120 N. High Street,
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The Warner Theatre in West Chester opened on November 14, 1930 with the movie “The Life of the Party” starring Winnie Lightner and the Warner Bros. child star Davey Lee, billed as ‘The World’s Biggest Little Star’, who made a personal appearance on opening night. It was designed by the firm of Rapp & Rapp in flamboyant Art Deco style. The vertical sign and facade of the West Chester Warner was very similar in appearance to the Rapp’s Warner Theatre (now the Erie Civic Center) in Erie, which opened a year after this theater.
After its movie days ended in the 1970’s, the Warner Theatre was renovated and live entertainment was presented for a few years, until the theater closed in the very early-1980’s. The Warner Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
In June 1986, the West Chester Borough Council decided to allow the demolition of the auditorium, despite the efforts of preservationists to save the theatre, once known as the ‘showcase of Chester County’. Demolition of the auditorium took place in late-1986. The surviving part of the building has been the theatre’s facade and lobby. In December 1986, the West Chester Borough Council voted to allow the owner’s request to demolish the marquee, overruling the denial of the Board of Historic Review. The remaining front section of the former Warner Theatre building became local offices to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.
In 2011, groundbreaking was held to build a 76 room Warner Hotel, with the theatre’s lobby building to function as the hotel’s lobby. The Warner Hotel opened August 17, 2012.
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