American Theater

44-52 North Main Street,
Pittston, PA 18640

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American Theatre

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The American Theater was located on North Main Street in Pittston and opened June 9, 1924. This was the largest theater built in the Pittston area and was located in the main business area between the Water Street and Fort Jenkins Bridges. It hosted vaudeville shows, big band music concerts and movies for most of its life. It operated until the late-1960’s and sat empty until the building was demolished in the early-1980’s for a Rite-Aid drug store and parking lot.

Contributed by Bobs

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on November 16, 2006 at 4:34 pm

I added to this post a while back and somehow my comments were removed. I was an Operator of this theatre in 1978. We leased the theatre from Greatway Travel of Scranton. Initial renovations were started in the summer of 1977 which included repairing the balcony ceiling which had a partially collapsed section, replacement of the projection & sound equipment, and a complete cleaning of the place as it had been closed for at least 10 years. These renovations were completed in time for a Grand Re-Opening in mid March of ‘78. We ran 2nd Run films booked by the Tri-State Theatre Service of Philadelphia (The Gottliebs) and live concerts. The theatre seated approx. 700 on the main floor / orchestra and 1400 in the balcony which included box seats and a nice loge/mezzanine. The American “supposedly” had the “Largest Movie Screen in N. E. Pennsylvania”. As I posted before, this house was almost a twin to the Irving Theatre in nearby Carbondale, PA. (and designed by the same architect, Leon Lempert Jr. of Rochester, NY) The only
difference was that the main floor/orchestra seating layout was configured differently. I was lucky enough to tour the place again in the mid 80’s before it was scheduled to be gutted and turned into a medical clinic. Some fellow theatre lovers and myself were able to purchase some of the original plaster mouldings, box seats (complete), seats, and the hand painted murals that adorned the ceiling and side walls. It
actually wasn’t demolished until the early 1990’s and yes, there is
a CVS drug store on the site now. I do have photos that I would like to post if anyone is interested.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on November 21, 2006 at 3:49 am

Yes, this is a correct address for the whole building. The theatre’s address was 48 N. Main. There were 4 storefronts in this building (3 stores and 1 diner) There was also a small storefront on the south side of the building (tailor shop) which was located between 2 of the 3 Orchestra Exit Doors.

RJS
RJS on November 21, 2006 at 5:50 am

Jeffreyt: Would love to see any photos you have, perhaps post them at photobucket. I recall driving past the building in the early 1980’s but it was closed at the time, but do remember the words “American Theatre” were painted on the back wall and were clearly seen when crossing either bridge. Currently live just across the river and pass this site every day on the way to work.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on September 9, 2007 at 9:57 am

Here’s a couple of pics from the 1960’s

View link

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

This theater was part of ABC Theaters of Pennsylvania, a Scranton-based chain, in the early seventies.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on September 25, 2008 at 11:32 am

Hey Lost Memory

The American opened in 1928; 4 years after the organ was installed ?

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on September 26, 2008 at 7:20 am

I operated this theatre in the late 70’s. The research we did before opening (for a certificate of occupancy) showed the building opening in 1928. I’m not sure where the information on the top of the page came from, but I don’t think it is accurate.

RJS
RJS on September 23, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I found the original opening date for the American from a news clipping at the Pittston Public Library. It had indicated June 1924, although it had little additional info such as the number of seats. I spoke with some long-time residents of the area, but none were able to confirm that date.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The May 28, 1924, issue of The Scranton Republican said that Comerford’s American Theatre in Pittston was scheduled to open on June 9. Construction firm Breig Brothers was completing the $500,000 project two months ahead of schedule. Claude Wesley was to be the manager of the new house.

The American Theatre was the 84th house in the Comerford chain, and at 2,500 seats was also the largest thus far. There were 1,200 seats on the main floor, 1,100 in the balcony, and 200 in the boxes and loges. The proscenium was fifty feet wide and forty feet high, and the stage thirty-five feet deep. There were ten dressing rooms under the stage. A Kimball organ was being installed.

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