Located at the corner of NE 9th Street & Spring Street. The Strand Theatre was opened February 21, 1920. By 1941 it was owned and operated by Goldman Theatres of Philadelphia. It was a fairly large theatre with a balcony, and had a huge wrap-around neon lit marquee. For years it was a neighborhood double feature second run house.
In around 1968, Goldman began to program first run features. In 1970, the Strand Theatre was badly damaged in a fire, which occurred around the same time as a fire which destroyed the Embassy Theatre in downtown Reading. The fire at the Strand Theatre was set by three kids, and it possibly never reopened. In 1972 the property was sold to Budco, however, it was torn down and replaced by a restaurant. – Cinema Treasures
Penn Street – North Side – 400 Block….1940s…Reading: We look to the Northeast corner to the landmark Saylor food business stand. In the foreground is car 809 as it appeared in 1947, end-of-the-line year for city trolleys. Looking to the background is an imposing grey-stone structure built as Reading Girls’ High School. At this juncture, it was Reading’s “special school” for students with learning problems.
Off to the right is a large old building that years ago was the Roosevelt Hotel. At the time this picture was taken – on Oct. 13th, 1946 – its lower level contained two retail stores, one of which was the Charles Store, which soon afterwards moved across the street to the building occupied by Sears & Roebuck prior to their relocation to Lancaster Avenue in Shillington.
Looking to the North Side of Penn Street, Warner Theatre – 755 Penn – 1940s – Courthouse in Background, Reading: Most prominent in this view is the imposing sign for the Embassy. Between the Embassy and northwest corner of 8th and Penn was the Warner, a relatively simple theatre with aisles on the left and right sides of the auditorium. Originally, when the theatre-site was developed as the Hippodrome, Reading’s premiere vaudeville house, the auditorium and stage were huge. The west end, perpendicular to Penn, was cut by 2/3 – for storeroom creation – and what was left became the State Theatre, a venue largely characterized by the showing of cowboy films. Indeed, Roy Rogers made a personal visit in Dec. 1938. In 1941, Warner Brothers leased the theater and proceeded to make major renovations; a new marquee, box office, lobby, restrooms, and a smoking room! The theatre, with seating for 1,228, opened Apr. 12, 1941. Like the Astor, the Plaza, and other theatres experiencing dwindling audiences and revenue, latter-day fare increasingly included R-rated films. On March 14, 1963, the Warner closed and was removed to make way for the projected Penn Street Mall, an ill-fated venture if there ever was one! -Photo Courtesy of Joseph DeAngelo
All images and copy from the Passing Scene
Opened as the Fox Theatre on 21, Aug. 1964 and was located in the Muhlenberg Shopping Center on the 5th Street Highway (Rt.222), just north of Reading. The Fox Theatre was renamed the Fox North Theatre when Fox opened the Fox East Theatre on 3 May, 1971. The Fox North Theatre was equipped for 70mm film. It had one screen and boasted 525 seats.
The Fox Theatre was built and operated by Fox Theatres of Reading PA. The original manager of the Fox was Paul Angstadt who later became mayor of Reading.
At that time Fox Theatres of Reading was a weak sister in the Reading market. The Reading market was considered by the distributors at that time to be part of the Philadelphia territory and thus Fox was competing for product with the Colonial (Stanley Warner), the Embassy (Fabian), the Astor (William Goldman) and later the Eric (Sameric). All of these major chains had a large presence in Philadelphia and product was often split and pictures were often ‘blocked booked’ based upon a chain’s control of what was happening in Philadelphia. Since Fox Theatres of Reading did not have any venues in Philadelphia they often struggled to get pictures for the Fox in Reading despite being a premium 70MM house.
“I remember at one time the Fox was reduced to playing Deep Throat in 1972 for lack of product. Although the Fox did play Star Wars for over a year, it was then unable to secure “Empire Strikes Back” which played across the street on one side of the Eric bowling alley twin in mono sound while the 70MM Fox played some third rate piece of junk in 35mm. According to what we were told at the time Empire had been block booked into all of the Sameric theatres in the Philadelphia territory which is why the Fox could not get Empire.” – Muviebuf – Cinema Treasures
The theatre closed in 1988, and the building is currently housed by a Pep Boys.
The Ritz Theatre was located at 819 Penn Street, across from the Kissinger-Farmer’s Market. It was originally called the Crescent Theatre when it opened:
The Crescent Theatre was opened in 1910. In 1913 it was renamed Princess Theatre. It was re-named Arcadia Theatre in 1928, taking the name of the Arcadia Theatre which had burnt down that year. Closed for several years in the 1930’s, it was reopened as the Ritz Theatre in 1941. By 1950, it was operated by the Fabian Theaters chain. It was demolished in the 1950’s. –Cinema Treasures
A 1928 Reading Eagle article:
The Ritz Theatre was torn down in 1950s to make room for a parking lot.
A single-screen cinema, the movie theatre in the Berkshire Mall, showed its first feature August 26, 1970. It sat where Firehouse Subs and Five Below are now. The venue would be in operation until 1982. From 1970-1973 it was owned by Fabian Theatre, 1973-1982 United Artists and called Movies 1 2 3. It was expanded across the street to Berkshire Mall West, where Old Country Buffet used to be. Eventually it moved to it’s current location at 800 Berkshire Blvd. It was owned by Fox Theatres Management from 1982-1997, in which it was then sold to Carmike Cinemas. Carmike owned the current theatre until just a few years ago in which Fox bought it yet again.
Have any images of this theatre in it’s heyday? Would love to share them. firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing of the mall location in 1982: