Historic Timeline

  • 1922: On November 2nd, The Palace Theatre opens as South Bend’s newest venue on the Orpheum Theatre Circuit featuring Vaudeville and silent movies.

  • 1923-1929: Vaudeville reigns with performances from Harry Houdini, Burns & Allen, Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys, “The Little Rascals,” and Amos & Andy. And, the first movie with sound plays the Palace (1929).

  • 1930-1950: The Palace is the place to go for plays and movies from 25 cents every day of the week and newsreels and cartoons on Saturday mornings.

  • 1940: On October 4th, “Knute Rockne All American” starring Ronald Regan as George Gipp (“The Gipper”) and Pat O’Brien as Knute Rockne has its world premier at the Palace. Thousands line the streets for this star-studded event.  Hollywood stars in attendance include Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Jane Wyman, Kate Smith, Pat O’Brien and Rudy Vallee.

  • 1951-1958: The Palace struggles to stay open and hosts only a few events including The Seven Year Itch and the Gene Autry Show.

  • 1959: Due to the popularity of television and the decline in the number of theatre goers, the Palace Theatre Board votes to demolish the theatre. Unable to part with the grand house, Mrs. Ella Morris, a local philanthropist and patron of the arts, purchases the Palace for an undisclosed sum and resells it to the City of South Bend for the sum of $1.00.

  • 1960: The Palace is renamed the Morris Civic Auditorium. The South Bend Symphony makes the Morris its home.

  • 1961-1965: The Morris Civic Auditorium slowly begins a revival with the new resident users, Broadway Theatre League and South Bend Symphony Orchestra bring in patrons back to the theater.

  • 1963: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and Orchestra play the Morris Civic.

  • 1966-1967: A remarkable season at the Morris Civic with performances from the Beach Boys, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Guy Lombardo, Lovin Spoonfuls, Betty Grable in “Hello Dolly,” and Victor Borge.

  • 1968-1969: Marvin Gaye plays the Morris Civic and James Brown returns for the fourth year in a row.

  • 1970: Hank Williams, Will Rogers, Stevie Wonder and Jerry Lee Lewis visit the Morris Civic this year.

  • 1971-1972: The season starts with the Lettermen and ends with Cheech & Chong.

  • 1973: The busiest season since the 1930s, the Morris Civic hosts Van Cliburn, REO Speedwagon and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

  • 1974: The Eagles, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Mott the Hoople, ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, Aerosmith, and Styx rock the Morris.

  • 1975: Classic ‘70s with the Bill Gather Trio, Conway Twitty, Marshall Tucker Band, Average White Band, Loretta Lynn, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Lou Reed, the Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac, Aaerosmith with Rush, Sha-Na-Na and Foghat all appearing.

  • 1976-1977: Crowds flock the Morris to see Ted Nugent, Arlo Guthrie, Rush, the Funkadelics, Heart and Kool and the Gang.

  • 1979: The Morris welcomes Harry Chapin, “Grease,” B.B. King, Robert Palmer, Judas Priest, Freddie Fender, Cameo and Southold Dance Theater performs their first “Nutcracker” ballet that December.

  • 1980: Todd Rungren, Eddie Money and the Mohammed Ali Fight Telecast make up a variety of Morris events.

  • 1985: On June 5th, the Palace Theatre building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

  • 1981-1986: George Thorogood, REO Speedwagon and Styx return several times to rock the Morris.

  • 1987-1989: Broadway is big in the late ‘80s with Ben Vereen starring in Pippin, the first appearance of the musical Cats and Debbie Reynolds performs.

  • 1990: Chess is the largest musical to date on the Morris Stage – so large that the first night’s show was over two hours late in starting while crews worked feverishly to get ready.

  • 1991: Rock legend, Bob Dylan, plays the Morris.

  • 1992: Tool Man Tim Allen and magician, David Copperfield, play to sold-out audiences.

  • 1993-1996: Bad Company, Kenny G, Harry Connick Jr., and Hootie and the Blowfish all perform.

  • 1997: Smokey Joe’s Café is the last performance before renovations.

  • 1998: The stage house is demolished as workers prepare for extensive $16.7 million renovations.

  • 2000: In February, renovations are completed after having been closed for over 26 months. On March 3rd, the newly renamed Morris Performing Arts Center hosts a ribbon cutting ceremony and “Chicago” musical for renovation donors to recognize their contributions to the fundraising. On March 19th, the Morris opens to rave reviews with a grand reopening community celebration featuring actor Ben Vereen.  For the first time in the history of the theater, the Morris was listed on Pollstar Magazine's Top 100 Theaters Worldwide (based on ticket sales.)

  • 2001: Sold-out shows include country star, Jo Dee Messina who opens her first headline tour and comedians Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and Carrot Top; also Blues Clues, Hoosier Lottery, “Can a Woman Make a Man Lose His Mind?”

