OLDEST -- Movie Theater in the U.S.A. - Newtown, PA
N 40° 13.846 W 074° 56.198
18T E 505390 N 4453372
Quick Description: Welcome to the oldest movie theater in the U.S. which also double as a live theater. The first move was shown here in 1906. The theater still retains most of its original charm. Documentation is available out front on an interpretive.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 5/13/2010 7:49:10 PM
Waymark Code: WM8V2B
I had the opportunity to take a tour of this wonderful facility. The interior has remain largely unchanged. Upstairs in the projection room, I saw the same piece of movie showing equipment which has been in use since 1939. The balcony was spectacular with original balustrades lining the front. Vintage props and other movie-going collectibles are around the movie theater as well. There is a date on a metal plaque at the very tippy-top of the front. There are two dates, the original construction date of 1831 and the reconstruction date of 1883. The superlative status was confirmed form Wikipedia, the interpretive out front, and the website of this theatre.
The Newtown Theatre has an extensive history dating back to 1831. It is, in fact, the oldest movie theater in the United States with it's first movie being shown in 1906. Originally built to be a hall for town gatherings and a "non sectarian" church for traveling ministers, it soon became a center of entertainment in Newtown.
By the early 1850's the "Newtown Hall" (As it was then called) was used regularly for performances. These ranged from social dances to concerts, to theatrical productions, and magic lantern shows . In 1883, the building was reconstructed, larger than the first, and designed with stage performances in mind. However, a fire escape from the balcony was not added until 1904.
In 1906 the first movie was shown. In 1936, the interior of the building was redone and new equipment was purchased to enhance the movie-going experience. With the coming of Television and modern movies, Newtown Hall movies were becoming outdated. Rescued in 1953 by the Newtown Community Welfare Council, who now serve as trustees, the little theatre survives complete with the flavor and posters of a bygone era. In 1972, Amos Farruggio, a movie buff and licensed projectionist, rented the hall from the Council, spruced it up, and kept the theatre alive in Newtown until his death. The theatre was then ably run by his wife, Mrs. Farruggio until her death in June of 2005.
Change came again to the theatre on April 29, 1999 when after years of use one of the Theatres old Carbon Arc lamps broke, and the old two projector system was rearranged to accommodate a newer xenon lamp system, and a platter, no longer will the projectionist have to change from machine to machine every 20 minutes, but all things being equal, the original flavor of the theatre still remains.
The old play props are now covered with dust behind the screen at the Newtown Theatre, relics of another era...
The theatre had Air Conditioning installed in 2002 for the Gala showing of "Signs" that was filmed in part in Newtown. The theatre now has upgraded sound with the installation of Sony SDDS and DTS, and recently updated the older optical sound system to a Red Light Reader to accommodate the newer film formats.
Visit HERE to see the brick selling campaign website. They are still selling bricks.