Penn Theatre

12th Avenue and 11th Street,
Altoona, PA 16601

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 8, 2015 at 6:28 pm

The Orpheum Theatre in Altoona was built in 1908, but the site already had a theatrical history, noted in a 1990 publication about Altoona, Railroad City, from the National Park Service (Internet Archive scan):

“In 1887 Louis Plack built the Mountain City Theatre, a four-story brick building, on the corner of 11th Street and 12th Avenue; it burned in 1889 and was rebuilt as the Phoenix Block, an office building. In 1906 the building was converted back into a theater and reopened as the Lyric, managed by the Keith Vaudeville Company. Destroyed by fire in 1907, the theater was again rebuilt and subsequently named the Embassy, Penn, and Orpheum.”
Although this item in the March 7, 1908, issue of Variety doesn’t mention the name Orpheum, many later references indicate that the Orpheum was the Wilmer & Vincent house in Altoona until at least 1914:
“WILMER & VINCENT BOOK ALTOONA.

“When the new vaudeville theatre opens at Altoona, Pa., on Monday, March 9th, it will be considered as one of the Wilmer & Vincent chain. The firm has been booking the attractions for the house. Under some arrangement entered into, Wilmer & Vincent hold an interest in the theatre, as well as Henry B. Harris, and others.”

The house was known as the Embassy Theatre by 1927, and most likely retained that name until becoming the Penn in 1933. The Penn Theatre was demolished in 1951.

This page at GenDisasters has a photo of the burned out Lyric Theatre, the Orpheum’s predecessor. I don’t know if any part of the Lyric building was incorporated into the Orpheum’s construction.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm

This opened on November 20th, 1933. Very small ad uploaded here.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 16, 2008 at 10:08 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, January 1938:

ALTOONA, Pa.-The Penn Theater property and the entire business block has been purchased by A.N. Notopolous, local circuit operator. The theater has been under lease and has been operated for the past year by Notopolous and Wilmer & Vincent Corp., the operating company being known as the Elst Theater Corp. (named for Eleventh Street). Penn Theater will undergo extensive renovation in the spring.