Penn Cinemas

147 North Main Street,
Butler, PA 16001

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

kencmcintyre on December 16, 2008 at 7:18 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, January 1938:

BUTLER, Pa.-Work progresses satisfactorily on the new 1,200-seat theater here for the Pennler Theater Corp. with the roof deck occasioning special attention this week. The theater is owned by Elias Ritts, Butler County National Bank, with the Pennler corporation as lessee.

Building is 60x181 feet, of brick and stone trim, with reinforced concrete floors. There will be two stores on the first floor adjoining the theater entrance. Theater offices will occupy the secoond floor. James E. Casale of New York is the architect and C.C. Miller and C.T. Dumbaugh of Butler are the general contractors. Pennler Theater Corp. operates the Capitol here.

Architorture on March 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm

i’m going for a thorough building tour on march 30th. last weekend i spoke with some people on the board and expressed interest in volunteering some time and expertise…

i might get a chance to actually do some design work at this building

Architorture on February 5, 2007 at 1:58 pm

i’m certain they are different theatres- penn cinema is still up and operational…

i just don’t think that the current PNC bank sits on the same site as the butler theatre…by looking at the site my best guess is that the butler theatre which is listed with a east jefferson address would have been located behind the PNC bank. today there is a drive thru teller area there- but i doubt the butler theatre was torn down to fulfill that specific purpose

Patsy on February 3, 2007 at 11:45 am

Architorture: Are you saying that the Butler Theatre is still standing? If so, please post on the Butler Theatre any information you have. I know there was some confusion at one time as to the Penn Cinema and the Butler Theatre. I recall speaking to someone connected with the Penn Cinema and thought I recall being told that the Butler had been torn down. If this is incorrect information, I welcome the correction.

Architorture on February 3, 2007 at 10:35 am

just saw “moon of the wolf” last night at the penn cinema- in the small screening room or ‘piggy back’ theatre

i’m not so sure someone’s information on the PNC bank is correct- that building has been there since at least the 1930’s- hardly an era of ‘urban renewal’

Patsy on December 13, 2006 at 4:41 am

maria62: I couldn’t figure out the connection with the Polk to the Penn Cinema in Butler PA until I saw the name CASALE. The theatre in Butler that most interests me is the former Butler Theatre which was an Eberson atmopheric.

maria62 on December 12, 2006 at 4:57 pm

I am new to this website but wanted to share what I do know. Casale designed at least one other U.S. atmospheric theater—the glorious Polk Theatre in Lakeland, FL ( It is central FL—between Tampa and Orlando. It opened on Dec. 22, 1928 and I am happy to report it is still going strong. I have just returned and may be going again in mid-January. I am happy to answer questions, etc. As soon as I have time, I will figure out how to post a photo and info. on it. Post here a friendly reminder and I promise to act when I can.

reelmanager on February 27, 2006 at 8:12 am in list click “archives” or perhaps “contact us” for additional help from staff. The downtown theatres were pictured in an article about the history of the areas' entertainment, parks, and leisure. Can’t remember the date but is within the last 10 years.

Patsy on February 19, 2006 at 3:56 am

reelmanager: Thanks so much for this Butler Theatre information as I’m still looking to see a photo(s)! And how does one locate the Butler Eagle online archive link?

reelmanager on February 18, 2006 at 7:42 am

Patsy is correct. The Butler theatre was not the Penn. It was located around the corner of the same block. The back doors of the two theatres were just a few feet apart down the alley. The Butler was at one time named the Butler Warner Theatre. Several locals remember seeing one picture of it in the local newspaper, Butler Eagle, several years ago. I suppose their online archive may be some help.

Patsy on February 10, 2006 at 4:45 pm

ken: Thanks so much for this link, but I have always thought that the Penn was and is not the Butler Theatre which was an Eberson theatre.

Patsy on January 25, 2006 at 6:18 am

But they have a bank to put their money in now as the site is home to a PNC Bank! I am still hoping to see a photo of the Butler Theatre though my historical contacts in the town haven’t been much help to me.

Patsy on January 25, 2006 at 6:16 am

Ken: Thanks…will do! And as you may know Butler PA had the Butler Theatre that was built by John Eberson! Unfortunately, it is gone and the folks of Butler are without this piece of rich theatre history!

KenLayton on January 25, 2006 at 5:27 am

My photocopy of that article came from the Washington State Library directly from an actual copy of the magazine (not microfilm!). It’s too bad the day I was there (several years ago) the photocopy machine wasn’t working very well so my copies came out so-so. The library is no longer open to the public (just State of Washington employees now) so I can’t go and make new, better copies. The picture quality in the original hard copy of the magazine is outstanding. I understand that Architectural Record renewed all copyrights on their magazines so it wouldn’t be likely to get permission to post their photographs or text on a website. That’s why I suggest going directly to the magazine publisher.

You could check with your own or neighboring state libraries to see if they have actual hard copies of the magazine that they could photocopy for you.

Patsy on January 25, 2006 at 3:42 am

Ok, suppose they have a website so will check that route. Thanks.

KenLayton on January 24, 2006 at 8:27 pm

That article is available by contacting the archives at Architectural Record magazine.

Patsy on January 24, 2006 at 11:04 am

Ken: Could that 1938 article be posted here if it isnt' too long? If it can be copied and sent, I’d provide my mailing address in an email as that information is on my CT profile page.

KenLayton on January 24, 2006 at 6:32 am

There is an excellent detailed article about this theater, illustrated and photographs included, in the July 1938 issue of Architectural Record magazine (pages 100 and 101). It states the original seating as 1,040.

Patsy on December 15, 2005 at 9:52 am

reelmanager: Thanks for the update and corrected information.

reelmanager on December 15, 2005 at 8:43 am

A note about the previous comment…. The Penn had been a twin since about 1965. The original auditorium was never split. A second auditorium was added upstairs over the lobby. It is referred to as a piggy-back design and one of the only ones in the country. So the original auditorium was never touched. The 1996-97 renovation was just cosmetic; new drapes, new floors, new seats, new sound, and larger concession area.

Patsy on October 21, 2005 at 11:09 am

There is a big difference between the word renovation and restoration! After a costly renovation in 1997 I wonder why the current owner decided to keep it or change the interior to a twinned cinema when the original was a single screen venue? If it had been a restoration project, perhaps it would be a single venue today.

Patsy on October 17, 2005 at 11:01 am

I clicked on the name, James E. Casale and he is listed as having only built the Penn Cinema. If anyone has further information on this architect, please post and the Penn is not closed as listed above.

Patsy on October 17, 2005 at 10:58 am

The Penn and the Butler were different theatres…the Penn remains, but the Butler is gone.

Patsy on September 15, 2005 at 5:01 am

I believe the Penn Theatre and the Butler Theatre were different theatres. If that is the case, I still hope to see a photo of the Butler Theatre.