  • 2002: Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy sold out. On December 31st, The Palais Royale (ballroom of the Morris Center) reopens with a grand New Year’s Eve dinner/dance celebration following an extensive $6.9 million renovation after being closed and unused since 1968. 

  • 2003: Sold-out shows include band Chicago, Anne Murray; comedian Jerry Seinfeld; and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. And, the Morris Bistro Restaurant opened in the lower level as “the Place to Go Before the Show” offering dinner before most evening performances and private events for up to 100 people.

  • 2004: Sold-out shows include rock band Godsmack and jazz singer Harry Connick, Jr.; and the Broadway show Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.

  • 2005: On November 2nd, the unveiling ceremony held for the new $689,021 state-of-the art electronic  marquee funded completely by donations from the community to Morris Entertainment, Inc.  The new marquee replaces the original one that was removed from the building sometime in the late 1950s by previous owners and was temporarily replaced by a flat reader board. The new 57’ wide marquee, designed by Wagner Electric Sign Company of Elyria, Ohio, includes chaser lights, search lights, and a full color Daktronics ProStar display. Sold-out shows this year include: rock bands Styx and Alice Cooper; comedians Bill Engvall, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry the Cable Guy; Gospel band Gaither Vocal Band; and teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney.

  • 2006: On February 15th, pop/rock band The Moody Blues holds rehearsals for its new spring world tour and performs their first concert of the tour at the Morris. And on November 24th, Country artist Kenny Rogers rehearses and performs his first concert  of his new “Christmas & Hits” show at the Morris. And, sold-out shows include: pop/rock artists Moody Blues, Chicago, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon with Blue Oyster Cult, Staind, James Taylor; country artist Trace Adkins and Loretta Lynn; Christian bands Casting Crowns; comedians Friends of Bob & Tom; and Blue Man Group show.

  • 2007: On May 10th, Economic Impact Study completed by Saint Mary’s College Department of Business Administration and Economics and Mathematics shows that the Morris has a $5.9 million economic impact on the City of South Bend.  Sold-out shows include rock bands Goo Goo Dolls, Godsmack, ZZ Top; comedians Carlos Mencia, Ron White, Friends of Bob & Tom; and the show Celtic Woman.

  • 2008: Sold-out shows include musical groups Crosby, Stills & Nash, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and Mannheim Steamroller; and comedians Jeff Dunham and Bob & Tom Comedy All-Stars.

  • 2009: On February 27th, Blues artist Bonnie Raitt rehearses and performs her first concert of her new spring tour at the Morris. And, Sold-out shows this year include: rock bands Styx with Kansas and comedians Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld.

  • 2010: On February 20th, all free tickets given out for the Morris Live! Presents “10th Year Celebration – Thank You South Bend” to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Morris renovations.  A crowd of more than 1,500 people attends the event featuring a wide variety of area artists who donats their time and talent for the event. And, sold-out shows this year include: jazz singer Harry Connick, Jr.; rocker John Mellencamp; musical groups Straight No Chaser and Mannheim Steamroller; and comedians Ron White and Cheech & Chong. 

  • 2011: Sold-out shows include musical artists James Taylor, Darius Rucker, Straight No Chaser, and The Avett Brothers. And, renovations totaling $717,000 were completed on grand lobby front entrance doors, grand lobby windows, and lower level restrooms and restoration of original 1921 exterior north brick wall was completed.

  • 2012: Sold-out shows include: country artist Trace Adkins and two sold out performances by comedian Daniel Tosh.

  • 2013: In June, Economic Impact Study completed by Saint Mary’s College Department of Business Administration and Economics shows that the Morris Performing Arts Center (theater and ballroom) had a $10.5  million economic impact on the City of South Bend in 2012.  This figure includes a total direct spending inside and outside the Morris and the Palais Royale.  It was determined that the Morris (theater) alone had a $6.7 million impact in 2012.  And, a record-breaking 16 performances each were held of Broadway blockbuster shows Wicked May 8-19 and Jersey Boys November 26-December 8.  Sold-out shows include: Harry Connick, Jr.; Earth, Wind and Fire; and the acappella sensation Straight No Chaser. And, filming for the new Celtic Woman “Emerald: Musical Gems” DVD to be released and aired on PBS stations in 2014 films at the Morris during the Celtic Woman “Believe” show on April 9. Dramatic lighting is used in the theater which showcases the beautiful architectural highlights of the historic venue. Audience members are  treated to some delightful encore music and dance performances as the producers film “retakes” for the new DVD.

  • 2014: Sold-out shows to date include: Aziz Ansari, Disney Live! “Mickey’s Music Festival” and Move On Tour.
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