The Shillington Theatre was located at 29 E Lancaster Ave between Liberty and Brobst St. It opened Sept. 3rd, 1949.
It was not until the late 1960’s that the Shillington was able to run movies on Sundays due to the local municipality refusing to repeal and continuing to enforce Pennsylvania’s antiquated “blue laws”. Blue Laws forbade entertainment (and bars) being open on Sundays unless the local municipality voted otherwise. Around this same time manager of the Shillington Theatre, Marguerite Nagle, purchased the theater and would run it as an owner for the next decade and into the 1980s. She began her career in 1965 when she was hired as assistant manager at the Colonial Theater on the 700 block of Penn Street. She then became manager of the Colonial when Bert Leighton retired until the Colonial Theater closed in 1969.
Around 1968 the Shillington was switched to first-run for a short time; after most of the aging downtown Reading first-run theaters were closed or burned down. Once the suburban mall theaters around Berks County opened the theater reverted back to showing second run films. In 1976 Marguerite converted to an automated platter projection system.
Marguerite then twinned the building in May 1978. A wall was built directly down the center of the theatre, turning it into two smaller theaters. She also added an apartment above the marquee in 1979. Her ownership of the theater came to an end when she sold it to Fox in June of 1983.
In the late 1970’s through its closing in the late 1980’s the Shillington became a quasi- art house showing more popular art house product. If I recall “The Gods Must Be Crazy” played one screen of the Shillington for at least 6 months to the point where the print became almost destroyed and missing the last few minutes (but they continued to play it anyway).
(User muviebuf’s recollections from Cinema Treasures.com)
Huge thanks to Keith Verros who contributed images and information to this article