Colonial Theater

313-17 Hamilton Street,
Allentown, PA 18101

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Dave Harding
Dave Harding on December 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Here is an article on what is planned for the site of the former colonial theater.

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-three-city-center-colonial-planning-20131219,0,5123027.story

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

Clearer photos from a subsequent page: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

Renovations described in this blurry 1963 trade article: Boxoffice

DjFlip
DjFlip on February 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

WOW sad to hear the theater was destroyed (taken down) and no one did anything to save (restore) it. This building should have became a piece of history.. I also want to add that the info about it being closed since 1982 is incorrect and I am sure of that because in 1984 I saw the movie Breaking there.. Again, so sad to hear its demolition.. Just found out about the demolition because I been away from Allentown since 1992.. I love and miss Allentown so if any one knows a good site where I can download images, please let me know..

skipfusion
skipfusion on August 1, 2010 at 5:43 am

Well, here it is, if anybody wants to see it. I guess it is maybe the best way of seeing how truly horrible the condition of the building had gotten, so if there was any doubt in your mind whether it should be torn down, this’ll put a rest to it. The theater is hard to see, it was not only dark, but we were hanging onto a metal ladder than came down from the projection booth. The floor was invisible and sounded like a small lake had formed at the bottom. I tried to boost the levels to make it more visible and in the process got carried away with editing…now it looks like some cheap Ghost Hunters knock-off. Oh well, it still gives me the chills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PP27ew2mwA

melbatoast60
melbatoast60 on July 16, 2007 at 5:05 am

There was a huge rehearsal hall on the third floor (I think it was the third). In the 70’s when I was a teen I sang with a local Up With People group and we rehearsed there.

RJS
RJS on March 23, 2007 at 2:58 pm

Here is a 1990 image of the Colonial in Allentown.

View link

hondo59
hondo59 on March 21, 2006 at 5:02 am

The demolition company said that they were going to save the “Colonial” marquee script and give it to the city.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 2, 2005 at 9:16 am

The Estey organ was an Opus 1843 Size 3/25 installed at a cost of $12,000.

RJS
RJS on September 14, 2005 at 3:45 am

The zip code for this theater should be updated to 18101.
This theater was sold by UA in the late 1980’s and the new owner did nothing with it except lock the doors. It pretty much stood empty and totally unused and not maintained until the city started cracking down because it was falling into disrepair.
The owner made a few roof repairs around 2000, but then stopped because he lacked the proper permits for the type of work being completed.
For at least 5 years city engineers kept saying the building was in danger of collapse, but it just kept on standing. After many court battles, the city began demolition March 2005. I drove by in August and an empty lot remains. The location is directly to the west of the old Lehigh County courthouse.

teecee
teecee on July 7, 2005 at 3:00 am

An Estey organ, opus 1843, was installed in this theater in 1920.

PeteHawke
PeteHawke on April 1, 2005 at 7:59 am

Hi Tim, thanks for the info. Yes, downtown Allentown is a ghost of its former self. There is a new 16 screen multiplex in Allentown on Airport Road – – – the Carmike. And the already old AMC Tilghman 8 with no stadium seats on the West End. The 19th street Theater still exists showing foreign and independent films mixed with live stage productions. Bethlehem is doing much better in revitalizing its downtown – – both on the North and South sides. The former Bethlehem Steel property is going to be changed into an entertainment complex with theaters, restaurants, shops and hotels within the next 5 – 10 years (they say) with the hopes of also getting slot machine gambling. If that happens, it’ll really take off. Bethlehem also has a 10 multiplex theater – – the Regal Cinemas over South Mountain near Black River Road. Forgot to mention that Northampton has its beautiful art deco theater – – the Roxy – – but it is a second-run movie house. Do you remember the drive-in movie theaters? All are gone except for the Shankweiler’s D.I. (the oldest in the USA) above Allentown and Becky’s D.I. near Allentown. People still go out to see a movie, but videos and DVDs have definitely taken over. We’re in the era of the COUCH POTATO. Pete Hawke

telliott
telliott on March 29, 2005 at 9:38 am

Hi Pete, see the listing for the Rialto in Allentown, I’ve written about my memories of attending the movies at various theatres around the city. Also look under the News section about the demolition of the Colonial, there are several comments there. As I’ve said in those other postings, I have several fond memories of visiting my aunt and uncle who lived on Walnut St. and attending many theatres there. It’s too bad that there are none of the theatres that you mentioned above left. Not even the Lehigh Valley multiplex where you would think would be a perfect place for a new one. And none downtown. I guess the downtown is not like it used to be.

