeville barons were present, including Joseph M. Finn, Marcus Heiman and Asher Levy of the Finn-Heiman circuit, the firm responsible for arranging the show. Telegrams were received from Martin Beck, Edward Albee, A. Paul Keith and other vaudeville moguls.
Many of the world's finest entertainers appeared at the Hippodrome in the first 15 years, including Al Jolsen, Valeska Suratt, Blossom Seeley and Ralph Bellamy. In 1920 Barhydt sold the theater to the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit and collaborated with Eberson once again to build the Indiana Theater. Later in the 1920s when vaudeville's popularity began to ebb as the success of motion pictures increased. Keith-Albee merged with the Orpheum Circuit forming the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Circuit. Films soon became the primary form of entertainment at the great vaudeville houses.
Until 1948 the Hippodrome was the home of the Community Theater of Terre Haute and the theater was used for legitimate stage performances and special events. Portions of the Hippodrome building were rented for offices. In 1949 the theater was converted to the Wabash Theater for motion pictures.
In December 1956 the former Hippodrome was acquired by the Scottish Rite,
which opened it's Cathedral and Museum in 1957. The building is well maintained
and may be toured by appointment. It may be Terre Haute's best kept
architectural secret and is one of fewer than 20 Eberson designed theaters
remaining in America.