Schenley Theater

3960 Forbes Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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Schenley Theater

The Schenley Theater was located on Forbes Avenue near Schenley Avenue. It was a very popular theater due to proximity to both University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

This theater had a theater pipe organ (Moller 3/11) which was, unfortunately, never played during the period in which I attended movies at this theater. Building has been demolished.

Contributed by robert simpson

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

milanp on December 27, 2010 at 5:53 am

Thanks for the info, Ed.
A bowling alley on the second floor?! That’s a hoot!
Any idea when the Strand finally closed its doors? It looked like the type of funky neighborhood theater that was already a dying breed when I was growing up in the ‘60s.
One of the things I loved about Pittsburgh theaters was that you could predict which movies would open where because they all had a distinct personality/identity of their own. That’s certainly a far cry from today when everything opens everywhere because every damn multiplex has 24 interchangeable, anonymous screens.
It was the same thing in NYC back in the '70s (particularly with “Bloomingdales Belt” theaters like Cinema 1, the Coronet and the Sutton) when I was in college.

edblank on December 27, 2010 at 6:01 am

The Strand Theatre is on Cinema Treasures. It’s No. 6947. I have not gotten around to putting an entry on there yet. Can’t give you the Strand’s closing date offhand. It was mostly a second-run neighborhood house but tried a bit of art in its later years. I believe that it had the second-highest capacity (to the Schenley) of all the Oakland theaters.

milanp on December 27, 2010 at 7:16 am

I will definitely check it out, Ed; thanks again.
Some of the best, and happiest, memories of my misbegotten youth was taking a Greyhound bus to downtown Pittsburgh (this was before I could drive), and spending a day in all those great Pittsburgh theaters seeing one movie after another.
I remember a New Year’s Day 1974 trip when I saw “The Exorcist” at the Warner, “Sleeper” at the Fiesta then took a cab (big spender!) to the Squirrel Hill to see “Day for Night.”
Or New Year’s Day 1975 (“The Godfather, Part II” at the Gateway, “The Night Porter” at Shadyside" and “The Little Prince” at King’s Court).
Or day-after-Thanksgiving 1974 (“The Klansman” at the Stanley, “The Gambler” at the Fiesta, “Law and Disorder” at the Fulton and “Earthquake” at the Warner).
By the time the ‘70s ended, the mystique of Pittsburgh movie theaters was seriously on the wane.
I think it all dates back to the opening of Showcase East in June '76.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 2:58 am

A comment by Denis McNamara on the Sheridan Square Theatre page says that architect Edward J. Schulte listed this theater on his resume as his work. He was employed by H.E. Kennedy & Co. at the time. The following item appears in the August 5, 1913, issue of the journal American Stone Trade: “Architects H. E. Kennedy & Company, of this city, are preparing plans for $200.000 theater to be known as the Schenley, and to be built for Harry Davis and John P. Harris, well known amusement men of Pittsburgh. It will be erected near the opening of Schenley Park.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

Additional information about the Schenley Theatre from the January 5, 1914, issue of American Stone Trade: “Ground was broken this week for the new Schenley Theater to be built by Harry Davis and John P. Harris in Forbes street, opposite the Hotel Schenley, from plans by the H. E. Kennedy Company of this city and approved by Architect Henry Hornbostle. The theater in many respects will be one of the most artistic in this city.”

This, coupled with the information from Denis McNamara about Edward Schulte (see my previous comment) leads me to question the attribution of the design of the Liberty Theatre to Henry Hornbostle. I’ll comment further on the Liberty page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 5:27 am

The Arcadia Press book Oakland, by Walter C. Kidney, attributes the design of the facade of the Schenley Theatre to Henry Hornbostel. As Hornbostel did design (or collaborate on) other buildings in the Schenley Park neighborhood, it’s possible that he did collaborate on the theater project as well.

The April 8, 1915, issue of Engineering News has an article with structural drawings of the Schenley Theatre and a description of its construction. The article also says that the Davis Theatre in Pittsburgh, then under construction, had been designed by the same architects and engineers.

rivest266 on September 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

This opened on August 29th, 1924. Grand opening ad in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The 1924 ad must have been for the reopening of the Schenley as a movie house under new management. An item in the June 28, 1958, issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the theater “…was acquired in 1924 by the forerunners of the present Stanley-Warner Corporation.”

RSM3853 on January 13, 2015 at 4:06 pm

The Strand Theater in Oakland closed during the week of June 28, 1978. The last movies there were “The Great Smokey Roadblock” and “Dixie Dynamite”.

DRIVEIN101 on April 18, 2018 at 10:12 am

Final day of operation at the Schenley was June 30, 1958 with “Long, Hot Summer” and “The Sheepman”

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