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Opera House/Capitol Theater - New Castle PA

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In the fall of 1867 a stock company, headed up by R. M. Allen and known as the New Castle Hall and Market Company, opened this building on South Mercer Street. The bottom floor served as a public market while the upper floor was a popular civic meeting place known as Shenango Hall. It was sold at a receiver’s sale to Jacob F. Genkinger in June 1898. It was soon remodeled into a fulltime theater and became known as the Opera House – and played host to various musical and vaudeville performances. The building was refashioned as the Capitol Theater in the early 1920’s and began showing moving pictures. The theater was destroyed by a disastrous fire on Sunday, February 23, 1932. It ruins were not fully cleared away until early 1938 and today the site is a parking lot. (c1905) Full Size


(Nov 1910)


(Mar 1915)Full Size


(Jan 1917)


(Mar 1921)


(Jun 1925)


(Jan 1928)


English-born Bob Hope (1903-2003) (on right) got his start in stand-up comedy in New Castle. He performed for three nights with a vaudeville show at the Capitol Theater in late February 1928. He was known as Les Hope and was part of a dancing and comedy duo known as Hope & Byrne. Anyway, at the end of the first evening he was asked to announce next week’s act. He told a joke and was an instant success. He eventually gave up the dancing act to concentrate on monologue-style comedy. He moved on to New York to do broadway shows, radio broadcasts, and small movies. In the late 1930’s he relocated to Hollywood to do motion pictures and within a few years he was a major star with Paramount Pictures. (c1925) (Library of Congress collection)


This small advertisement, which was difficult to find, sheds light on the timeframe that Bob Hope appeared in New Castle. It was difficult to read so I re-typed it here. (Feb 1928)


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