Newtown Theatre

120 N. State Street,
Newtown, PA 18940

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Newtown Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The theatre is located on State Street, in the middle of Historic Newtown. It has a balcony, and the charm of theatres long past.

Contributed by Eric Silverman

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

RickB on December 20, 2006 at 4:40 pm

Per a recent article in Tempo (a publication of the Princeton Packet in New Jersey), the theater was built in 1831 as Newtown Hall and reconstructed in 1883. The first film screening was in 1906 and the building has remained in use as a movie theater ever since; it is asserted to be the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the United States. The Community Welfare Council of Newtown bought the building in 1953. In 1972 projectionist Amos Farruggio leased the theater from the Council; after he died in 1980 his widow, Marjorie, took over operations. The Farruggios' son John replaced his mother upon her passing in 2005.

HowardBHaas on August 27, 2007 at 11:38 am
Movie Screen Size:
24 feet 3 inches wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Scope)
19 feet wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Fixed flat masking in place)

Distance From
Projector Gate to center of the screen 56 feet
from Edge of Balcony to center of the screen 40 feet

Simplex E7 35 mm

Orchestra 274 Seats
Balcony 82 Seats
Total 356 Seats

HowardBHaas on August 27, 2007 at 11:40 am

also from theater’s website (which also features year by year which films have played!)

View link

The Newtown Theatre has an extensive history dating back to 1831. It is, in fact, the oldest movie theater in the United States with it’s first movie being shown in 1906. Originally built to be a hall for town gatherings and a “non sectarian” church for traveling ministers, it soon became a center of entertainment in Newtown.

By the early 1850’s the “Newtown Hall” (As it was then called) was used regularly for performances. These ranged from social dances to concerts, to theatrical productions, and magic lantern shows . In 1883, the building was reconstructed, larger than the first, and designed with stage performances in mind. However, a fire escape from the balcony was not added until 1904.

In 1906 the first movie was shown. In 1936, the interior of the building was redone and new equipment was purchased to enhance the movie-going experience. With the coming of Television and modern movies, Newtown Hall movies were becoming outdated. Rescued in 1953 by the Newtown Community Welfare Council, who now serve as trustees, the little theatre survives complete with the flavor and posters of a bygone era. In 1972, Amos Farruggio, a movie buff and licensed projectionist, rented the hall from the Council, spruced it up, and kept the theatre alive in Newtown until his death. The theatre was then ably run by his wife, Mrs. Farruggio until her death in June of 2005.

Change came again to the theatre on April 29, 1999 when after years of use one of the Theatres old Carbon Arc lamps broke, and the old two projector system was rearranged to accommodate a newer xenon lamp system, and a platter, no longer will the projectionist have to change from machine to machine every 20 minutes, but all things being equal, the original flavor of the theatre still remains.

The old play props are now covered with dust behind the screen at the Newtown Theatre, relics of another era…

The theatre had Air Conditioning installed in 2002 for the Gala showing of “Signs” that was filmed in part in Newtown. The theatre now has upgraded sound with the installation of Sony SDDS and DTS, and recently updated the older optical sound system to a Red Light Reader to accommodate the newer film formats.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 27, 2008 at 7:13 pm

How old are these photos?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Here is another undated photo.

HowardBHaas on February 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

Email arrived that the theater is soliciting donations from the public towards the cost of $100,000 digital projector.

RickB on March 19, 2012 at 5:34 am

Times of Trenton story on the theater and its attempts to raise money for the digital conversion here.

RickB on September 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

A fundraiser for the digital conversion will be held on September 29. Story from The Trentonian here.

RickB on June 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Theater is approaching its fundraising goal, with $12,000 to $17,000 still to go. story here.

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