Grand Theatre

1426 Derry Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17104

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Ross Care
Ross Care on February 28, 2018 at 5:04 pm

The Harrisburg papers ran a block ad for four theaters, the Penway, Grand Roxy, and Valle. I remember seeing (MGM’s) Little Women at the Grand and the remake of Rose Marie in CinemaScope. Little Women (also a remake) was released in 1949, Rose Marie around 1953, so the theater (and neighborhood) must have still been in good shape then.

One of my schoolmates lived right next to the Grand. I thought he was so lucky. I remember the unusual marquee (which a comment here mentioned). I thought it was a nice theater, rather classy actually (due to the unusual marquee). I don’t remember it being a reverse theater. Interesting.

I looked at one of those Google maps of Harrisburg a few weeks ago and was surprised to see the building that housed the Roxy (across from Christ Lutheran Church) is still there. That must be the last remnant of the Burg neighborhood movie theaters still around. (I’m in southern California now, up the freeway from where all my favorite movies were made).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 28, 2018 at 11:44 am

The Grand Theatre was the largest of four neighborhood houses opened in Harrisburg in September, 1914, according to an article in the October 10, 1914, issue of Motion Picture News. Originally seating 1,200, the Grand was owned by J. M. Lenney, and was his second Harrisburg movie house, the first being Lenney’s Theatre at 5-7 S. 13th Street. The Grand was a reverse theater, with the screen at the entrance end of the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

The Grand Theatre was listed in the 1922 Harrisburg city directory.

carolgrau on July 7, 2010 at 1:50 pm

We started to install the level floor and turn it into a roller rink in sixty six in sixty seven we opened the grand Roller Rink,,It did well for about six months then the neighborhood bbadasses tried to take over,, Once we told them to stay out , they started to harrass the customers outside the building, then they just stopped comming, and we closed it up…

JohnMessick on July 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

My mistake….He didn’t own the National. I knew he owned 4 theaters. I got the Grand and the National mixed up.

gfradar on July 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

The Grand did have a modist curved marquee it overhang the sidewalk by about 4-5 feet The Entrance was recessed into the 3 story building about 6 feet. Walter Yhost owned the Grand on Derry St, Roxy on 13th St, Penway on State and the Vale in Mechanicsburg. Don’t think he owned the National, but did own or manage the Paramount Theater in Mechanicsburg in the early 1900’s. the building was demolished about 2005.

1posterfan4sure on February 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

And Barry Sullivan was damn good actor, too. He was just one of those people destined to play second banana in “A” pictures and the lead in “B’s.” As such, he probably had a longer and more versatile career than many people who were bigger “stars.”

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Interesting, thanks. This sounds more like a double-bill that would have played at the Rio. It perhaps indicates that the Grand was going downhill by this time?
I think I know studios like MGM and Fox but when I go through one of those books that lists every film they ever made, like you, I find many I don’t know.
And then there were studios like Monogram (and Eagle Lion)…
There were so many films being made up through the ‘50s, and, yes, many of them forgettable. I think what we see available on DVD and otherwise today may just be the tip of the iceberg.
IMDB is a great source (for almost any film ever made).
BTW Barry Sullivan’s daughter is directing plays in the LA area.

1posterfan4sure on February 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

“Jail Busters” featured the Bowery Boys and “Loophole” was a 1954 retread starring Barry Sullivan, a man born to play the lead in B pictures, as a bank clerk accused of theft. Both from Monogram/Allied Artists. And I had to look ‘em up on IMDB, 'cause I didn’t remember them either. I’m a movie buff and I’ve been surprised when I look at theater listings from the 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s and 80s, and I don’t remember the titles of 99% of the movies. It’s not a bad memory, it’s just that so much is, was, and always has been, generally forgettable. Now maybe the Grand was showing those pictures on a Monday or Tuesday night, and had something great on the weekend, but one has to ask who would have come out on a cold February night and paid good money to sit through those two pictures. The last guy on the block without a TV? Five or ten years years before there might have been a crowd any night of the week, for anything, but playing movies like that in 1956 would have hastened the end for any theater. Just as making movies like that hastened the end of Monogram.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 16, 2010 at 11:53 pm

The Grand is still listed in newspaper ads as of Feb., 1956.
It was showing a double-feature: “Jail Busters” & “Loophole”. I’ve never heard of either film.

carolgrau on February 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Chuck I will help you anyway I can, I just remember alot of the booths if that will help you plus I know alot of the history to some of these…. Norelco

carolgrau on February 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The store was the music box and later moved down to the 13 hundred block on the oppisite side of the street from the Grand. My Uncle took over the Grand and we had a company put steel beams at the corners by the stage.. We took the steel frame work from the Shamokin Drive-In screen and the screen itself to level the floor. Then they put large sheets of plywood down and sealed them and we coated it with a special glossy mixture and let it dry for a week.. Then it was the Grand Roller Rink.

1posterfan4sure on February 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Hi Chuck! I’d be glad to add whatever info and memories I have. My e-mail address has been added to my profile.

JohnMessick on February 16, 2010 at 11:52 am

Hello Chuck….The National I know was owned by Walter Yost who had the Penway,Grand and the Valle in Mechanicsburg…John S in York is a well of knowledge and can help I am sure..So can Norelco.

1posterfan4sure on February 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

Thanks for the info, Chuck. If I had to make a guess I would say sometime in 1955 was the Grand’s last picture show. 1956 at the latest. It’s listed in an industry publication I have dated 1955 and it may have even been gone by the publication date, as many theaters were. 1955 seemed to be a watershed year for closures.

1posterfan4sure on February 16, 2010 at 8:17 am

That store was either called the Music Box, as you suggest, or the Juke Box. I was only in there a couple of times as a kid but remember it as a real rockin' joint with music playing loud. It was a good place to find a 45 that you couldn’t find downtown.

The Grand had a small, half-circle kind of marquis as a I recall, extending just over the sidewalk, and part of the facade was in maroon polished glass or something like that. I think the Grand may have closed as early as 1956 or 57. It was always closed from when I remember going by it, and that was 1959 or 60. One of the many casualties of TV.

Ross Care
Ross Care on February 16, 2010 at 7:34 am

I wish I had a photo of the Grand. I did not attend it as often as I went to the Penway and I mostly remember the Grand for being right on the sidewalk. (I had a school friend that lived in one of the homes next to the theater and I thought he was lucky). I don’t remember a lot about the interior.
Very interesting that it was operating in the ‘20s. Maybe someone else could offer more details on the marquee?
My family attended Christ Lutheran Church on 13th St. I understand from its website it is still there and functioning. The Roxy was right across from the church.
I also remember a record store down from the Grand on the opposite side of the street, the Music Box?

1posterfan4sure on February 16, 2010 at 6:37 am

The Grand had 700 seats, a good size for a neighborhood theater of the time. I’ve seen it listed in local papers as operating in the 1920s, so it was showing movies before talkies. We always passed this theater and the one a couple of blocks away on 13th Street (the Roxy) while riding the bus into town, and although both were closed, they interested me as a kid. In the early 60s the Grand became a church. They took down the neon letters spelling “Grand” and replaced them with the name of the church, Evangel Temple. When that folded it was turned into the Grand Roller Rink. (“Norelco,” shed some light on how the floor was leveled, would you?) After that the Grand again became a church, first catering to African-Americans, then Hispanics, reflecting the changing ethnicity of the neighborhood. In the early 2000s the city began demolishing condemned buildings that were in danger of collapse, and the Grand finally met its end.