From Elizabeth Caruso
My father built this theatre in 1946. It was an empty lot. About a year later it had a major fire. It was determined to be arson. There were already two movie theaters across the street. -The Century and the Chief. Initially the fire chief thought my father might be responsible for insurance purposes until they realized he barely had it insured. After all, it was brand new and state of the art everything.
I still have the grand opening newspaper brochure. My father always felt he knew who did it and why. When the locals started going to South Bend and Benton Harbor, he decided to sell it in 1963, when I was in the 9th grade. Then in 1977, it caught on fire again -far worse than in 1947 or '48. It held a definite important part of Dowagiac history.
Source: Cinema Treasures
The Dowagiac Theatre was gutted by a $100,000 fire on November 22, 1977. The News-Palladium, which published a photo of the fire, noted that it was constructed in the mid-1940’s after being destroyed by fire during World War II.
Sanborn Maps show a theatre was built at this location between 1931 and 1933, nearly across the street from the Century Theatre.
According to Motion Picture Herald, August 14, 1946, Paul Caruso had opened the 400-seat Caruso Theater featuring a crying room. In 1963 it was still called the Caruso Theatre. In 1971 it was operated by Donald White, who opened the new Southtown Twin in St. Joseph in July. On November 23, 1977 the Dowagiac Theatre was gutted by a fire.
Contributed by Ron Pierce
Source: Ami Caruso Greenway
This was my father's business. The Caruso Theater, it was built in 1946 for my father Paul Caruso. At this time I am uncertain about relevant data to do with it's history. It was sold by my farther in 1965. Further details will be added as they are obtained. Pictures If available will also be added.