PeteHawke
PeteHawke on March 29, 2005 at 7:50 am

I grew up attending the Colonial Theater. It was the most beautiful theater in the Lehigh Valley. Two of the first movies I remember seeing there was PARRISH and SUSAN SLADE. Then in 1962 WEST SIDE STORY played there for almost 6 months on a reserved seat basis. After its run, the theater closed for renovations and reopened near Christmas with Natalie Wood in GYPSY. The following year LAWRENCE OF ARABIA graced its huge screen. It always showcased the best movies in town. Seeing it razed is heart-breaking. I’m sure its owner only used it as a tax write-off. Do you remember the other theaters in Allentown?
RIALTO near 10th & Hamilton
TRANSIT also near 10th & Hamilton
BOYD 9th St opposite Hess’s (now gone also)
EARLE on 8th St
MIDWAY near 6th & Hamilton
CAPRI near 6th & Hamilton
ERIC multiplex at 4th & Hamilton
PARK on St. John St
TOWNE at 6th & Gordon Sts
ALLEN at New & Allen Sts.
PLAZA at the Whitehall Mall
LEHIGH VALLEY CINEMAS Multiplex at the Lehigh Valley Mall
They are all gone.
And what about Bethlehem?
GLOBE, COLLEGE, PALACE, NILE, LEHIGH (the bug house)
and recently THE MOVIES THEATER in Hellertown. I was the theater manager there for four years (1990 – 1994). Its owner Elle Koffler died a couple of years ago.
No nostalgia left except the BOYD Theater in Bethlehem which is still going strong.
Does anybody have any comments on these particular theaters?
Pete Hawke

Seth
Seth on March 17, 2005 at 6:47 am

God, it took them that long? I ran up and photographed it Thanksgiving weekend, and they already had barriers up in front of it.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 16, 2005 at 7:48 pm

Theater Demolition

ALLENTOWN, PA-January 12, 2005 â€" Demolition is under way on a blighted movie house in downtown Allentown.
Mayor Roy Afflerbach says the city is “eliminating a building that has long been an eyesore.” The Colonial Theater, a French Beaux Arts style building, opened in 1921 as both a vaudeville theater and movie house. It closed in 1981.

A man bought it in 1988, saying he planned to renovate and use it for performing arts and conventions. City officials had been trying to get him to repair the building ever since discovering a leaking roof in 1996.

In November, the building was condemned when engineers determined it was in imminent danger of collapse.

Officials say the demolition will take several weeks.

(Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

teecee
teecee on March 2, 2005 at 1:35 pm

small thumbnails here, don’t try to expand w/o paid subscription:

View link

sdoerr
sdoerr on November 22, 2004 at 12:06 pm

“Colonial Theater Set To Be Demolished” by Ross Melnick
http://cinematreasures.org/news/12356_0_1_0_C/

moviematt007
moviematt007 on November 14, 2004 at 8:07 am

Lehigh Valley newspaper The Morning Call had reported the following on Novermber 6, 2004, at this link:

View link

“City cracks down on Colonial Theater
Allentown officials tell ex-owner decrepit site must be fixed in 15 days or face demolition.”

The article isn’t too lengthy, but it details the trials and tribulations of this theater’s unfortunate past 20 years. If the officials have their way, it doesn’t seem the theatre will be standing too much longer —– though demolishing it would serve the best interests of public safety and the local businesses.

Seth
Seth on November 12, 2004 at 10:07 am

Question for any locals. Is this theater worth seeing before it goes?