Photos Of Colonial Theater Demolition

posted by Patrick Crowley on March 11, 2005 at 4:48 pm

ALLENTOWN, PA — The demolition of Allentown’s historic Colonial Theater commenced this past Saturday, March 5th.

As previous news articles have reported, the Colonial was to be demolished by the City of Allentown. Shame on Mark Mendelson for destroying a theater that was a real gem when he bought in in the 1980s and letting it get this bad.

Double shame on the City of Allentown and them letting the Colonial get this bad before they finally obtained the nerve to do something.

Theaters in this post

Comments (24)

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 11, 2005 at 5:39 pm

Patrick, what a shame is right, I worked this Theatre years ago, along with the Colonial Theatre in Harrisburg, Pa. and the Colonial in Lebanon, Pa. I remember Allentown, & Harrisburg were pretty much set up the same way. All three are gone now, is truly a sad day.
Dave Grau (Mungo)
Norelco

telliott
telliott on March 11, 2005 at 7:43 pm

A sad day indeed. And shameful. I guess Allentown has turned into a backwater, hicktown after all. I have such fond memories of the city in the 60s and 70s when it was a home away from home for me when I visited my beloved aunt and uncle who lived on Walnut st. I loved Allentown in those days, so many things to do and see. The last time I was there was in ‘92 and the downtown was a sorry sight to see. Too bad the city fathers didn’t have the vision of turning the Colonial in to some sort of performing arts centre that so many other cities have done. Then they would have had something special but I guess that isn’t what they want to do with their downtown. Like I said a sad, sad day. The picture of the destruction are awful.

sdoerr
sdoerr on March 11, 2005 at 8:42 pm

What a shame. Too bad the theater looks to be in too bad of shape to be restored anyways. This could have been avoided if the owners cared and maintained the theater!

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 12, 2005 at 3:48 am

Tim & Neo,
That is exactly what they did to the one in Lebanon, Pa. just left it go to hell. Then they could tear them down for parking lots
Dave Grau (Mungo)
Norelco

NittyRanks
NittyRanks on March 12, 2005 at 7:33 pm

This is just something I hate to see.

sdoerr
sdoerr on March 12, 2005 at 7:54 pm

Norelco,
what a coincidence, they do the same thing to all our buildings here in Detroit! Let them rot and then demo them for parking lots!

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 12, 2005 at 9:06 pm

Neo,
You are right, seems to be a national thing. They had quite a few in Pittsburgh where I am from. Everyone is now a parking lot.
Norelco

lance
lance on March 13, 2005 at 4:32 am

Great movie palaces are one of a kind just like great works of art. For this reason, every effort should be made possible by the community and the local government to save them. Eventually, each community will need a new theater or performing art venue. The government or a big coporate company will spend millions of dollars to build a new and unattractive modern performing arts center . Instead, they could have had the foresight to renovate an existing one and save millions. More important, so many young people have not had the experience of being in these grand old movie palaces. This deprives this generation as well future generations a part of their cultural heritage.

sdoerr
sdoerr on March 13, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Amen to that lance!

wzylinski
wzylinski on March 13, 2005 at 7:01 pm

It is so Hard for me to believe such thing can happen…
I work for Evergreene Painting Studios, and we do restore theatres, Capitol Houses, and Churches.
And what they have done with this theatre is A CRIME.
What a Shame…
Walter Zylinski

zathros61
zathros61 on March 14, 2005 at 5:40 pm

Thanks for posting these pictures of the demolition. I lived in Allentown for nearly 20 years, but sadly this theater was already closed when I moved there. Never got to see what the interior looked like except when the side doors were recently open when the owner was “repairing” the roof.

From the pictures posted here, it seems she was a real beauty when operating.

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 14, 2005 at 8:23 pm

Whats new? They are all alike, They can`t give the American worker a raise in minimum wage, so why would they keep a beautiful building standing if thier friends in business need parking spaces? they do seem to take care of each other, like just recently they voted themselves a nice cost of living raise, but I say where is ours?
Dave Grau (Mungo)
Norelco

melody
melody on March 30, 2005 at 5:09 am

what a sin, I have photos of what it look like when it opened, It was a palace before it was changed in the 60s. The last time I was inside it was raining inside And the sun was out.some of the bass pipes from the estey theatre organ were still there,Sad, Bob.

