Squirrel Hill Theater

5824 Forward Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

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Squirrel Hill Theater

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Opened in 1940, the Squirrel Hill Theater was one of the last of the dying breed of neighborhood movie theaters.

The Squirrel Hill Theater is located near the intersection of Murray Avenue and Forward Avenues in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.

Last operated by CineMagic, screening first run and independent films, it was closed in March 2010.

Contributed by Rick Aubrey

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I WAS A PROJECTIONIST FOR 54 YEARS NOW, AND I WORKED ALOT OF THEATRES ALL OVER THE COUNTRTY BUT PITTTSBURGH IS MY HOMETYOWN AND WE HAD THE BEST OF ALL, I WORKED IN NEW YORK ALOT TOO AND THEY HAD SOME GREAT ONES AS WELL….

carolgrau
carolgrau on March 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Joe, Thanks for clearing that up. I was running movies there one day and did some exploring and found some Stanley Warner signs, I thought it could be but was not sure, and of course no one who worked there did not know anything, they were'nt even born then…

SusanD
SusanD on April 21, 2010 at 8:47 am

I’d like to see this theatre cleaned up and reopened. Even though this wasn’t the cleanest or most modern cinema, I used to like coming here. I really don’t like the AMC Loews Waterfront at all. I’m glad the Manor and Regent Square are still open (and within walking distance).

MrBean
MrBean on July 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm

It is correct that the Squirrel Hill Theater had 6 auditoriums when it closed. However, I think one of the screens may not have been in use, but there were/are in fact 6 auditoriums. In the late 1990s (I think 1997) the theater was remodeled. It expanded further down the street and increased from 2 to 6 screens. I think it was ultimately a mistake to not include stadium seating in the upgrade, in addition to extremely small new auditoriums. This became apparent when the new Loews (now AMC) Waterfront Theater opened not to far away. Perhaps a more extensive upgrade was not financially viable.

It should also be noted that (from what I have heard in the community) the theater was going to have to close anyway due to a redevelopment effort at the corner of Murray Ave and Forward Ave, where a hotel, living space, and retail is going to (eventually) be added. I’m not sure why there is a preservation effort underway when the space where the theater sits is scheduled to be part of the redevelopment effort.

SusanD
SusanD on August 17, 2010 at 9:27 am

Mr. Bean.

“I’m not sure why there is a preservation effort underway when the space where the theater sits is scheduled to be part of the redevelopment effort.”

It’s because some of us don’t like AMC and still appreciate the fare that smaller theatres like this, the Manor, and the Regent Square show. Besides, this country has gotten too over condo-ized and small businesses like these theatres provide welcome relief.

You are right though. They could have done a better job on the remodeling. There are independent cinemas that still hold their own against the big chains.

milanp
milanp on December 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Back in high school I made regular Pittsburgh movie pilgrimages from Youngstown, and saw some classics at the Squirrel Hill: “Cries and Whispers” (April 1973); “Day for Night” (New Year’s Day 1974); “A Brief Vacation” (Memorial Day 1975); “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Dec. ‘75); etc.
The theater had a very sophisticated, big city feel (similar to some NYC theaters of the time like the Coronet, Sutton and Paris), and I vaguely remember a nearby restaurant that we would go to while in Squirrel Hill (Poli’s maybe?) Great memories.

Nicholas Herum
Nicholas Herum on February 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

I only saw one film at this theater. I loved the setup and the neighborhood atmosphere but the presentation was terrible. Picture quality was extremely poor, the print was scratched, and an amp was blown. Sad to hear it closed, with some improvements it could have been very nice.

k2
k2 on February 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

I remember when “Becket” opened here in mid-1964. It kept playing into the fall until I believe they had to just stop it, despite its success, because they had to do a renovation to prepare for the roadshow of “My Fair Lady.” This renovation allowed them to concentrate on more roadshows such as “Doctor Zhivago,” “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” and “The Lion in Winter.” It was designed with gold curtains and gold walls. I don’t remember the color of the seats and carpets. It was a smaller theater in comparison to the downtown ones.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm

February 2nd, 1937 grand opening ad in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

The obituary of Squirrel Hill architect Edgar A. Kwalwasser in the August 6, 1998, issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette listed alterations to the Squirrel Hill and Manor Theatres among his works. As Kwalwasser established his practice in 1951, the remodeling of the Squirrel Hill Theatre that he handled might have been the one for Stanley-Warner in 1956, or it might have been a later one.

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