Gem Theater

149 1st Avenue,
Derry, PA 15627

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Gem Theater

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The Gem Theater was constructed around October 1916 and was presumably opened in December of that year; it also had a balcony in addition to its main floor seating. The theatre was still active, showing movies until 1972, experiencing such advents as sound and even 3-D. The Gem Theater sat vacant for many years after that until 1983, when it became a hardware store.

The Gem Theater was inactive again shortly thereafter until December 1998, when the theater was used as a performing arts venue for concerts by independent rock bands; that raised the ire of many local residents who assisted in closing the theater again after reported unruliness by its adolescent patrons. The Gem Theatre is now in residential use.

Contributed by William B. Warfield

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

robboehm
robboehm on August 31, 2015 at 8:41 pm

According to an item in the 9/9/1916 The Moving Picture World ground had been broken for the Gem the week before. The cost of the theater was to be $10,000 and it was to be used exclusively for films.

CanaryNo1
CanaryNo1 on September 9, 2015 at 10:31 am

A lot of good memories at that movie theater! The last movie I saw there was Yellow Submarine. Also big movies that created long lines to get in was the Beatles' A Hard Day’s Night and Help! Fred Piper, the owner, would give out free movie passes at the Halloween parade for all the kids participating in the parade! I’m glad William B. Warfield chose to write about the Gem Theater!

moax429
moax429 on April 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Does anybody have any pictures of the inside of this theater in its heyday? I’m curious to see what my cousin enjoyed when she was growing up, as well as what I wished I could have seen there had I been around in the 50’s (I was born in 1962 – even any pictures of the inside of the Gem from that period would be interesting).

Thanks.

moax429
moax429 on April 4, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Well, thanks very much, elmorovivo, for the photos of the exterior of the Gem (that I remember seeing in 1976, when I was 14, while visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Derry; the Gem was already closed then, but the marquee still remained and I think it was painted blue and yellow when it closed four years earlier).

But do you, or anybody else, have any photos of the interior of the Gem? I heard the auditorium also had a balcony. Anybody who has said photos of inside the Gem, that would be very much appreciated.

Thanks again!

moax429
moax429 on October 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Sorry to ask again, but it’s been a little over a year now, and I’m hoping somebody will come through this time.

Does anybody have any pictures of the inside of the Gem? I’m curious to see what it looked like!

Thanks!

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