Colonial Theatre Most Likely To Be Demolished

posted by GrandValleyHoldingsLP on November 12, 2004 at 10:11 am

ALLENTOWN, PA — After 16 years of owner Mark Mendelson letting the Colonial Theater sit vacant and rotting, the City of Allentown has issued a final ultimatum… again… for the building.

This time however, the City appears ready to take action as the building is in danger of collapse with 16 or so years of water pouring in the building now has a sinkhole — which is dooming the building.

The building was closed when Mendelson bought it in 1988 and was in fairly good condition at the time. The roof was let go and that completely destroyed the building. Repairs were started about 3 years ago on the roof, but quickly stopped before the building was secured.

Additional coverage:
Initial story
Latest news
Story about the Colonial’s owner and his affect on Allentown

Theaters in this post

Comments (8)

Seth on November 12, 2004 at 1:06 pm

For crying out loud. Am I going to have to rent a car again? Can’t they delay demolition until the spring when the weather will be better for driving and taking pictures? The landlord sounds like a real cockroach.

muviebuf on November 13, 2004 at 12:34 am

Save your gas. The building is falling down. The interior was gutted in the late 80’s before Al Moffa sold the place. The seats from the Colonial ended up (and are still today) in the Roxy Northampton (run by Cinema Treasures favorite Richard Wolfe). I got some of the boxoffice signs and projection equipment.

Seth on November 13, 2004 at 9:34 am

How about the facade? Anything to see at all? I just went to see the Jordan, which was a disaster inside, but presentable from the outside.

muviebuf on November 14, 2004 at 5:32 pm

Actually the exterior four walls still do not look that bad. However I would not get too close. Much of the roof is gone and one of these days the whole thing will collapse.

telliott on November 14, 2004 at 6:35 pm

Sad, sad commentary on the state of downtown Allentown. I have many fond memories of visiting my aunt who lived on Walnut St from the time I was a child until the mid seventies. Many times I went to the movies at the Colonial plus the Capri, Rialto, Eric, Boyd and the Plaza out at Whitehall Mall. The last time I visited Allentown was in 1989 and the Hamilton St Mall still looked OK. The Americus Hotel looked fine and was run by Ramada (I think) I saw the Colonial still standing and back then it looked pretty good. It’s too damn bad that something couldn’t be done a long time ago to save the theatre that I think was the biggest in Allentown. If Easton has the State and many other cities have former movie palaces now showing plays, concerts, Broadway shows etc the Allentown could have had the Colonial. No wonder so many downtowns are becoming places where people don’t go anymore. Sounds like if the Colonial and the Americus Hotel were restored then it would be a plus to the city of Allentown to have two historic places to go. What happened to the Eric which was built in the late 60’s and was so modern and comfortable?? I saw “Midnight Cowboy” there when I was 17 and couldn’t get in yet in Toronto where it was restricted to 18 and over.

muviebuf on November 14, 2004 at 11:20 pm

The former Eric in downtown Allentown became some sort of church I believe. It was gutted a few years ago. In the 1970’s it had been cut up into five screens. It was sad to see its projection equipment – including its matched set of Norelco 70MM heads – being sold as bulk lot on Ebay about 4 years ago.

The 1000 seat Plaza near Whitehall was cut into two in the 70’s and closed about 1997. I got some of the speakers from the Plaza when it closed. The more recently closed former GCC 8 plex inside the Whitehall Mall itself was just demolished within the past couple of months.

The older classic theatres that I know of which remain in the Lehigh Valley are: The Roxy Northampton (featured in the Cinema Trearures book),the Franklin (which was known for many years as the Jeannette) the Emmaus in Emmaus, the Boyd in downtown Bethlehem ,the 19th Street and the State in Easton. The former AMC 4 plex in Easton just reopened as a discount house by Nelson Page. Someone is also tying to re-open the former Eric in Easton (most recently called Cinema Paradiso).

Seth on November 19, 2004 at 2:56 pm

Any update on whether/when the demo will occur? If I remember right, the bids were due today. I might take a road trip Thanksgiving weekend to see it, if it will still be there. What I’m hoping for is that they’ll at least preserve the front portion of the theater, allowing me to come up and see it when the weather’s better and the days are longer.

muviebuf on November 21, 2004 at 10:51 pm

According to what I have heard the city awarded the demolition contract on Friday November 19th. I understand they are anxious to get it torn down before it falls down.

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