310 E. Washington Street,
New Castle, PA 16101

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RSM3853 on February 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm

In its reincarnation as the Cinema, its grand opening was Friday, November 22, 1968. The opening feature was the New Castle premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

guapodugh on January 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Gosh I remember going to this theater in the late 80s to see a full length feature of the Care Bears. My grand parents lived up Court Street so this theater was very close by. As a seven year old, I remember the place smelling like urine and the seats being really worn and squeaky.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on April 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hi Joe, Sorry for the delay, I’ve been working on a restoration. This info. (from memory) originally came from an old projection operator who was around at the time. The Warner Bro’s. had been going around Western PA and Eastern Ohio, near their Youngstown home, with a crank projector, a single film and a tent for use when weather or a vacant room were not available. One of the rooms they rented for this special event was part of, or adjacent to a funeral home on New Castle’s E. Washington Street. They borrowed folding chairs from the funeral director and projected the film on a 7 foot mirror. Apparently the response was so good and New Castle was a bustling city with the world’s largest tin mill and many other industries that they decided to experiment with making New Castle a permanent location. The makeshift “theatre” was referred to as the Bijou (little Gem) and The Pioneer. After several months, in 1903, the moved a few doors down E. Washington Street to a more appropriate property and created the Cascade Theatre. The location later became a Neisner 5 and 10 store and is now called the Cascade Center with a lobby display representing the façade of the Cascade Theatre and some vintage projectors. The Cascade was quickly followed by small “nickelodeons” such as the sheet metal-constructed Moravia Theatre, The Nixon (Victor), across the street from the Cascade, The Dome (Cinema), Park (Regent), Star, all on Washington Street and the Baltimore Strand on Long Avenue. In 1904 the Warner’s bought a small film company in Pittsburgh which eventually evolved into the Warner empire. Later, more elaborate theatres included the Capitol (vaudeville) and Penn theatres were constructed.

It would be nice to see a working “model” of the Cascade created. It might show a Warner documentary film, classics, etc as a tourist attraction. Who know, maybe some day…..

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 8, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Jack, do you have any information about the Cascade Theatre in New Castle, which was supposed to be the first theater operated by the Warner brothers? I keep coming across different dates for the opening. picture.

Patsy on November 23, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Jack: Very well written….thank you!

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on November 23, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Yes indeed! I was 14 when I started my first job as an usher at the New Castle Victor theatre. Now at 64 I have very fond memories of conversations with projectionists, stage hands and managers in and about the Pittsburgh area. When many of us were in our teens and twenties, these dedicated people where in their fifties and sixties. Nothing was better than sharing a coffee or a beer with one of these people. Their stories of people and events from the early days of theatrical entertainment. It was a right of passage for those of us you still believed in the magic and future of “the business.”

One of my favorite pieces of advice, when I was an Assistant Manager, was from an old projectionist who lectured me in the art of showmanship. He said: …”remember kid, if you don’t want people to think this is second class grind house, ALWAYS close the curtain and bring up the footlights between the trailers and feature.”

When people remember these picture palaces, it’s a shame that the dedicated managers, projectionists and other career folks often get forgotten and unmentioned. Big chains and moneyed people may have built most of the theatres we have all loved; but it was, indeed, the staff and management that brought the magic to life every day.

Never stop believing.

JohnMessick on November 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

You betcha… one time used to be a projectionist in my area…I had the opportunity to meet him and talk about area theaters he worked at….he is a well of knowledge.

Patsy on November 23, 2007 at 4:29 pm

JohnMessick: I’m familiar with the CT name, Norelco though didn’t know or have forgotten that he used to be a projectionist….those are the folks with great theatre memories!

JohnMessick on November 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Jack..Are you familar with a guy who used to be a projectionist in the Pittsburgh area by the name of Dave Grau…he posts on here under the name Norelco?

HowardBHaas on September 23, 2007 at 6:51 am

Yes, that is sad. This theater seems to have had its 9 lives, but finally ran out.

Patsy on September 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm

To read “was demolished, with little fanfare….the building was nearly 100 years old” makes me very sad.

kencmcintyre on September 21, 2007 at 10:34 am

And another one bites the dust. Although judging by the photo posted on 10/15/06, I’m not sure if rehab was feasible.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on September 21, 2007 at 10:18 am

I’m sorry to report that this little gem of a theatre of many names (Dome in the silent era, Paramount in the 40s, Vogue in the 50’s, New Vogue in the 60’s and Cinema in the 70’s and 80’s) was demolished, with little fanfare, last month, August, 2007. The building was nearly 100 years old.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 17, 2007 at 11:38 am

The 1950 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists a Paramount Theatre at this address with a seating capacity of 335. In the earlier 1941 & 1943 editions of F.D.Y. the Paramount is listed with a seating capacity of 390.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on July 17, 2007 at 11:29 am

BTW, as mentioned in various places, New Castle PA has a strong theatre and cinema history. While there have been ongoing attempts to recognize New Castle as the home of the Warner Brothers. There IS a display of sorts marking the original location of the first Warner theatre. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “mini-cinema” at that site exhibiting free or low cost vintage pictures and a pictorial history of both the Warner Family and theatres as well as the theatrical history of New Castle? Could be a tourist stop…who knows.

