Unlike many of the larger scale theaters around the state, the Circle Theater was designed in the Neo-Classical style instead of the Spanish Revival Style. Since it was constructed in 1916 it predates many of these other theaters and the full glamour and escapism of motion pictures had not yet hit. The Circle Theater was one of the first “deluxe movie palaces” in the Midwest built specifically for feature-length movies. Located on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, it fills a portion of the southeast quadrant of the Circle.
Architects Preston Rubush and Edgar Hunter designed the main façade to follow the curves of the road therefore the façade is concave. Covered in white terra cotta, there are a series of subtle exterior decorative features--simple molded panels, a bracketed cornice and pediment across the top, rosettes and swag garlands. However the marquee and a restored Grecian mural dominate the façade. The relatively subdued decorative scheme carries over to the interior. Shades of rose, ivory, and gray prevail throughout. There are plaster moldings and Greek figurines but the senses are not overwhelmed like they would be in a later theater.
The Circle Theater continued to host movies, concerts, and live acts until 1981 although it suffered due to increased competition from suburban multiplexes. It was facing demolition when a series of Indianapolis organizations banded together to save it. In 1982, the Circle underwent a major restoration and celebrated its re-opening in 1984 as the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Indianapolis Power and Light owned the property but they leased it to the Symphony. In 1990 the Symphony was able to purchase the Theater and they retain ownership today.