Park Theater

1018 Penn Street,
Reading, PA 19601

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Park Theater

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The Park Theater opened November 11, 1926. On November 20, 1978 there was a fire at the Park Theater. (Click the link below for a photo of the fire) This theater was demolished the following year.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

JimmiB
JimmiB on January 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

I just noticed that the header on this post has the Park listed as 1022 Penn Street. More than likely that is the actual address.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 3, 2011 at 5:14 pm

JimmiB: Please take a look at my recent comments on the Arcadia Theatre page. There’s a link to a 1909 magazine item about a theater, originally called the Victor, at 748 Penn Street. At first I thought it might have been the theater you knew in the 1950s as the stinky Ritz, but Ken Roe found a different address for the Ritz. It’s possible that the Victor didn’t last long, in which case you still might reconize the building as the location of some other business.

JimmiB
JimmiB on January 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Looking at the picture and the address, I believe that is the same site as the later Astor Theatre. I’ll comment further on your Arcadia page.

JimmiB
JimmiB on July 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Absolutely correct Chuck. 19601

JimmiB
JimmiB on July 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Also, the Google map and image are of Penn Ave. in Wyomissing. Not even close.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

The November 11, 1926, issue of the Reading Times said that the Park Theatre would open that night. The opening feature was Her Big Night, starring Laura LaPlante, plus there were vaudeville acts, an organ recital, and the Park Orchestra.

ROCKER4EVER
ROCKER4EVER on July 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm

If you Google News They have old Reading Eagles on there,I just looked at an ad for The Park Theater for Oct 30,1970,the ad says 1018 Penn Street. Features playing are The Playpen and Bride & The Beast

ROCKER4EVER
ROCKER4EVER on July 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm

It also says on the ad James S. Maurer’s Park Theater,can anyone shed light on that?

RickB
RickB on July 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Here is an issue of the Reading Eagle with a story on the demise of the theater on Page 1 and some of its history on Page 3. The fire that put the theater out of business came on May 19, 1978; the November 20 fire mentioned in the description just caused a little more damage to the ruins.

As for James Maurer, per the story he was operating the theater as a burlesque house in 1964, when he and two strippers were arrested in a raid. Sometime between 1974 and 1976 he bought the theater building; he is reported to have leased it to a Trenton, New Jersey company in September 1976, leading to the return of burlesque at the Park. However, Maurer must have still been involved in the operation of the theater as he was arrested in another raid in January 1977. On May 3, 1978, the city declared the theater and the adjoining Daniel Boone Hotel unfit for human habitation. Maurer appealed the ruling and both businesses stayed open, but the fire rendered the appeal moot.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Internet reveals that James S. Maurer was operator of the Park Theatre from at least as early as 1964. Ads for the theater from that year indicate that at least part of the time it was a live burlesque house. Other sources called it an art theater, but I think they were using the term euphemistically (meaning that it presented “adult” fare during that time period.)

This rather large PDF contains a scrapbook of clippings related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and among them are a couple of items pertaining to the appearance at Maurer’s Park Theatre of an exotic dancer using the stage name Jada. Jada had purportedly been Dallas night club owner (and assassin of JKF assassin Lee Harvey Oswald) Jack Ruby’s girlfriend.

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