Penn Theatre

131-37 South Main Street,
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706

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Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

ABone
ABone on February 19, 2006 at 10:17 am

Once again, way before my time in the W-B area, but I know it was originally Poli’s Theater, opened in the 1st decade of the 20 century, a prominent vaudeville house which featured such performers as George Burns & Bob Hope. Closed probably before 1960, demolished in the ‘60’s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 2, 2010 at 2:27 am

Poli’s Theatre in Wilkes-Barre opened on October 19, 1908, and the architect was Albert E. Westover. The source for this information is a book called Theaters, by Andrew Craig Morrison.

I’ve been unable to discover when the theater was renamed the Penn, but it had happened by 1942, when the June 6 issue of Billboard Magazine made reference to it, and it happened no earlier than 1931, when an artist named Anthony F. Dumas made a drawing of it as Poli’s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 2, 2010 at 2:47 am

Posted to soon. I found this timeline of Wyoming Valley history from Wilkes University which says that Poli’s Theatre was renamed the Penn Theatre in 1931.

jtardio
jtardio on July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I have many fond memories going to the Penn Theater back in the ‘40s—with my parents taking the family to see the vaudeville / movie performances of the day. Or my grandpa taking me on the laurel line downtown for a Saturday treat at the Penn. THAT was entertainment I shall never forget. Through the eyes of a child back then, the Penn was huge, with its multiple balconies, huge stage, glorious colored stage lighting and orchestra pit. It did have a house orchestra which had integrated into it a Hammond Organ. The many variety of acts (unicyclists, magicians like Blackstone, animal acts, etc.) were special treats to savor. And how can one ever forget the grand entrances and lobbies of those palaces of splendor where the outside world ceased to exist for the time you were there. Sadly, never to be again.

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