West Shore Theatre

317 Bridge Street,
New Cumberland, PA 17070

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Showing 26 - 41 of 41 comments

mark edmunds
mark edmunds on August 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Lost..Nice photo of the doors! This gem is on our agenda this weekend!!

Patsy on May 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I think I’ve answered my own question above….do believe the doors are still in place! Wise decision New Cumberland!

Patsy on May 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Does this theatre still have the entrance doors with the round windows? Hope so!

JohnMessick on January 22, 2009 at 7:24 am

Very nice photo Lost Memory. The neon tubing has since been replaced and the marquee looks much better. One exception….That blue has to go.

AndrewC on October 15, 2008 at 8:17 pm

The West Shore is by far the best theatre experience to be had for 4 counties. I live 15 miles away and attend at least several times a month, taking my 3 year old to experience what a movie should be… An experience, not just a business. I make it a point to buy at the concession stand every time, there is no way to make a profit otherwise for the owner. I
want to see this place around for another 68 years so that my grandchildren and great grandchildren can experience it. An just food for thought, I would pay double the current ticket price gladly. The reasonable prices at the concession stand makes it economical to bring the family. Another theatre changes as much for just a popcorn as I pay for the whole family to get into the West Shore. I love the place, have for 30 years.

And Bentz, if you find yourself short of funds when it comes onto the market, put out a public call. I as well as many others would gladly join in to help you keep it alive.

JohnMessick on October 13, 2008 at 8:46 am

Bentz…I do believe I read somewhere that your grandpa would do his school homework in the boxoffice. Ask him about that. Also wasn’t the interior walls done in a crushed velet at one time? I think your grandpa changed it after the flood of 1972. Ask him about that as well.

pianoclassclown on October 12, 2008 at 6:26 pm

My great grandfather Frank Freistak built a small silent theater in New Cumberland in the early 1930’s. Then in 1940, he built a new theater with sound on the next block over named West Shore Theatre. He owned it for ten years until he died in 1950 leaving it to his son, my grandpa Frank Freistak Jr. My grandpa owned it until 1987 and then sold it to Fred Bollen. I know a lot about the theater and it’s history and if you have any questions you can ask me. I’ll ask my grandpa. He’s 94 and stil kicking. He may have even worked there on opening night in January of 1940. I’m even considering buying it back from Fred when he decides to sell it.

JohnMessick on November 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Stopped by the West Shore this morning to check out the renovated marquee. What a terrible job!! Fred Bollen if you read Cinema Treasures or this post for your theater. Please tell me that the marquee job is not complete.

linhelen on December 26, 2006 at 2:52 am

I had the privilege of attending the West Shore twice in the past 8 or so years as I have a friend who lives in New Cumberland. Quite an experience. So wonderful that it’s still around. Reminded me of my days in the neighborhood theaters of Brooklyn. These works of art and “dream palaces” should indeed be considered worth preserving for so many reasons.

TheaterBuff1 on April 18, 2006 at 11:36 pm

’ve created a special Cinema Treasures webpage where I invite all interested parties to discuss in greater detail what they feel the likely impact that Pennsylvania’s recently legalized gambling will have on Pennsylvania’s movie theaters. I look forward to seeing your comments there, and here’s the link to the webpage: http://cinematreasures.org/news/14515_0_1_0_M/

TheaterBuff1 on March 19, 2006 at 10:26 pm

All excellent points, John. Meantime, my point about well-run movie theaters differing from other businesses is that in addition to being businesses they are also art. And the fact that they’re art means that they’re contributing to society in more ways than simply generating tax revenues. Although many lowgrade politicians have us boxed into thinking so, life is much more than just being about money all the time. There is that above and beyond money that needs to be recognized and respected also.

Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating that any theater owner/operator become a tax evader, as surely their theater will get shut down and they’ll get carted off to prison also accordingly. Rather, I’m pushing for greater tax exemption status for theaters which the government full consents to on the basis of its recognizing the many other ways a theater contributes to uplifting the community besides merely generating revenues. For there are countless things that well-managed theaters contribute to a community that you could not even begin to put a price on. And far too often the government turns a blind eye to this other major contribution that theaters make as an excuse for collecting taxes when it shouldn’t be. For just to be real, it is totally ignorant to tax a well-run theater the same way you would a Rite Aid, bank or whatever, and most especially when it forces that theater to fold. In Shamokin, Pennsylvania, where the designer of the West Shore Theater, William Harold Lee, was born and raised, there had been his masterpiece, the Victoria Theatre, which had been demolished in 1998 to be replaced by an all new Rite Aid. To which I can only ask, have we all gone insane?! For new Rite Aids can be built anywhere. Meaning there’s never a good reason to have to tear down a well-designed theater to make way for an all new one. No matter what, there’s always the much better alternative.

