Boyd Theatre

134 N. Queen Street,
Lancaster, PA 17603

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The Boyd Theater, Lancaster PA

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The Colonial Theatre was open by 1914. Seating was listed at 1,250. This theatre was later acquired by Boyd Theatres and was renamed the Boyd Theatre.

The Boyd Theatre closed in the mid-1960’s and was later demolished for a redevelopment of the area. Any further information on the Boyd/Colonial Theatre would be appreciated. Hopefully Dennis Zimmerman can fill in the history.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm

After college I had one of my first apartments at 123 N. Queen St. The second block was then the “theater district” of old Lancaster. I was still living there in the midst of the catastrophic demolition from which Lancaster has apparently still never quite recovered.
Four theaters were razed, including an abandoned old classic called the Hamilton. I am very sorry I never got to see the interior.
The night the wrecking ball was taken to the Brunswick Hotel was like a sequence in a Fellini movie!
My apartment was a few doors down from the Grand.
Of all the vintage Lancaster theaters only the historic Fulton Opera House survived. It was still showing films when I moved to the city.

CLeayman
CLeayman on July 2, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Vivid memory of seeing Byron Haskin’s THE NAKED JUNGLE (with Charlton Heston) at the Colonial sometime in 1954 at age 8. The imagery of the “Marabunta” – red killer ants – swarming over both land and people in lapidary Technicolor remains indelible.
The Boyd’s final feature was Minnelli’s THE SANDPIPER (with of Liz and Dick, of course) which I caught at a matinee on the theater’s last day of operation.
Both incarnations at that long ago site are sorely missed

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2010 at 1:24 pm

The Colonial Theatre in Lancaster is mentioned in the 1914 edition of The Stage Year Book. I’ve come across a couple of later references to it as Boyd’s Colonial Theatre.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on November 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Well, I guess it is time for me to add some of my recollections from the Lancaster theatres. I have been wanting to look up information in my scrap books, but have still not gotten around to it. I had saved all the pictures and newspaper articles when the theatres were torn down as well as the entire block of buildings on both sides of the street one block away from the center square of the city. The Boyd Theatre was originally called the Colonial. There was until the day it was demolished a small stained glass window about the one exit door from the main floor with a C in the middle of the window. Although there was at least one building on the corner of N. Queen and Chestnut Streets next to where the Boyd was located, the theatre actually widen beyond that building and the side of the theatre was next to W. Chestnut Street. The theatre had two balconies and there was fire escapes from exit doors on that side of the theatre which brought you down from either of the balconies to street level. I remember my Grandmother telling me that when they went to see the vaudeville shows at the Colonial, it was usually so crowded that after the show was over they would leave by the exit doors and walk down the first escapes. The Boyd had a very small lobby. I do not remember what it was like prior to the remodeling that was done in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. At that point the marquee was changed to the “half round” plastic and neon style popular during that time. A large verticle marquee was added at that time with the name BOYD in neon in very big letters visible for blocks. The box office was outside but was connected to the inner lobby of the theatre. The box office attendents got to their “station” by going back of the snack bar. The only lobby was a small short and narrow one right inside the front doors. For as big as the theatre was, you could not fit too many waiting patrons in the lobby. There was also no large staircase to take you upstairs to the balconies. I remember it was like a twisting and turning hallway with steps at either end and a slopping floor. Once you got to the balcony, you were in the balcony at the back of the seating area. So there was not even a lobby on the balcony level. I do not remember the second balcony ever being open in my days of movie going there. I cannot remember even how you could get up to that level. The lobby was not as wide as the theatre was. The best way to describe the building is it was like the letter “p.” The bottom of the “P' was the entrance and the lobby and the top of the "p” was the actual auditorium/theatre. It was always my understanding that the Boyd was owned by the company that eventually became the Sameric Theatre chain. When they remodeled the front and lobby of the theatre they also did some “remodeling” of the theatre itself. The biggest thing that I can remember is they covered up the front of the theatre boxes on either side of the proscenium with these “wavy” sheets of metal and these metal plants growing up those walls with lights shining on them from the bases. At the same timee they installed what they called stereo sound in the auditorium. There were these small brown boxes with round fabric covered holes placed on the walls in various locations throughout the auditorium, including the
balcony. I have pictures of the theatres when they were closed and standing there waiting to be demolished and also pictures of their demolishing. They were taken with a Kodak “brownie hawkeye” camera and also part of my scrap book. I hope this helps bring back more memories for people who attended this theatre. As was mentioned earlier, none of the megaplexes of today will ever replace the palaces of yesterday. P.S. = The Fulton Opera house is still in operation but used exclusively for stage shows, concerts, etc. When it was remodeled a number of years ago, it is my understanding that the projection room above its 2nd balcony was removed.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 2, 2010 at 2:38 am

Alexander Boyd, who built Philadelphia’s Boyd, is who acquired this theater. When he passed away in 1962, his company continued to own theaters. I don’t know whether he continued to own the Boyd into the 1960s but quite possibly so, in which case ther wasn’t any Sameric Corp. involvement.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on March 25, 2011 at 2:50 am

In the Lancaster Newspapers this week in their Lancaster history log column it is listed that on March 22, 1911 final plans were being laid for a new first-class vaudeville house on North Queen Street. The theatre was to be known as the Colonial Theatre and was to be equipped in the most modern manner. And until the 1960’s went it was remodeled and renamed the Boyd, it was called the Colonial.

Ross Care
Ross Care on March 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, right out of college I used to have an apartment in the middle of this same block in Lancaster’s late, lamented “theater district.” At 123 N. Queen until the entire block (and, of course, ALL the theaters, FOUR great old vintage venues) were razed around me.
It was just a few doors down from the Grand.
Thanks for the post.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Great write up DennisZ.

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