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Penn Theater - New Castle PA

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The Penn Theater, owned by the West Penn Photoplay Company, opened for business on North Mercer Street in April 1920. The state-of-the-art theater, with a 2,000 seat auditorium and marble floors, was designed by local architects C. C. and A. L. Thayer with assistance by county engineer Thomas A. Gilkey. Silent movies and stage performances ruled the day initially as the first “talkie” was not shown in this theater until February 1929. A portion of the ground floor was leased out to various businesses over the years, including to the Ellen Kay women’s clothing store, Dr. H. H. Rosenthal’s optometry office, and Jack Gerson’s Jewelry. The building was purchased by the adjacent First National Bank of Lawrence County in late 1967, and the theater went dark for good on May 1, 1968. The bank subsequently renovated the theater and used the space to expand its operations. (1928) Full Size


An advertisement for the 1927 film Wings starring the iconic Clara Bow (“The It Girl”). This film, about the air war during World War I, launched the career of screen legend Gary Cooper and won the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929. (Oct 1928) Full Size





February 1940 advertisement for the upcoming showing of Gone With The Wind.


The Penn Theater, located on North Mercer Street, was opened for business in 1920 and was in active service until closed down in 1968. (1935) Full Size


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Comment

  1. The Sunday Cleveland Plain Dealer of November 23, 1975, contained an interview of Cleveland’s famous son Bob Hope, then age 72. In part (Section Four—9), it says:

    Q. How did you get into comedy?

    HOPE: Oh, I found out that comedy was the best, and I could handle it. And just introducing an act in New Castle, Pa.—the manager asked me to go out and introduce the next show—and I did and told a couple of Scotch jokes. I got laughs and I kept padding for the three days. When I finished, I was practically doing a monologue. I was told, “That’s the kind of act you ought to do. That’s what they need today.” So I broke up my dancing act and started doing a single monologue.

    (I corrected a minor error the PD made, putting the close quotation mark at the end of Bob’s answer instead of at the end of his advisor’s comment.— Richard)

    I am guessing that Bob’s comedic start was at the Penn Theater.

    Richard Kovacs · 06/25/2014 02:31 PM · #

  2. I remember that the Penn Theater often had stage performances as well as movies. One visit I’ll never forget was the screen release sometime around the end of July 1965 when the Beatles movie “Help” was released. Our local band was hired to perform, and of course, we opened with the title song “Help”. There were (I think) about 100 or so screaming girls who went wild when we started up. It was just like the Beatlemania seen on the Ed Sullivan show! What an experience! It’s been almost 49 years ago, but I still get the same electric chill up my spine as I did then when I think about it.

    Dr. Gene Cioffi · 06/26/2014 04:20 PM · #

  3. Good post. Thanks.

    link · 12/01/2014 10:38 PM · #

  4. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Bob Hope actually got his start in comedy, so to speak, at the Capitol Theater (old Opera House) in New Castle. He performed there for three nights in late February 1928. Jeff

    Jeff Bales (EDITOR) · 01/23/2016 04:37 AM · #

  5. Had a job there while in high school as an usher.

    John Hake · 09/19/2016 04:06 PM · #