I think right now that many politicians, particularly the lowgrade ones, not to mention the more unscrupulous businesses, see themselves as being in competition with well-run theaters. There’s the strong jealousy factor at work there, very much a Cain & Abel type thing. So to make it all “fair,” they advocate taxing theaters the same way any other businesses are taxed, overlooking the fact that well-run theaters are also art as well. And that, in David & Goliath fashion if need be, needs to change. For look at it this way, from the consumer point of view: If I go to a really well-run theater, such as the West Shore, and I love the movie going experience of it from start to finish, is it ever in my thoughts, “Hmmmm, is this theater generating enough in tax revenues?” Of course not. Only an idiot consumer would think that way. As a consumer, what I want from a theater is a great movie going experience. And if the theater gives me that, then I’m on cloud nine. And anything that undermines that experience to me is what needs to be fully phased out if need be, not the theater itself. For the theater is giving me what I want, the other isn’t.

JohnMessick on March 17, 2006 at 2:15 am

I need to clarify one thing in my above statement. When I said taxes were a deductable I meant the real estate taxes on the place were deductable from the business taxes the owner pays

JohnMessick on March 17, 2006 at 2:02 am

Ok gentlemen, let me set you straight one a few things. First off the West Shore theatre has been in business since 1940. It has had 2 owners to date. Second it has always been run as a 2nd run house, which is why ticket prices are only 3 bucks. Third I have been there on weeknights that the place is packed, and the people are lined up to get their goodies. Fourth, Taxes are a part of business which means they are tax deductable. Because its a part of doing business. Fifth, the second owner has had it since 1985 or 86 so if it wasn’t doing any business, why would he buy it? Sixth, The area in which the theatre lies takes in several towns, so there is a lot to draw from customer wise. Remember more people will see movies at 3 bucks then they can at 8 bucks. I should know this because I live in the area.

TheaterBuff1 on March 17, 2006 at 12:29 am

Which to me drives home the fact that many still do not recognize well-run movie theaters as being works of art in addition to their being businesses. And that really does need to change! For to me, a well-crafted movie exhibited in a well-run theater, which the West Shore Theatre appears to be, is the highest art form there is. Meaning that it is totally obscene to categorize a movie theater as a business just like any other — a bank, a drug store, a dollar store or what have you. It may well be a business, sure, but as a movie theater, particularly if it’s well run and presents the best of movie fare, and in the most tasteful, considerate way, it is much more than that. Movie theaters uplift, they inspire, they transform our whole lives. And at times they offer hope, and joy, when there’s none to be found anywhere else. And how do you put a price on that, how? And to look at a movie theater and say, “Well, you’re not generating enough revenues, sooooo…either you’re going to have to find a way to make more money to keep up with taxes or, we’re gonna have to shut you down,” is as offensive as it gets, and not just to the theater owner/operator but to all of us. For my view is this: What theaters fail to generate in tax revenues they make up for a thousandfold by by being great movie theaters. And this West Shore Theatre to me looks like one hell of a great movie theater. As I say, every small town, and neighborhood, all throughout America should be so lucky to have one! Here in the Holmesurg section of Northeast Philadelphia where I reside and which in many ways is very small town-like — but needs to become moreso — we have another of William Harold Lee’s brilliant theater designs. But is it currently being restored as a movie theater? No. Without anyone in the Holmesburg community even being asked, in a forced-through way it’s being made a mini mall instead, and to have the types of businesses that Holmesburg has too many of already. A well-run movie theater in Holmesburg is needed badly. Without it, the quality of life in Holmesburg is very Taliban-like at the moment. And with every political force currently overshadowing Holmesburg determined to keep it that way. And there are those in Pennsylvania government, such as Governor Ed Rendell, and House Speaker John Perzel (whose district includes Holmesburg) who seem to want to make what Holmesburg has been reduced to standard throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania. And we’ll know that with absolute certainty if they go after New Cumberland’s West Shore Theatre as well.

They try to play down small town and neighborhood theaters as “not being very important.” But as Norristown, PA, which lost its Norris Theatre (which, incidentally, was another William Harold Lee designed theater) can attest to, they are very very important. Too important to be treated just as businesses like any other. Meaning that if we have to choose between shutting down the theaters, or shutting down the tax collection agencies, by all means let it be the latter.

padowntown on March 16, 2006 at 8:02 am

New Cumberland is actually in central PA, less than 5 miles from Harrisburg. New Cumberland is one of the larger small towns in the area and certainly one of the more affluent. It is amazing that they are able to stay open at the prices they charge. Because my interaction with them has been that the costs they incur to bring the movies in are a struggle for them and even if the building is paid for their are taxes and all that other over head

TheaterBuff1 on March 15, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Ah, now this looks to be a theater that appears to be doing everything right! And designed by William Harold Lee at that no less!

An old photo showing how its front exterior looked in 1940 can be seen at this link: View link

And a newer one, showing the same exact view in more recent times, can be seen here: View link

And this to me is a perfect example of a neighborhood cinema at its finest. Every neighborhood should have one, to which I ask why not?