Small town theater in need?

posted by havuhrd on November 9, 2006 at 4:28 am

We are looking for a small town theater to develop into an entertainment destination…..

Comments (20)

Natalieland2006 on November 9, 2006 at 8:12 am

Welcome to the club. There are plenty of theaters that do indeed need to be saved. Check the “for sale” section of this and other sites and a realtor. Preservation groups do like to become involved in restoration projects on donated or purchased theaters. You’ll also need good management to run the theater.

I wish you good luck on your theatric project!

Please do have a very nice day!

dennisczimmerman on November 9, 2006 at 3:13 pm

I live in Lancaster Co., Penna. There are at least three small town theatres in the county that have been unused for years. They are still standing. The Marietta Theatre, in Marietta, PA, has been taken over by the towns historic preservation group. They have spent money replacing the roof, but I do not think anything more has been done with it. The Joy Theatre, in Mount Joy, PA has been empty for years. The lobby has been turned into a real estate office, but the theatre itself is still standing. The Moose Theatre in Elizabethtown, PA is still standing in tact. Fact is both the Moose and the Joy still have their marquees. All three towns are within about 5-8 miles of each other. And they are located between Lancaster City and Harrisburg City, which is the capital of Penna.
The Allen Theatre in the small college town of Annville, Lebanon Co. has been restored and seems to be very succesful. They opened a coffee house next to the theatre and my wife and I have eaten there before going to a movie. Annville is about 25 miles from Lancaster.
I would love to see any one of the three of these theatres restored or all of them for that matter. I used to attend the kids matinees at the Joy when I was staying with my Grandparents who lived in Mt. Joy. The Marietta Theatre used to have a classic series of both talkies and silent movies. If I had the money, I would give it a try if only to relive my childhood!

JackCoursey on November 9, 2006 at 3:15 pm

Check out the Franklin Cinema in Franklin, TN. Great little venue slated to close in December unless a new owner is found.

jukingeo on November 24, 2006 at 12:58 pm


I have been looking for theaters in PA recently, do you have more information on the Moose and Joy theatres? There are no listings for them here in Cinema Treasures.


dennisczimmerman on November 24, 2006 at 3:42 pm

Geo 1:
The Moose Theatre in Elizabethtown is owned by the Moose Lodge which is located in the same building as the theatre. The Joy Theatre in Mt. Joy was part of the local Leahad Theatre circuit which went out of business with the sale of the King Theatre in Lancaster which is listed in Cinema Treasures. Right now there is a Coldwell Banker real estate office in what was the lobby of the Joy Theatre. However from Main Street (Pa Route 230) in Mt. Joy, the actual theatre building is still standing. The address is 65 E. Maint St., Mount Joy, PA 17552. The phone number is AC 717-6532646. I would assume that the real estate office is only a tenant. So perhaps they could put you in contact with the property owner. It would really be nice to see that theatre reopened. The Boro of Mt. Joy has been attempting over the last few years to bring more businesses to the main street and consequently more people. I remember going there as a youngster with my uncle. The theatre box office was a kiosk just off the sidwalk. And there was a long outside walkway to get to the actual theatre doors and inner lobby. If my 59 year old memory serves me correctly, the theatre was one floor, but was rather large. I remember the curtains were a wide striped gray and red.

jukingeo on November 25, 2006 at 10:15 am

Hello Dennis Z

I am itching to see what these buildings look like. Do you have photos or a link to photos? It sounds like you have had a first hand experience with the Joy Theatre. Do you happen to know the occupancy? I am looking for something around 500 seating give or take. A balcony is not important, there are pros and cons to a balcony. The biggest pro, generally a high ceiling for more impressive and larger stage sets. But that pro is also the main con. Balcony theatres generally have more volume in building height and the cost to heat the building would be a bit more. Lastly…as I hinted above…I need a place that can handle live shows. Do you know if either or both can do such?


dennisczimmerman on November 27, 2006 at 4:21 pm

Geo 1:
Another theatre to consider is the Marietta Theatre in Marietta, PA.
It is a one floor theatre with a stage. I think it seated less than 500, but am not sure. Marietta, Pa. is located in the vicinity of Mt. Joy, Pa. and Elizabethtown, PA. It is listed on this site as the Marietta Theatre. Someone even submitted a picture from the outside of the front of the theatre. I know through various news articles in our local papers, that the Marietta Historical Society has taken over ownership of the theatre. It has been closed for many years, but operated long after the Joy and Moose Theatres did. The Historical Society has spent $20,000.00 to have a new roof installed on the theatre. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the Joy or Moose Theatres. Both of them closed while I was still in school back in the 60’s I believe. I tried finding some pictures on the Lancaster Co. Historical Society webpage, but have had no luck so far. I was also going to try the Lancaster Newspapers web page. I’ll let you know if I have any luck. I would really like to see one of these theatre put back into operation. You would certainly have a real population area to pull from. Since Mt. Joy and E-Town are located between Lancaster and Harrisburg, PA. Even Marietta is located along the Susquehanna River and a short drive from either Harrisburg or Lancaster. And York, PA is only across the river about 15 miles. I will keep trying to get you any additional information. Did you try calling the Real Estate Office?

dennisczimmerman on November 27, 2006 at 5:07 pm

Geo 1:
I just sent an email to the Mt. Joy Chamber of Commerce asking them if they could supply me with any information about the Joy Theatre. Told them I have been in email contact with someone who is interested in this theatre. So, hopefully, they will respond with some information. Anything I get I will pass along to you.
I just spent the last 30 minutes or so on the Lancaster Co. Historial Society and the Lancaster Newspapers web pages trying to get some information that way. The newspapers have data back to 1995 only. And I had no luck with the Hist.Soc. So maybe the Chamber of Commerce will come through for us. I would think they would be interested in seeing a property return to full operation. It would be great if this would work out! I would love to see the inside of the theatre myself. I remember it had two aisles with three sections of seating. I cannot imagine it was that big. My quess, and it is only a guess that it had about 400-500 seats.

kej on January 16, 2007 at 6:01 am

The Moose Theater in Elizabethtown is now fully occupied by the Moose. The auditorium is now a dining area. The lobby a bar. The stage and proscenium still exist, but the whole theater portion has been significantly altered, and I think the Moose are very settled in there.

The Joy Theater is a gem. It still has the original murals on the walls. The owner is the man who owns the pizza joint next door, and he is willing to have something done to the theater…he just doesn’t necessarily want to be involved. He also has the original blueprints of the building. Last I knew it was used for storage. The seats are all gone.

jukingeo on January 16, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Hello Dennis and Kristen

Do you have more information in regards to the Joy Theatre? There is no listing for it here in CT and I would like to see pictures of the building.

Nice knowing that the owner has a pizza parlor. With no seats in the theatre, I do have my gears turning in regards to a cabaret. Heh Heh Heh.

Does the Joy have a stage/back stage area? I am curious if it may already be able to handle live shows. How is parking in the area…that is very important too. Many old theatres run into this problem as many were built prior to having cars.


dennisczimmerman on March 16, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Geo 1: As soon as Spring gets here to Lancaster Co., I am hoping to visit Mt. Joy and see if I can talk to the owner of the theatre. If I can get to see the inside, hopefully will be able to take some pictures. If I do that, I will reply to this website again and can possible email you any pictures I take. I would really like to see this theatre utilized again. And it would be thrilling for me to be able to say that I helped it happen. If I can arrange a tour for some future date, would you be able to participate? It certainly sounds from Kristens comments the owner is definitely interested in getting the theatre operating again. Would certainly help his “pizza joint” to have a supply of customers from an operating theatre! Dennis

dennisczimmerman on March 16, 2007 at 3:48 pm

P.S. The Mount Joy Chamber of Commerce never answered my email. I believe it is this weekend that the Marietta Restoration Association is hosting a “drop in” at the Marietta Theatre in Marietta, PA. That theatre is listed on this website. Evidentally, from the article I read in the Lancaster Newspapers they are trying to drum up some interest in reopening that theatre. I know that has a small stage, because the screen was at the back of the stage. I am going to check the Lancaster Newspapers website and see if I can pull up the small article that was in the paper. If I can I will add another comment and give the details of the event.

jukingeo on March 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Hello Dennis,

Yes, I have heard a few times that the PEOPLE in the town do want something done over at the theatre, but as you found out…the TOWN seems to be lax at answering emails in regards to the theatre. I actually almost forgot about this place.

It would be nice if something can be done with the theatre.

When you go, please do take MANY pictures. I am curious to see everything, particularly the control booth, stage and backstage areas. I would like to know if the building has a basement (storage) and separate backstage restrooms as well. See if it also has a fly area.

From the look of it, Marietta is a beautiful town and one of those places that is full of character and very unique. But so far of the few people that I talked to there, they seem to be a little ‘off’…if you know what I mean.

As for stage size, you said, ‘small’. How small? I intend to do dance acts and other broadway style shows. So anything less than a 30 wide (not including wings) by 25 foot deep stage I most certainly will have trouble with.

Keep in touch though. I will visit IF I can qualify that the theatre will handle my needs and the people’s needs.


dennisczimmerman on March 20, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Geo 1:
My wife and I made the short drive to Mt. Joy today. I talked to a gentlemen in the Real Estate office, which is located on the street front of the theatre. He told me to go next door and talk to the owner of the pizza/sandwich shop who is the owner of the entire building. I talked to the guy. He claims his name is Dennis, but I really think he had a hard time understanding me. So I do not know whether he was just repeating my name or what. He is 70 years old and looking to sell the entire property. He told me the theatre has a stage and it is between 40 to 50 feet wide. He did not give me the depth measurement. The only thing missing from the theatre is the seats. The building has been maintained, the murals are still in tact on the walls. His phone number is 717-6535910. He said he would be more than willing to show any body the theatre. However, he did not offer to take me on a tour. The man in the real estate office recommended that I contact a Stacy Rutherford in the Mt. Joy Chamber of Commerce building. Since it was just a block away, I went over to see if she was in. She is a lovely young woman. She is the manager of the Main Street Mount Joy Community Commitment organization. Her phone number is 717-6534227. Her email address is: and the organization’s web site is I explained to her about the Cinema Treasures web site and that I had been emailing a person interested in taking over a small town central Pa. theatre. As I said she was a lovely young women and was very knowledgeable about the theatre and Mt. Joy in general. I would contact her first and she could fill you in and do some preliminary info work as well. She said the town is committed to bringing their Main Street back and feel a reopened theatre with various shows could be the turning point. So, please at least contact her for more info. I hope this is helpful. I would really like to think that perhaps with this information, I have gotten a ball rolling in the right direction. Keep me posted!!!!

jukingeo on March 20, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Hello Dennis,

Wow! That IS some interesting information you got there. NICE homework trip. Yeah I wish you could have go into the theatre, but when you mentioned that an entire complex is for sale with the theatre, that turned my head. Do you know if apartments are also included in the complex? I need a place to live so, that is a requirement with my theatre purchase. I need a building where I can raise my family.

That is funny that you mention the theatre only needs seats. I just found someone selling a bunch of theatre equipment…and yes, almost new seats. Now I know where the Marietta Theatre is, but I don’t know much about Mt. Joy. I don’t even know what the building looks like. Mt. Joy is close to Marietta, right? Lancaster area? This is closer than some of the buildings I have been looking at and I do really want to stay close to NY.

Do you happen to have any pictures of the Mt. Joy theatre? Do you know what kind of shape it is in? How is the parking around the building.

This is one thing I didn’t particularly care for about Marietta. Beautiful town…but really no place to park.

How big is the Mt. Joy theatre?

As you can tell I am particularly anxious and I do want to get an idea of what the theatre looks like. Do you know what style the theatre is constructed in? (Art Deco, Etc).

Ok, I have to run now, but thanx for the info. You got my attention.

dennisczimmerman on March 20, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Gep 1: Yes above the retail shops on either side of the theatre is a second floor. The second floor extend the full front of the building(s). Fact is, I told the owner that when I walked into the sandwich shop the first time, there was no one around. I waited about ten minutes and still saw no one. He said he was fixing a problem in one of the apartments. Mt. Joy is a small town located on Route 230 between Lancaster and Harrisburg, PA. There is easy access to a four lane highway, Route 283 which runs parallel to Route 230. This connects to Route 30 in Lancaster which continues on to Philadelphia, about 60 miles farther East. There is also Amtrak Train service that stops in Mt. Joy. Trains travel from Chicago East to Harrisburg and continue to PHiladelphia. In Philly you can take North/South trains to NYC, Boston, Washington DC and points South. My wife and I have traveled to NYC by Amtrak for many a three day weekend. Leaving Friday morning and coming back Sunday night. A 8am train gets you into NYC by 11am-12noon. We used to leave NYC Sunday night around 5pm and be in Lancaster by 8:30pm. I took the camera along, but never thought about taking pictures of the outside of the theatre! I will get there again and take some pictures and will email them to you. Mt. Joy is a small town with a Main Street with a lot of potential. There are a few restaurants – Mosby’s Pub – which happens to be one of our favorites. There are a number of Bread and Breakfast Inns on the main street. There are numerous small individually owned retail shops. Stacy Rutherford is really really interested in developing this theatre. I really hope you at least email her. Next week she is going to a conference in Seattle, Washington about main Street developments. I know, just from talking to her about 30 minutes, that whatever information she cannot supply, she will get it from someone else! There is a tremendous area to draw from. Lancaster to the East, Harrisburg, to the West, and Hershey to the North. My wife and I were just at the Hershey Theatre in January to see the touring version of “Hairspray.” That theatre was built by Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey chocolate. And I know people around here will drive to see something that is worthwhile and available to them. It is a solid brick building and the front has black ceramic tile on the 2nd floor. I really could kick myself for not taking any pictures today. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was standing across the street from the theatre and it would have made a perfect shot. The marquee is still on the front. It is triangular shaped, but unfortunately is filled in with the Coldwell Banker logo. Just do me one favor and contact Stacy. I think she will be able to answer a lot of your questions. The one shop owner told my wife the theatre seats are spread out all over the shops and houses on the main street! As soon as I get those pictures, I will post on this site and if you supply me with your email address I will send them to you. Hopefully, by then you will have communicated with Stacy Rutherford!

jukingeo on March 21, 2007 at 3:48 am

Hello Dennis,

I did email Stacy…thusfar I didn’t get a response, but it hasn’t been a day yet so that is understandable.

So the building has apartments as well, huh? NOW that is interesting. I need a place to live too.

Did you by any chance poke and prod to find out what the owner wants for the building?

Now in terms of Mt. Joy itself, the way you describe it, it sounds very ‘open’ or should I dare say deserted. Is that the case?

Are there alot of buildings in the downtown area for sale? If so, then that is really not a good sign because without local traffic I would have to rely on outside sources and then I have to take competition into serious consideration. For one, that Hershey theatre you mention poses some nearby competition and I am sure there are theatres in Lancaster as well.

But I see how close you are situated to Strasburg (“Traintown USA”)…I just was recently in Strasburg to partake in the railway attractions there. Thus I do have a few ideas brewing in my head.

From here on in, contact me via email: as what we are discussing has nothing to do with the history of the theatre and doesn’t belong here (and I have other reasons why I don’t want to continue discussions here).

Oh! But one thing that should be posted here…What is the theatre’s name? Is simply called Mt. Joy? Did it ever have a name or was it always named after the town?

As for the seats, well, I know I can always get replacements and in fact I found someone already that is selling a bunch of theatre equipment.

Lastly, are you from the Mt. Joy area? You only mention you are from the Lancaster area. Well, that is a pretty big area.

I myself have been to Lancaster a couple of times, but mostly Strasburg. I love Strasburg. I have a family now and I am taking care of two newborn sons and I would be thrilled if I could relocate close to Strasburg. For one, Mt. Joy/Strasburg is fairly close to NY and for two TRAINS!!!

Whoops! Getting too far off topic here. Anyway, just email me at that address I gave you and we will discuss the theatre further from there.

Thanx for the info. I am hoping that I can get in contact with Stacey soon and get some more information on the theatre and the town too.


turnburn on August 23, 2007 at 9:11 pm

Geo, Here is a pic of the Mount Joy Theatre
View link

jukingeo on August 26, 2007 at 9:57 am

Hello M. PA resident.

Thanx for the picture, but I do have quite a few now. I did persue an interest in this theatre for a while and I did gather up much information on it. However, the current owner wants over $600k for the building, and I didn’t feel it is worth it. The theatre is gutted and would need a complete overhaul. Given the pictures I have I feel the building isn’t worth more than $350k. So I seriously doubt the owner would go down to that price anytime soon. So I moved on. I found myself an adorable little Grange Hall in New Hampshire that I am taking an interest in. It is small, but it is in good order and has PLENTY of off street parking and the property is on a main road. It is priced well too. So I think I may end up buying this property. It WILL turn out to be a nice intimate dinner theater. I really wanted something larger, but I really can’t sneeze at this opportunity. So we will see how it turns out.


NativeForestHiller on March 20, 2008 at 2:36 am

Hi, I am a preservationist who is seeking parties that would be interested in an early 20th century Thomas Lamb theater in NY, which is currently endangered. It may be available for lease or sale. Please contact me at your earliest convenience for more information:

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