158 W. High Avenue,
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Quaker Cinema (Official)
Previously operated by: Ohio Movies, Shea Theatres
Architects: Harry C. Holbrook
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Quaker Theatre
This was the sister theatre to the Bexley Theatre in Dover, OH. It was a large auditorium theatre seating 748 prior to being divided. It’s auditorium wasn’t fancy, but did have some interesting blue ring lights. It also had a small stage area.
It opened November 1, 1940 and had an Art Moderne style facade. Under it’s current 1970’s fake white brick facade, had some beautiful green Art Deco panels and glass block (visible through some of the fake broken brick). Glass block is visible in the upstairs projection (though no light can pass due to the fake white brick).
I want to say, as with the Bexley Theatre, Ohio Theatres of Pittsburg owned it. The manager in the 1970’s & 1980’s was a wonderful woman named Rose who ran it for Ohio Theatres with her family. Ohio Theatres really forced her to make changes to the place that just really took away from it’s charm. They threw a wall right up the center and shortened the theatre to make it into a duplex. It was odd as the seating was still pretty much the same so one aisle hit the screen straight-on, while the other angled in.
The theatre re-opened in the 1990’s with no real changes but to just get it operational after Ohio Theatres sold it in the late-1980’s. It’s operating as a second-run duplex.
In 2014 the exterior of the building was restored to its original appearance, and work is about to begin to renovate the auditoriums.
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The Quaker was operated by Shea Enterprises in the early sixties. Gerald Shea was president and GM. This company ran theaters in New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania at the time.
Here is an undated photo:
Hoyts(now Regal)Cinema at the New Towne Mall basically forced this theater and another twin cinema next to the old Nichols store out in the early 90s.
Ironically,if I recall correctly,the Quaker had some trouble reopening in the later 90s as a second run due to some resistance from Hoyts.
At any rate it’s a nice theater,and downtown New Philadelphia just wouldn’t look right without it!
The Quaker was built for the Shea circuit. Shea then already operated a theater called the Union in New Philadelphia. The Union Theatre had been built as the Union Opera House in 1863, according to Boxoffice of July 1, 1939, which reported that the new Shea house was under construction.
However, Boxoffice of June 22, 1940, reported that ground had just been broken for Shea’s new house at New Philadelphia, so unless they built two theaters there in that short space of time (I can’t find any evidence that they did) the original project must have been delayed.
I haven’t found the opening month for the Quaker, but the November 9, 1940, issue of Boxoffice reported that, following the opening of the Quaker, admission prices at the Union Theatre had been reduced.
Shea operated both the Quaker and the Union into the 1950s. The last mention of the Union I’ve found is in Boxoffice of October 30, 1954. I don’t know what became of the building after that.
Now showing first run films.
The October 31, 1940, issue of the New Philadelphia Daily Times said that the new Quaker Theatre would open the following night. Among the many congratulatory advertisements in this issue of the Times was one from Harry C. Holbrook, the architect.