Colonial Theatre

12-14 S. Potomac Street,
Hagerstown, MD 21740

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Colonial Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Colonial Theatre was opened in 1914, designed by Harry E. Yessler. It is considered the first large movie theater built in the Hagerstown area. The nearby Maryland Theatre was designed specifically for vaudeville, though later became a movie house.

Its exterior was designed in a fantastically ornate Beaux-Arts style, with white terra cotta columns separating sets of windows on the second and third floors of the theater, topped by a large lunette filled with symbolic sculpture. The interior, however, was much more subdued in its decor. Some of its original interior was replaced during a 1930’s remodeling. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

The Colonial Theatre’s days as a movie house are long behind it, and the theater currently serves as a church.

In 1978, the Colonial Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

AndyT
AndyT on April 3, 2004 at 11:24 pm

Explaining these basics to Michael is like explaining a palm tree to a polar bear.

gmorrison
gmorrison on December 10, 2005 at 3:42 pm

Hello!

Does anyone out there want to discuss the Colonial? Actually, I want to learn more about its history. I grew up in H-town, and went to the Colonial many times to see movies as a kid. Does anyone out there know if the theatre ever had a stage? Having been built in 1914, I can only imagine it was once a vaudeville AND movie house like the Maryland acroos the street.
I have a memory of my father telling me that the stage had been removed from the back of the theatre when the policy became movies only. My father moved to H-town in 1947 to work as an accountant, but worked part-time at the Academy and the Maryland as a projectionist. He still had his IATSE card after working some years in Philadelphia-area theatres before moving to Hagerstown. He often mentioned another man who he worked with who was a full-time projectionist at the Maryland, but I can’t remember the name right now—but its on the tip of consciousness!
Please respond if you have any info on the above!
Thanks!

Glenn
Washington, DC

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 30, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Here is the website for the church, which has a recent photo:
http://www.fcmin.org/

Roloff
Roloff on April 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm

More of the postcard shown above can be seen in my Flickrstream:
View link

mpoyner
mpoyner on January 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Hi, everyone. My name is Matt Poyner. The Colonial is now home to Bridge of Life Church. This is the same church as Faith Chapel, just a name change. The building was bought by the church in the late 70s and of course some things have been changed on the inside to make it more conducive to being a church, but the auditoriaum itself is fantastic with it’s vaulted ceilings and balcony.

Unfortunately, there was a fire in the late 1930s, which forced full interior renovations, so the interior is not in the same ornate style as the exterior facade, although there are some minor flourishes. The stage is still there. I know that the church has added a wooden altar down in front of the stage, and other obvious things needed for sound systems, musicians, etc. Backstage is still the same as it’s been for a hundred years, I imagine. There is a trap door leading to a room under the stage which we all used to play with as kids (I’m 33 now).

You’ll happy to know that a small group of us have just started having free movie showings every other Saturday. These showings are free and open to the public, not just our church members. Free popcorn and sodas, so come check it sometime. We still have some memorabilia from the building’s time as a theatre.

If anyone has any memorabilia from this theatre that they want to sell, please write me at mpoyner AT gmail DOT com. I am trying to put together some stuff to create a display for movie nights, and other times.

Our facade is beautiful. (check it out at http://www.bridgeoflife.org)) We are listed with the National Register of Historic Places, but we can’t seem to get any grant money to restore the facade because of our non-profit org status. Don’t really understand the issues there, but we don’t the money to restore it on our own. Anyone have any suggestions? Some of the beautiful work that adorns the facade has begun to crumble and occasionally fall down. It would be a shame to see it go bad.

Feel free to ask any questions that you may have about the building and it’s history. I know a little bit about it, but others here may know more.

mpoyner
mpoyner on January 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Another point: We do not have an actualy theatre-type film screen or reel projector. The digital projector we have is getting ready to be replaced by a new one because of problems with the old one.

We really need a much bigger screen, but for now it’s fun just to have the old place showing films again.

If anyone has any ideas about where to get a better screen, or places that sell used ones, etc., please let me know.

mpoyner
mpoyner on January 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

If anyone knows someone who used to work at the Colonial, please also contact me about that.

Again, my email address is mpoyner AT gmail DOT com

BigK01
BigK01 on February 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I live in Hagerstown and am pretty handy. I would love to volunteer to help with anything you would need contact me at thanks !!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Here is a December 1975 item from the Hagerstown Daily Mail:

The last stage performance in the 61-year old Colonial Theater in downtown Hagerstown is scheduled Saturday night, December 13. The Free State Country Music Jamboree will present its final show in the historic theater, built in 1914, and the theater’s last public entertainment show. The theater has been sold and will become a church at the start of the new year.

Reserved and general admission tickets are available for the show by telephoning 781-2800 or stopping at the Colonial Theater box office on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Saturday’s show, however, will not be the last Free State Jamboree, Kline will re-open the Jamboree on Saturday, January 10, in North Hagerstown High School auditorium with a show by Mel Street, Freddie Hart and the Heartbeats, and Buddy Rick and the Country Giants.

A public sale of historic mementoes from both the Colonial and Maryland Theaters will be held at the Maryland Theater on Saturday, December 20. The sale will include usable theater items.

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