Hogan Opera House

Susquehanna, PA 18847

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Already open in the 1880’s, the Hogan Opera House in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania appears to have been a well-established fixture in the greater Southern Tier/NE PA area in the first two decades of the 20th century. Movies were shown here as early as 1902. Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide indicates it was a ground floor theatre, and also indicates “a new $40,000 Opera House in course of construction, under the same management, ready October 1906”. Be that as it may, the opera house continued unabated as a hub for local entertainment throughout the next decade and a half. The last mention I have found for the opera house was in 1927, when the lighting at the facility was redone.

There was a later movie theater in Susquehanna called the Town Theater. It was open by 1943 and was destroyed by fire in 1960. It is not known if it the Town Theater was the same as the second opera house, or if either of the old opera houses still stand. Downtown Susquehanna contains many fascinating old buildings, and there are several candidates that could conceivably have at one time held an opera house.

Contributed by Adam Marsland

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I don’t think the new opera house of 1906 ever got finished. The 1909-1910 Cahn guide still lists only the Hogan Opera House in Susquehana, and the description is the same as in the 1906 guide so it was not a new theater. There was a new manager, though. Doherty & Shanahan had been replaced by J. J. Ryan.

However, The May 27, 1916, issue of The American Contractor had an item about a planned new opera house in Susquehanna. It was to seat 1,100, cost $50,000, and be designed by Leon H. Lempert. The promoter of the project was J. J. Ryan. The construction contract had been let.

But that project appears to have fallen through too. Then in 1921 the March 19 issue of the same magazine reported that J. J. Ryan was contemplating the building of a moving picture theater at Susquehanna. It was to cost about $50,000 and to be designed by Leon Lempert, which sounds like a recycling of the project from 1916. I don’t think that the 1921 project got built, either. The 1926 Yearbook of Motion Pictures lists only the 400-seat Opera House for Suquehanna.

adamghost on April 8, 2014 at 1:13 am

I love your detective work, Joe!

adamghost on April 8, 2014 at 1:19 am



The section under “Susquehanna” implies a second theater on Main Street called the Star Theater, in operation in 1910.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

The Star Theatre was most likely a storefront nickelodeon of the sort that flourished during the 1900s and 1910s. Even very small towns often had one or two, but if there was an existing theater to compete with they usually didn’t last long. They were like web sites at GeoCities.

I haven’t been able to find the Star Theatre mentioned in any of the trade publications from the era that are available on the Internet.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 8, 2014 at 10:44 am

The Hogan Opera House was the only theater listed for Susquehanna in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Guide. 850 seats, ground floor, A. G. Doherty, Mgr. Tickets 25 cents to 50 cents. Electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 26 ‘ wide X 17 ’ high, and the stage was 40 feet deep. Professor Warner was the leader of the house band, 6 to 8 members. The 1897 population of Susquehanna was 10,000.

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