The Park Theatre – 1016 Penn St

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The Park Theater opened November 11, 1926, and it was closed by a fire on May 19, 1978. The theater was demolished the following year.

James S. Maurer operated the theater as a X-rated movie and live burlesque house, and in 1964 he was arrested along with two strippers in a raid by the Reading police.  In the late 1950s and 1960s, the raids were fairly common.  Maurer eventually bought the theater building, circa 1975.  The building may have been leased to a New Jersey company in 1976, but Maurer was still involved in the management and operation of the theater.  Burlesque shows returned, and he was arrested in another raid in January 1977. On May 3, 1978, the city declared the Park Theater and the adjoining Daniel Boone Hotel “unfit for human habitation”.  Maurer appealed the ruling and both businesses stayed open, but shortly after, the fire destroyed everything.


One of the featured strippers, “Jada” was connected to Jack Ruby and the Carousel Club in Dallas:

According to his 1993 Obituary,

James S. Maurer, died June 28, 1993, age 69.

President of James S. Maurer Investments, Inc.

Owned the Park Theater, the Park Luncheonette, the Frontier Bar, the Daniel Boone Hotel and the Park Bowling Alley.

In May, 1978, a fire destroyed the theater and damaged the hotel.  Two months later, a fire destroyed the hotel and taproom.

In January, 1979, charges of arson against Maurer were dropped following a hearing before a district justice.  He had been charged in December, 1978, with starting the blaze.

He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for mayor in 1967.

He appeared several times before a federal grand jury in Philadelphia, which probed kickbacks to officials in Reading and Berks County.

Huge thanks to David Procter for putting together all of this information!

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D Brown
D Brown
5 years ago

Very interesting information but where was it located? I’m way too young to remember any of this and would like to know

Jerrilyn Carter
Jerrilyn Carter
5 years ago

I remember the Park Theater very well!!

David Procter
David Procter
5 years ago

True confession: We must have been sixteen years old in 1963, and Bob E. and I made fake ID cards to get into the burlesque show one Friday night. They were terrible-looking card, but they were accepted by the ticket taker as we walked into the theater. We got a kick out of the bananas joking about “Art, Bart and…..Fargo” (still remember that). Three strip shows, and when she got towards the end, the spotlighting would change to red – and she finished stripping all the way down until she was completely nude. Pretty exciting for sixteen-year old boys in those days. Glad we did it, now, as burlesque shows have disappeared. Part of “Americana”.

Joe F
Joe F
4 years ago

My friend and I stayed in adjoining rooms in the Daniel Boone Hotel for a few months in very late 1970-71. We were both there from Philly on temporary basis. and remember the crappy bar at the left when you entered. The Hotel was on the left (east) side of the entire building — and an elevator took you to the upper floors. A very cheap place – residents were bums, old me, rummies, etc. It was a flea bag place but without the fleas, heh. Dark and dingy inside and in the small lobby.

Harry Kissinger
Harry Kissinger
3 years ago

Very good article. James Maurer was my grandfather. I could tell you some good stories lol

Joseph Shaulis
Joseph Shaulis
2 months ago

I remember going to the park theater in the 1970s my friend’s aunt was the cashier and she would let us in even though we were not old enough .it was the first time I seen a porn movie there was a lot of old men in the theater

Berks Nostalgia