Hill Theatre

2131 Market Street,
Camp Hill, PA 17011

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Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

1posterfan4sure
1posterfan4sure on January 4, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Camp Hill is a community across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, PA. The Hill was a nice theater with 900 reclining seats. I never before or since have been in a theater with seats quite like that. Big screen too. I went there many times. It wasn’t fancy, nor was it plain, as it had attractive decorative touches. Just a nice, well-maintained neighborhood house. The Hill opened post-WWII, I think, as it is not listed in the 1945 Film Daily Yearbook. It was a second-run house until 1963 when it switched to first-run. The Hill was part of Harry Chertkoff’s small chain and was large enough to sustain a first-run policy. In fact, until the Camp Hill Twin was built, the Hill was the only first-run theater on the West Shore. At the time the only first-run theaters in the area were the State, Senate and Colonial in downtown Harrisburg, the Uptown (also in the city) and the Eric in Swatara Township.

The 1970s was a tough time for a lot of older, single-screen theaters. Energy costs skyrocketed so heating and air conditioning were much more expensive, and multiple theaters like the Camp Hill Twin and the 6 at the Capital City Mall began to take away first-run product. The Eric and the Trans-Lux were twinned, further depleting first-run availability. Several of the drive-ins had become first-run too. In the mid-70s the Hill began showing foreign films, art films and revival classics as a way to keep going. I saw a reissue of Disney’s “Fantasia” and the Basil Rathbone version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” there. The last time I went there, to see a reissue of the restored “King Kong,” it had gotten kind of shabby. Apparently the roof had leaked and there was a long white streak along the right-hand wall caused by water, and the place smelled kinda musty.

I’ve always thought the loss of the Hill was tragic. Camp Hill is an upscale community with many busy, well-kept independent retail shops and restaurants along the main street. Had the Hill survived it would be a real theatrical jewel today. It was major loss for Camp Hill to be sure. I remember seeing it during demolition but I don’t recall the year. Can anyone else supply exact dates?

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on January 7, 2008 at 7:17 am

John

If my memory serves correct. The Hill was demolished in 1980 or 81. I was out of high school in 1980. The Hill’s curtain now hangs in the Roxy theatre in Northampton Pennsylvania. I wonder if Lost memory can come up with a photo of the Hill

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on January 7, 2008 at 7:29 pm

JOhn – Was the Hill Theatre part of the Chertcoff circuit headquartered in Lancaster? I thought they operated a number of theatre in communities outlying Harrisburg. I know they operated the theatre in Steelton, which I think eventually became a “machine shop.” And I thought they had two theatres across the river from Harrisburg. One of these days, we must make arrangements to meet so I can give you my scrap books to peruse.

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on January 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Dennis ..yes it was part of the Chertcoff cicuit. yes, I would like to see your scrapbooks…The lemoyne theatre closed sometime in the mid to late 50’s

1posterfan4sure
1posterfan4sure on January 7, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Dennis and John: We should all try to get together at some point and talk Central PA theaters. I grew up in the Harrisburg area and now live in York, and know quite a bit about theaters in those towns, but I know very little about Lancaster other than what you’ve posted here. I’d love to see your scrapbooks too.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on April 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm

John Messick and John S in York – wondering if we might still ever get together and have a chat about the “old days.” Time keeps marching on.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 9, 2010 at 9:03 am

The Hill, along with the Uptown in Harrisburg, were two of the newest theaters in the Harrisburg area circa the 1950s. Probably the last new neighborhood theaters before shopping malls changed everything.
My parents took me to theaters all over the Harrisburg/West Shore area and I remember the Hill as a very nice one. It was a single building set back from the street and there was a parking lot to the left of it. There was a roomy lobby/entrance (as I recall) and a downstairs lounge reached by a stairway at the back of the auditorium. I remember everything about the theater as being new, modern (as opposed to theaters like the Colonial), and attractive.
Later I got to know theaters in York, Lancaster, and Philadelphia.
Would love to see those scrapbooks too, but I’m no longer in the area.

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on February 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Looking forward to you placing your photos on your blog. I hope it is soon.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I’m working on this. I just submitted an entry on the Rio.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 20, 2011 at 11:58 am

Harry Chertcoff address in 1956 was 419 E.king st. Lancaster,Pa. dennis.

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