Since 1940, the REES Theatre in Plymouth, IN has provided arts, culture, and family entertainment.  In 2009, sadly the theater closed, leaving a void in the community.  

Actual REES Theatre Photos since 1940. The Gem Theater was owned by Ellis & Stewart Rees and The REES by Stewart Jr. and Opal.

REES memorabilia shares the many people, including well-known stars, who performed at our theater.

The REES History

The theater was originally built by Badgley Construction Company. Alves O’Keefe (engineer and architect) designed the REES Theatre as well as many buildings in Plymouth and the surrounding areas. The REES compared favorably to any theater in the Midwest. The cost was $75,000 in 1940. Construction began in August 1939 with tearing down the third floor of the former VanVactor building. Twelve steel beams were delivered with the longest being 42’ and weighing approximately four tons. The building footprint is 41.5' x 126'. A 1940 newspaper article stated, “Mr. Rees has neglected nothing and the beautiful play-house reflects his vision and the ability to put that vision into concrete form.”

The Art Deco Design

The REES Theatre was built with Art Deco design and included the most modern conveniences.

  • The original seating for 600 was installed with the latest style of theater chairs. Smaller aisles and seats let them accommodate larger crowds.

  • The chairs consisted of fully-padded mohair backs and spring edged cushions. Larger chairs were added in the 1980’s reducing the seating to 400, with ample space between rows. The original seats cost just under $10. each.

  • Fluorescent lighting was used to light the theater when films were not shown

  • Excellent heating and air-cooled in the summer, had a variation of just two to three degrees.

  • Screen size was 20’ wide and 14’6” high. Today's screen is 34’ wide and 16’ high.

  • The marquee was completely restored in 1997.

This landmark like so many others has such a storied past that we wish to pay tribute to those visionaries who created and maintained it along the way.
— Randy Danielson, Project Co-chair

REES Theatre Ownership

In 1920, there were three theaters in Plymouth: The Orpheum, The Gem and The Rialto. The Gem Theatre opened in 1913.  Today, there are also three in Plymouth: Showland, Tri-Way Drive-In and The REES Theatre.

  • March 18, 1926 - In 1925, the Ellis Rees Family bought the Gem Theater located on East Garro Street from C.W. Metsker and re-opened it in 1926 with the showing of “The Keeper of the Bees” boasting seating for 375.

  • February 1, 1940 - In August of 1939, Stewart “Stewie” Rees and his wife Opal purchased a three story brick structure known as the VanVactor Building at the corner of Michigan and LaPorte Street and after just seven months of work had their opening premier with “Remember the Night”.

  • 1950 – 1972 - The theater was managed by Wilbur and Faye Weatherhead who cared for it as if it were their own.  

  • 1953 – 1983 - Culver residents Evert & Sadie Hoesel retained ownership.

  • September 1983 - Jeff Housouer became the new owner

  • May 1987 - John & Gwen Hoesel owned and operated the theater with sons David and Frederick. 

  • December 22, 2009 - The REES Theatre was closed with the final showing of “Old Dogs”.

  • September 2013 - The landmark theater building was purchased by local merchants Brian and Lori Van Duyne and Jim and Judy Vinall.

  • January 2017 - Property purchased by Wythougan Valley Preservation Council.  The REES became a not-for-profit with the initial financial donation made by Randy and Eleanor Danielson.  The REES Project Committee is overseeing the renovation/restoration.

  • January 2018 - Department Of The Treasury recognizes The REES Theatre Inc. as a public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3.

  • February 2018 - Property was transferred from Wythougan Valley Preservation Council to The REES Theatre Inc.