Colonial Theatre

227 Bridge Street,
Phoenixville, PA 19460

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Colonia Theater - 2010

Opened in 1903, the Colonial Theatre initially began as a legitimate and vaudeville house before turning to movies by 1914.

The Colonial Theatre is famous for being featured in the 1958 sci-fi low budget classic “The Blob” starring a very young Steve McQueen. The theatre also makes a cameo appearance in 1978’s “Grease”.

The Colonial Theatre made a comeback in the 1980’s through owner Jim Breneman who was a pipe organ restorer. He installed a very elaborate Kimball organ and began hosting concerts and silent films, along with the occasional live act until his death in 1992 which brought everything to a grinding halt.

First run features failed and the theatre was scheduled for the wrecking ball, until a community group was formed and the theatre was saved. The Colonial Theatre has been restored and renovated and reopened in 1999, showing art house, independent, and classic films as well as hosting live entertainment and special events, such as the annual “Blobfest” festival, a homage to the film that the theatre was featured in.

Seating 658 in the historic original auditorium Theatre 1 (437 on the main floor and 185 in the balcony.) The movie screen is a generous 12' 5" x 30' wide for films. The installation of a Wurlitzer pipe organ was completed in 2010.

In November 2011, the Colonial Theatre non-profit organization purchased the National Bank of Phoenixville building (built in 1925 and which recently housed the Journal Register newspaper) next door to the theatre at 225 Bridge Street. Carnevale Eustis Architects of Phoenixville conceived the eight million dollar expansion, an adaptive reuse of the historic building. Opened on May 12, 2017, the main floor of the bank building has a huge gorgeous lobby with marble decoration, its original glass ceiling, a baby grand piano, a concession stand with a bar, restrooms, and a 2nd floor rooftop garden suite that had been the bank manager’s office.

Reusing the previously existing building space at the rear of the bank lobby, is Theatre 2, first called the Blue Theatre, and since renamed The White Rabbit Theatre. Theatre 2 has 174-seats, with 125-stadium seats which are retractable for live events, plus a balcony with 49-seats, with a 10' 2" x 24' screen for films and live events, a concession stand with a bar and restrooms.

Below the bank lobby is Theatre 3, first called the Red Theatre, since renamed The Berry Theatre, with 65-seats, a 6' 4" x 14' 4" screen for films and live events.

The first films in the new auditoriums on May 12, 2017 were “The Lost City of Z” in auditorium 2 and “Their Finest” in auditorium 3.

On July 31, 2018, Mary Foote, the long-time general manager of the Colonial Theatre, who led the non-profit effort to rescue, reopen, and expand the Colonial Theatre, retired as the Executive Director.

In March 2020, movie theatres in the Philadelphia region were ordered to close, along with “all non-essential businesses” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After movie theatres were allowed to reopen with safety precautions, many stayed closed, but in early-July 2020, the Colonial Theatre became one of two movie theatres (the other being the Water Tower Cinema of Montgomeryville, PA) to reopen in the Philadelphia region, one month before the reopening of local multiplexes run by national chains.

Contributed by Ted Wilby, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

spectrum
spectrum on September 7, 2009 at 9:11 am

Anybody know what happened to the 4/32 Kimball previously installed at the Colonial? I have a recording by Clark Wilson of the final concert before the organ’s removal in 1995.

Crazy Bob Madara
Crazy Bob Madara on September 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I have the old Peerless carbon arc lamps that appeared in The Blob stored in my garage. I made a short video of us picking them up & meeting Ted The Fiddler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnGGcvQngz0

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Last night’s Oscar telecast had a montage of horror films. Included was a scene from the 1958 movie “The Blob” showing moviegoers fleeing the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. In recent years, the community nonprofit organization that rescued the Colonial restored its facade to how it looked in 1958. I’m told the partygoers at the Oscar telecast last night at the Colonial were overjoyed to see the footage broadcast worldwide.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

What a real neat find.Great stories.

RetroRoadmap
RetroRoadmap on February 6, 2011 at 9:40 am

So glad to read all of the nice comments about my favorite local movie house where I’m a member and volunteer. We are starting up tours of the theatre on every first Sunday of the month and we’ve started a Facebook page, Flickr page and Twitter account to keep fans up-to-date on what is going on with the theatre.

http://www.facebook.com/thecolonialtheatre?v=info
http://twitter.com/colonialtheatre
http://www.flickr.com/groups/colonialtheatre

bobc316
bobc316 on February 13, 2013 at 8:44 pm

the KIMBALL PIPE ORGAN owned by owners of theSTATE THEATRE sold it to JIM BRENEMAN in 1967, he sam larosa instaulled this piece to the brookline theatre in havertown, when in 1973 was heavenly damaged by a flood was later stored in a garage until being installed at the colonial in 1975 after jim’s death sam larosa purchsed it and later sold it to the CHICAGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY where it remains.

TheALAN
TheALAN on February 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

In what style was the Colonial Theatre built and who was the architect? Also, who operated the theater when it opened? Thanks!

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 23, 2017 at 11:43 pm

Recent article about renovations.

http://www.pottsmerc.com/business/20170512/phoenixvilles-colonial-theatre-opens-new-wing-2-new-theaters

hdtv267
hdtv267 on May 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

Looks as those the Colonial Theatre is getting ready for a re-opening with a Steve Earle show scheduled for June 10th.

In the interim they are hosting virtual screenings and offering curbside concessions, pre-ordering online and pick up outside the theatre. Info on the website.

hdtv267
hdtv267 on July 2, 2020 at 5:48 am

The Steve Earle show was cancelled – but the Colonial is scheduled for a re-open on July 3rd, 2020

“Ample space between seats, frequent sanitization of amenities, and a mask requirement for staff and moviegoers — unless they’re eating popcorn in their seats, at least six feet from other groups.”

Full article here on Inquirer.com

https://www.inquirer.com/news/coronavirus-movie-theaters-open-philadelphia-bucks-chester-montgomery-delaware-county-colonial-theater-phoenixville-20200702.html

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