Victor Theater

221 E. Washington Street,
New Castle, PA 16101

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David Victor bought the Ritz Theater in 1930 and renamed it after himself. The theater was originally the Nixon Theater when it opened around 1918. In May 1948, he sold the house to Gamble Enterprises, operators of the Penn Theater on North Mercer Street in New Castle.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on April 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Like the nearby Dome Theatre (Paramount/Vogue/New Vogue/Cinema) the Nixon (Ritz/Victor) originally had no restrooms since programs only lasted a half hour or so. These early nickelodeons had a quick turnover in audiences. Feature films were still a bit in the future. Films grew longer, audiences more discriminating, prices rose to 15 cents or higher (!), and city officials demanded “comfort facilities.” Some places closed like the Cascade, Moravia, Star and Baltimore Strand. The Nixon and Dome found only one location in their smallish buildings to place restrooms, behind the screen! So, while the audience watched what was ON the screen, men walked up the left aisle and women up the right, under illuminated signs that read EXIT/MENS and EXIT/LADIES, to attend to nature. Of course, there was the occasional catcall by less sophisticated patrons. The Victor never had a concession stand until the late 50’s and a rather unusual shaped auditorium. The room had a fairly large screen, for its size, with flanking exits (and restroom entrances). Seating was in two sections; however, one seating section had 10 to 12 more rows of seats than the other, thus giving the auditorium a squared off “pork chop” appearance. Certainly unique, especially for a first run house.

The Dome in its various incarnations never amounted to more than a second run B house. The Nixon on the other hand was the number two first run house (specializing in WB and Fox) throughout the thirties, forties and very early fifties. In 1951, after a very brief try as an art house, the Victor closed for 7 years. It reopened in the late fifties, finally with a concession stand, as a second run double and triple feature grinder operated by the Fry family, operators of the Wampum Theatre in nearby Wampum, PA.. John Borovilos operated the Victor for a couple of years before it was finally closed and demolished in the early sixties. The Victor boasted a beautiful, three sided marquee with hundreds of tiny bulbs, a beautiful, nighttime feature on New Castle’s main shopping street. Since it’s closing, the location has remained a vacant lot.

David Victor also tried to run movies, briefly, in the mammoth, very ornate Cathedral auditorium within the imposing Masonic Scottish Rite building. He also operated a theatre in Meadville, PA during the early depression and the Victor Theatre in McKeesport, PA..

RSM3853
RSM3853 on March 8, 2013 at 6:35 am

The building housing the Victor Theater and a shoe store was purchased by Lawrence Savings and Trust in mid-July 1962 to be razed for an expansion to the bank, parking lot and drive-thru window. The theater appears to have closed the weekend on July 14-15, 1962 with the final booking of “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “The Big Circus”, and “The Plunderers”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

A Nixon Theatre in New Castle was listed in the 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide as a first-floor house with 1,800 seats. This house was part of the Nixon & Zimmerman chain, which operated first-class theaters for touring companies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

I don’t find the Nixon listed in later Cahn guides, though. Instead, there is a theater listed as the Opera House, with fewer than 1,100 seats. A New Castle theater called the New Opera House is on a list of Cahn-affiliated houses published in the December 5, 1908, issue of em>The Billboard.

But the Nixon was still in existence in 1913. This web page, which is mostly about a murder that was committed in New Castle 1905, mentions a meeting of spiritualists that took place at the Nixon Theatre on February 2, 1913.

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