drwily1000
drwily1000 on May 2, 2005 at 3:09 pm

Hey, melody…About your photos of the Colonial. I grew up in Allentown, and I was fortunate to see a movie here. Could you please email any of those pictures to me? That would be great!! My email is

drumrboy36
drumrboy36 on May 27, 2005 at 4:16 pm

Typical, Typical Allentown!!!!
I lived there during the late 1980’s and watched the wrecking balls crash into the gilded balconies and side boxes of 2 historic theatres further up on Hamilton Blvd. I see they did it again! It is unreal that a decaying city doesn’t have the vision to see the treasures in their own back yard. These theatres could have turned around the urban blight that swallowed up Allentown.

burningdust
burningdust on October 8, 2005 at 2:11 am

Atop a neighboring parkade with a cam in hand, I watched the same thing happen to our historic Capitol Theatre up here in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. This is far too common, Shame on your civic authorities for once again bowing to the all mighty dollar.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on January 20, 2006 at 3:35 am

SHAME ON YOU, MARK MENDELSON, FOR LETTING THIS HISTORIC THEATER, AN ARCHITECTURAL MASTERPIECE, THAT HARBORS COUNTLESS PERSONAL MEMEORIES, GO TO POT. FOR THE CITY OF ALLENTOWN TO GIVE THEIR APPROVAL TO ITS HORRIFIC DEMOLITION, THEY ARE ONLY HORRIFYING THEMSELVES IN TIME, BY DOING A DISSERVICE TO THEIR RESIDENTS. POWER TO THE PEOPLE! TRUE DEMOCRACY = THE MAJORITY!!! WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE CONCEPT OF CONSTITUENCY???

  • AN HONORABLE SEMARITAN FROM NEW YORK
markp
markp on January 13, 2008 at 2:30 am

So sad to see these pictures. Looks like something out of a horror movie ( no pun intended ). Unfortunately, this is just something we see over and over again. I remember when they tore down the State Theatre in Woodbridge, N.J. where my dad was a projectionist for many years. It was where I had seen my first movie. I cried for days. But lets face it folks, except for us, nobody else cares. Now if it were a condo, office building or shopping center, that’s a different story….

skipfusion
skipfusion on July 31, 2010 at 12:16 am

I am going to be posting a YouTube video of my adventure into the Colonial Theater back in 2002 or 2003…not much footage of the actual theater, but some creepy footage of the projectors and offices upstairs. Watch for the noose hanging in the stairwell…will post hopefully tonight. Does anybody want to see this?

skipfusion
skipfusion on August 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Well, here it is, if anybody wants to see it. I guess it is maybe the best way of seeing how truly horrible the condition of the building had gotten, so if there was any doubt in your mind whether it should be torn down, this’ll put a rest to it. The theater is hard to see, it was not only dark, but we were hanging onto a metal ladder than came down from the projection booth. The floor was invisible and sounded like a small lake had formed at the bottom. I tried to boost the levels to make it more visible and in the process got carried away with editing…now it looks like some cheap Ghost Hunters knock-off. Oh well, it still gives me the chills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PP27ew2mwA

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 19, 2010 at 1:36 am

A heartbreaker.I feel for those of you that worked there.

cbierbauer
cbierbauer on July 15, 2011 at 3:47 am

In the 1940s, my father was the city manager in Allentown for Fabian Theaters, owners of the Colonial, as well as the Rialto and State theaters. It’s been a few years since anyone has posted anything here—I just discovered the site today, inspired by visiting an old theater under restoration in Columbia, SC. Would be interested in any photos that might be available showing the Colonial as it existed in its better days when it was the fanciest theater in town.

cbierbauer
cbierbauer on July 15, 2011 at 3:47 am

In the 1940s, my father was the city manager in Allentown for Fabian Theaters, owners of the Colonial, as well as the Rialto and State theaters. It’s been a few years since anyone has posted anything here—I just discovered the site today, inspired by visiting an old theater under restoration in Columbia, SC. Would be interested in any photos that might be available showing the Colonial as it existed in its better days when it was the fanciest theater in town.

DjFlip
DjFlip on February 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

WOW sad to hear the theater was destroyed (taken down) and no one did anything to save (restore) it. This building should have became a piece of history.. I also want to add that the info about it being closed since 1982 is incorrect and I am sure of that because in 1984 I saw the movie Breaking there.. Again, so sad to hear its demolition.. Just found out about the demolition because I been away from Allentown since 1992.. I love and miss Allentown so if any one knows a good site where I can download images, please let me know..

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