Oldest Continuously Operating Movie Theater?

posted by gdotao on August 9, 2004 at 5:31 am

PRYOR, OK — My name is Gene Oliver and I am the owner of the Allred Theater in Pryor, Oklahoma. The theater was opened in 1917 by J. F. Allred and my father bought it in 1963.

It has continuosly operated as a movie theater and never been dark. Nor has it operated as any other business. My interest is in the possibility that it may be the oldest continously operating movie theater in the nation. If not, possibly the oldest small town theater in continuous operation.

I would appreciate some help with this research.

Recently, the theater has been renovated with digital sound, high back recliner seating and renovation throughout. Also, I have renovated the auditoriums into 3 and added 2 more screens in another adjacent building. The next building has been purchased and another 2 screens will be added in the coming year.

Thank you.

Gene Oliver
The Allred
Pryor, Oklahoma

Comments (27)

muviebuf on August 9, 2004 at 6:34 am

There are several theatres that have been continuously operating for a longer period of time. The oldest that I am aware of is the Elks Theatre in Middletown Pennsylvania which opened on October 24, 1911 and (with the exception of a couple of months for upgrades in late 1940 through early 1941) has continuually operated as a movie theatre from the date of its opening. The website and history may be found at www.elkstheatremiddletown.com

The next oldest continually operating theatre that I am aware of is the State Theatre in Boyertown Pennsylvania which opened sometime in 1913.

JodarMovieFan on August 9, 2004 at 12:47 pm

Gene, can you post some pictures of your theater? Inside and out? I’m curious to see what your theater looks like.

rivest266 on August 9, 2004 at 3:56 pm

View link

The Patrica theatre in Powell River opened in 1913

JodarMovieFan on August 9, 2004 at 4:45 pm

The Elks Theatre looks like quite a treasure. The semi-circular theater arrangement reminds me a bit of the old Showscan theater we used to have in Virginia. Are there still any of those around?What I can’t believe is the $3 admission price! We don’t have anything priced that low in my area, not even matinees!

muviebuf on August 10, 2004 at 9:50 am

Also operating continuously from 1916 is the Strand Theatre in Kutztown Pennsylvania which is now a twin.

gdotao on August 11, 2004 at 8:30 am

Thanks all for the help..

Regarding pictures of the theater …just now I am in process
of adding 2 more screens….and am not savvy with posting pictures

When I finish the addition, I will have someone take pics and
post them..

thanks again.

Gene Oliver

del50 on September 14, 2004 at 3:36 am

The oldest cinema still opened that I have managed to track down in the world is that of the Municipal, Roxburgh, New Zealand. It was opened in October 1898. The population of Roxburgh is 650. The cinema was completely renovated in 2000.

rroberts on December 4, 2004 at 12:29 pm

OK, so who is the real US winner for longest continuously operating movie theatre? The New Zealand theatre appears to be the oldest but has it operated continuously? Any word fro Guinness Book of Records?

del50 on May 8, 2005 at 3:49 pm

The Roxburgh cinema has been screening continuously since october 1898 and is still going strong

Gwynne on May 31, 2005 at 6:28 pm

The Robey Theater in Spencer, WV opened in 1907 as a vaudeville house. In 1908 the Robey began exhibiting motion pictures. The Robey is still open today and claims to be the oldest continuously running movie theater in the U.S.

webber on June 6, 2005 at 3:20 am

We believe the Curzon (www.curzon.org.uk) in Clevedon, England, to be the oldest, purpose-built, continuously operated cinema in the world. It opened on 24th April 1912 (with a charity matinee in aid of The Lord Mayor of London’s appeal for the survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives on the Titanic) and it was known as The Picture House. It had 200seats and in 1913 was enlarged (without closing) to have 380 seats. In 1920-22 the current building was constructed “over the top of the original, without losing a days show.” It then had 600 seats.
It looks like the Elks Theater might just the edge on us, although it did close for a period (?).
Jon Webber (.uk)

newtowntheatre on December 29, 2005 at 5:47 pm

well I think I may have you all beat, the Newtown Theatre, in Newtown Pennsylvania showed it’s first movie in 1906, an edison film of the San Francisco earthquake and fire. and where is the Roxburgh cinema?

webber on December 30, 2005 at 12:27 am

The Curzon, Clevedon, England, claims that its the oldest PURPOSE BUILT, continuously operated, whereas Newtown, was originally a Church. And where is the Municipal Roxburgh, the Mayors office says its part of the Town Hall, not a ‘purpose built’ cinema.
Jon Webber (.uk)

Bradley Knewstubb
Bradley Knewstubb on January 3, 2006 at 12:51 pm

Roxburgh is in Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand. It was purpose built in that from day one had a projection box built into the plans, the idea was that movies would help pay for its construction.