Also, would anyone be interested in knowing why the theatre honoring there hometown was built in nearby Youngstown, Ohio instead of New Castle?

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on July 17, 2007 at 11:20 am

Originally, there were two theatres on Long Avenue in New Castle, The Baltimore Strand and Baltimore State. They were so named because they were built and originally operated by the Baltimore Family. The Strand was an early nickelodeon and never made the transition to “talkies.” The State; however, has survived almost 9 decades and a multitude of owners to, surprisingly, be the last operating theatre from “the good old days. The New Castle Playhouse, with which I was briefly associated in the late 50’s and early 60’s at the Crescent Theatre location, has done a wonderful job of preserving and renovating the theatre and an adjacent second auditorium for theatrical productions.

I happened to be in New Castle this past weekend and had the pleasure of seeing Man Of La Mancha at the Playhouse. Excellently staged with near flameless acting. People interested in preserving classic theatres in other communities would be well advised to look at what the New Castle Playhouse has accomplished at the site of the old State Theatre.

bobbywo on May 31, 2007 at 4:22 am

I am the Executive Director of the New Castle Playhouse in New Castle, PA. Our company is housed in the former State Theater, located on Long Ave. We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2008 and I am looking for old photos, stories, etc., about the State Theater. If you have anything, please contact me. I will be happy to share anything I have as well. Thank you.

Patsy on January 5, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Jack: Thank you for your interesting information and my hat is off to you for having renovated many old stately theatres. And I, too, would love to see a tribute to the original Warner Brothers theatre.

JackOberleitner on January 5, 2007 at 8:29 am

The closest that New Castle ever had to a “Castle” Theatre was the SUPER CASTLE Drive-In theatre in the cities western suburbs.

The W. Washington Street theatre was originally opened around the turn of the century as the DOME Theatre. A minor remodeling came about in the 1930’s renamed it the PARAMOUNT briefly. New owners renamed it again as the VOGUE. The “C” on the front of the marquee was originally a “V.” Throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s the Vogue and sister theatre. the Victor, were operated by the Fry family as fifty cent admission, double feature, sub-runs. Both houses were closed in the early 60’s.

To maintain a first-run presence in New Castle after the well known Penn Theatre was closed, Associated Theatres, of Pittsburgh bought and hastily remodeled the Vogue, once again changing simply to the CINEMA. The “C” on the marquee stands for “Cinema.”

Almost a century after its original birth as the DOME, this historic little theatre is scheduled for demolition soon.

New Castle is rich in theatre history. I have photos and histories of many of the original New Castle theatres including the Penn, Hi-Lander, Regent, Nixor/Victor, Vogue, State, Crescent, Baltimore Strand, Capitol and others. I hope to add these to the Cinema Treasures site as time permits.

As a theatre owner and historian, I have renovated many old stately theatres and would love to see a tribute to the original Warner Brothers theatre. I think the right facility could be a real cultural and perhaps tourist attraction for this once bustling city that was once my home town.
– JAck Oberleitner, Springfield, OH

Patsy on October 15, 2006 at 4:43 pm

I don’t know, but I would imagine it was named the Castle when it closed. Too bad that the City of New Castle can’t or won’t bring back this theatre as long as the effort is being made to bring back the first silent film theatre built by the Warner Bros. in that city.

Patsy on October 15, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Lost Memory: Yes, the photo is indeed the theatre I saw while visiting New Castle.

Patsy on August 25, 2005 at 4:49 pm

Correction! I did see this theatre while in New Castle as I now recall the letter “C” in the middle of the rusting marquee as we left town! I was going to take a picture, but it was just too bad to photograph with weeds growing up along the one exterior wall. It certainly looked like it hadn’t been a theatre in a very long time. And I don’t think the Zambelli name would want to put their time, effort and funds into that one now that I’ve seen it, in person! No where did I see the word “Castle” which is what the “C” must have stood for and not the word “Cinema”.

Patsy on August 25, 2005 at 4:44 pm

If anyone can provide a photo of this theatre, I’d appreciate. Thanks.

Patsy on April 29, 2005 at 8:06 am

New Castle is the home of Zambelli Fireworks so I would like to think that that major company could/would lend their financial support to the restoration of the Castle Theatre!