Memories of the Robins Theater
The Robins Theater in Warren has played a key role in my family for three generations. My grandmother’s brother, Daniel Robins, who was a pioneer in the movie industry, opened the Robins Theater in 1921 or 1922. In 1902 Dan had opened the first theater in New Castle, PA, with Abe Warner, one of the Warner Brothers. One of the Warners married my grandmother’s sister, Anna.
Dan’s obituaries detail his life and the chain of theaters he operated. After pioneering the first theaters in Youngstown, Ohio, Dan purchased the Warner Theater in Youngstown from Sam Warner, the father of the Warner Brothers.
I have a lot of memorabilia involving Dan and his brothers, Harry and Ben, who partnered in the theater business with him. My grandfather, I.J. Goldston, was the architect for the Robins Theater (and the Trianon Ballroom on Euclid Ave. in Cleveland). My mother at age 3 ½ presented the mayor of Warren with a big gold key to the theater at its grand opening. All 1500 seats were filled.
There were two operating companies: The Robins Theater Company and the Robins Amusement Company. The first ran the movies; the second ran the popcorn and candy stands. The theaters never made any money; the real profits came from the popcorn, candy, and pop. Dan’s nephew, Eli Goldston, used to argue that the customers should be admitted to the movies free, just so that they could buy the popcorn!
There is a project to renovate the Robins. The State and the City have supported the effort, and a formal architectural budge estimate is still underway.