coralie on February 7, 2006 at 9:14 am

Hello I am looking to buy any old speakers Valve amplifiers, Valves Horns HF units If you have any of these Please Email At Regards Robin

seandb on July 22, 2006 at 5:28 am

The Historic Park Theatre in Estes Park, Colorado is the oldest running movie theatre west of the Mississippi. It opened in 1913. visit www.historicparktheatre.com for more info.

billgrove on February 14, 2007 at 4:02 pm

I have the Historic Henn Theatre in Murphy, North Carolina, which, as far as I know, is the oldest theater still owned by the family that opened it. PJ Henn opened the theatre in 1935 and continued to help in it until he passed away 3 years ago. His daughter, Betsy Bailey, still officially owns the theater.


crumpetup on May 27, 2008 at 6:11 pm

The Cinema in Rochester opened in 1914 as “The Clinton” and has been continuously running since.


agoseta on March 14, 2009 at 11:35 am

The first official screening in the Lumière Cinema in Pisa (Italy) was made on 16 December 1905. The first official sound screening was made on 19 October 1906. Even after a thorough renovation in 2005, which brought modern equipment, the cinema did not lose its original Art Nouveau charm by the famous architect Luigi Bellincioni (1842-1929).

The Lumière cinema has not a certificate issued by the Guinness World Records but it has still the documents, published in the book “Il Lumière di Pisa. 100 anni di cinema a Palazzo Agostini” (Pisa, Felici Editore, 2005) by Renato Bovani & Rosalia Del Porro.

Korsør Biograf Teater (opened January 30th, 1907) in the danish city Korsør was listed the oldest cinema in the Guinness Book of World Records from 2008. The Pionier Cinema (opened September 26th, 1909) in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland) was listed as the oldest in the Guinness Book of World Records from 2005 to 2007.

Oldest cinema in the World:
Pionier Cinema – Szczecin, Poland: http://www.kino-pionier.com.pl/kino.html .pl

Korsør Biograf Teater â€" Korsør, Danimark: View link

Lumière Cinema â€" Pisa, Italy: http://www.lumierecinema.it/

Picture House Cinema â€" Argyll, Scotland: http://weepictures.co.uk/news.php

Hippodrome Cinema – Bo'ness West Lothian, Scotland .uk

Daguanlou Cinema â€" Beijing, China View link .cn

The Allred Theatre – Pryor, Oklahoma (Usa)

Gorge Cinema – Elora, Ontario (Canada)

Bradley Knewstubb
Bradley Knewstubb on March 14, 2009 at 3:11 pm

As I posted earlier, the oldest cinema still opened that I have managed to track down in the world is that of the Municipal, Roxburgh, New Zealand. It was opened in October 1898. In 2008 it celebrated 110 years of operating, having special screenings of both current and past movies.

To be listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” the subject must be nominated. Obviously, for this cinema, it has not.

jrw78 on April 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm

The Strand Theatre in Kutztown, PA is working its way up the ranks. i have been doing research, and the 1916 date that we have been advertising for years is incorrect. i have not yet been able to find any article on the opening of the theatre, but i have found ads from the local paper that date as far back as January 1913, leading me to believe that the local historic society is correct with their claim that the theatre opened in 1912. And the Strand was built from the ground up as a purpose-built movie house.

karalong on April 9, 2010 at 6:26 am

The Strand Theatre in Delaware, Ohio opened it’s doors April 10, 1916. We are celebrating 94 years of showing first run movies in beautiful Downtown Delaware! Our website is down and my photos are gone, but you can find us on Facebook, the Strand in Delaware Ohio,

rba on September 9, 2015 at 12:50 pm

My understanding is that The Roxie in San Francisco is the oldest continuously running move theater in the US and the 2nd oldest in the world. It opened as a movie house in 1906 and was called the C.H. Brown Theater.

Dlf007 on October 16, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Spencer, WV Robey. theater. 1907 till present. Never closed. Going there Monday night for maze runner sequel. 3d and all.

Dlf007 on October 16, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Spencer, WV Robey. theater. 1907 till present. Never closed. Going there Monday night for maze runner sequel. 3d and all.

scobee on September 29, 2016 at 1:41 pm

The El Rey Theater (Originally the Majestic Theater) in Chico, CA started showing films on April 23th 1906 and has continued to do so since (110 years). There is an advertisement printed in the Chico Record dated April 18th 1906 with the screening announcement.

Grandier on October 15, 2018 at 3:41 am

I visited the Breitenseer Lichtspiele in Vienna which has been in constant operation since 1905. They have two 35mm projectors and a live piano. I spoke to the woman there who mentioned the theater in Pisa. It seems ‘purpose-built’ should be a part of the designation. https://vienez.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-oldest-operating-cinema-in-the-world-is-in-vienna/

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment