Senate Theater

13-15 North Second Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17101

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Showing 26 - 50 of 57 comments

JohnMessick on February 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

norelco…I do believe the roof collasped and then was torn down.

carolgrau on February 13, 2010 at 8:56 am

I only ever worked 2 of them,,,One is in Millersburg,Pa. and the other is a long gone theatre in Pgh, I can’t remember name to save my life.. The Grand was not reversed.. I know this for a fact, I helped gut the Grand and level the floor with the old screen from Shamokin Drive-In .. We turned the grand into a roller rink, and later it becane a church, was torn down a few years back.

1posterfan4sure on February 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

“Norelco,” I’ll have to e-mail you with some questions about the Paxtang, my own childhood venue. I have a question about the Grand, however. My dad lived on 13th Street in the 1920s (and on Liberty Street in the 1930s, “penway14”)and attended the Grand. He once told me that the Grand was a “reverse” theatre, that when you entered the auditorium the seats were facing you and that you walked up to find a seat, with the screen to your side and back. I’d never heard of such a thing at the time and thought that I either misunderstood him or he was thinking of somewhere else. I’m sure he didn’t make it up and even at 90 his mind was sharp as a tack. So was the Grand a reverse theatre? Were there any among the many places you worked?

JohnMessick on February 13, 2010 at 1:53 am

I would like to see Ross post the snapshot his dad took of him at the Penway on his blog.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Very interesting. Thanks.

carolgrau on February 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

The Grand, Valle, and Penway all had apartments above them,, The Grand and Valle had seperate doors to the apartments, The Penway booth ws part of one. Was very strange, Upstairs of the Roxy was all office space and a large booth,

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 12, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I seem to remember the Penway, the Roxy, the Grand, and the Valle were all in the same block ad in the newspapers. I assume they were all owned by the same guy.
I have a newspaper page from 1955 and only the Penway and the Grand are listed in the “Screen Times” section.
I always wondered what was upstairs at the Penway. I wish I had other photos of it. I only have a snapshot my dad took.

carolgrau on February 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Thanks pal the Roxy was the one I could'nt remember, Hershey still is nice, and I really miss Harrisburg, Drive-In. I also worked the Paxtang that was a nice theatre,I always loved the State, the old fountain is still in the new building on Locust Street. I also worked the Valle in Mechanicsburg. Mr Yost owned that and the Penway.. The Penway was a strange place to work,, The booth was right in the middle of the apartment kitchen, So if they had a nasty tennan t you had to walk on egg shells, Finally Mr. Yost put up a wall of sorts to help cut some of the noise…Most people were friendly..

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

The State was probably the largest theater in Harrisburg. The only one that could really screen CinemaScope on a large scale. “The Robe” was a big event and attraction there.
Do you remember the Roxy? Was it on 13th St.? It was across from Christ Lutheran Church. The Grand was around the corner and down Derry St. It was nice in the early ‘50s.
There was another sort of grungy theater down from the Roxy, towards 13th & Market, the Capitol?
If I remember correctly there was a fairly nice shopping district at 13th & Market: A Lee’s 5&10, a real market, and various other good stores.
I’m a little vague on the numbered streets, it’s been awhile.
The Hershey Community was beautiful and I assume it still is, a real palace.
After my family moved out of the city I lived down the road from the Harrisburg Drive-In.

carolgrau on February 12, 2010 at 11:12 am

My favorite Harrisburg, Pa. theatre was the State on Locust street. Then the Senate, Harrisburg Drive-In, Hill, Trans Lux, Carlise theatre, Keystone Drive-in, Silver Springs Drive-In, Penway, Colonial, and of course the Hershey Community Theatre, what a beauty that one was… Uptown came next and they hadd a nice booth at the Scottish Rites Cathederal.. My wosrt were. Rialto, Star Art, and the old Grand on Derry Street…

carolgrau on February 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

Being the son and nephew of theatre owners I remember the xxx debate very well.. People would ask why we did'nt run family movies, I would tell them they would be the only ones to show up..Plus the percentage film companies charged on top of a huge deposit, we just could'nt make it.. Whereas you paid $200.00 a week to rent an xxx and all the money after the $200.00 was profit..I did'nt like running them, but they did put alot of food on the table and paid the bills..

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 9, 2010 at 7:30 am

Memories are a blessing and a curse. :)

carolgrau on February 9, 2010 at 4:50 am

My Pal John, You make me laugh buddy..Funny thing is I don’t remember much anymore,, But when your in a booth day in and day out you tend to remember what you were running.. I can even tell you what every theatre in Pittsburgh, had in it’s booths…Don’t ask the name of who I was with last night….

JohnMessick on February 9, 2010 at 3:37 am

Your just like Norelco, you do have quite the memory.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

The Senate showed first-run and re-issued Disney’s. One of the first films I remember being traumatized by was a re-issue of BAMBI. I also saw re-issues of SNOW WHITE and the SuperScope stereophonic revival of FANTASIA. The Senate had converted to CinemaScope around 1953 and they had a good stereo system. I seem to remember the church bells in Night on Bald Mountain coming from the back of the theater. (Great, but they also had to crop the image to make it wide-screen!)
The Harrisburg first runs (premieres) of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and PETER PAN were also at the Senate. (With all the Disneys I always felt it was so ironic it ended up as a porn house).
I have many very fond memories of this theater. It also showed Universal International first-runs, including the 50s 3-D sci-fi films which I loved. Also Hitchcock’s PSYCHO which had people lined up down to Caplan’s (sp.?) on the corner of Market St.

carolgrau on February 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

I had the honor of being a projectionist at all the Harrisburg, area theatres and drive-in’s, what great memories you and John S. have brought me today.. thank you pal….

JohnMessick on February 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

Penway, you said you lived on liberty street near the Penway. I know a guy who grew up in that neighbor. What years did you live there?

JohnMessick on February 8, 2010 at 8:11 am

As a kid I always liked going to the Hill. The Hill showed a lot of Disney films. I am talking in the early 1970’s. I do remember going to the Senate to see a Disney film. We parked in the parking garage next to the Harrisburg Hospital. Looking forward to seeing your photos.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 8, 2010 at 7:50 am

I do remember the Hill. My parents loved movies and we attended most of the theaters in the Harrisburg area. I remember the Hill as new and very nice. It was set back a little from Market St. and you could park on a lot to the left of the entrance.
We also went to the then-new Uptown and the Paxtang, an older neighborhood theater.
I managed to get to one screening at the West Shore and it seemed in very good shape. I’m very glad it’s still functioning.
I have to do some scanning and will get the photos on my blog shortly.

JohnMessick on February 8, 2010 at 3:19 am

Yes I did the Senate entry. The theater in New Cumberland is the West Shore. It is still in business. Do you remember the Hill on Market Street in Camp Hill? Looking forward to seeing those pictures on your blog.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I’ve seen John’s posts too, but you did the Senate entry, right? (Yes, I see John did do the long response with the pool hall info though).
Apparently they are not accepting photos on this site as yet? I doubt I can find any photos of the lesser-known Harrisburg (and Lancaster area) theaters but who knows. But I do have photos of most of the downtown Harrisburg houses, including some of the Colonial right after the wall collapsed. These are the theaters I grew up in.
I will try to put some of these on my blog and add a link (as I did for the Senate electric eye door photo).
I wonder if you or John would remember a neighborhood theater in New Cumberland? I seem to remember it was reopened and showing films again just before I left Pennsylvania. (This about 15 years ago).

JohnMessick on February 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I think you have me confused with John S in York. John is a very knowledgeable guy. As a kid, did you ever go to the Paxtang? John sent me a great story about when he was a kid and would attend Saturday matinees. The Lincoln school still stands. The Harrisburg schoold district remodeled her several years ago. Did you know that there was a Peoples Drug Store in the Penway for several years. I would very much like to see your pictures of the Penway and Rio theaters.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

I grew up on Liberty St. a block down from the Penway. (On the block opposite Lincoln Elementary where I went to school). I have one photo of the Penway, a snapshot that my dad took when my mother and I were standing in line. I was about six or seven years old at the time. It’s not really sharp but it is the only Penway photo I’ve ever seen.
I also have a more professional photo of the Rio.
I’d like to add the Penway and other Harrisburg neighborhood theaters to this site. I’m assuming they are not listed as yet. At least I’ve not been able to find them.
I’ve read a lot of your posts and was hoping you might respond to one of mine. The Senate was one of my favorite theaters and I was really interested in your comments, particularly about the pool hall. (I had no idea). It’s so difficult (and rare) to find reliable information about these theaters and I appreciate your postings very much.
This is a great site! I discovered it over the holidays but it took awhile for me to get registered.

JohnMessick on February 7, 2010 at 4:59 am

Penway14…I am assuming that you took your name from the Penway on State street. You would happen to have in your proprietorship any pictures of the Penway or Rio theaters in Harrisburg would you?

Ross Care
Ross Care on January 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

Senate Theater, Electric Eye Door, photo by Ross Care.
This original photo is from my blog, and was taken sometime before the Senate Theater was torn down.
My blog, Rossano 70, is mostly about film and film music but includes some photos of vintage theaters. Please feel free to surf it and to add comments. (Hope this link works). Thanks.

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