Oriental Theater

121 Hinds Street,
Rochester, PA 15074

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Oriental Theater

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The 1,500-seat Oriental Theater sat on a hilltop overlooking the Ohio River in Rochester. It opened on Labor Day weekend, September 4, 1931. It was closed April 23, 1972. In 1977, it was turned into a disco ala Studio 54, this one named ‘Infinity’.

It was demolished in August 2001, after sitting empty, except for vandals. The site remains an empty plot.

Contributed by Stephanie

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

atmos on May 4, 2013 at 1:58 am

Opened in 1930 and closed about 1973.

atmos on May 4, 2013 at 3:31 am

Just found a local newspaper which states the theatre opened on 4 September 1931.

DeAngelisApprentice on July 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I grew up in Rochester, PA and had the pleasure of seeing “The Sound Of Music” in the Oriental a few years before it closed. I became an architect and in the late 1980’s moved back to Rochester. In doing research on the Oriental (which helped inspire my choice of career), I tracked down Michael DeAngelis Architect firm in Rochester NY. I took a shot in the dark and called the office, hoping to talk to someone who once knew him and hopefully his early work. HE answered the phone. He was so sharp, and entertaining – clearly remembered every detail about the Oriental, the family that built it – plus he had some great stories. The phone call was not enough. I asked if I could visit and a few weeks later we spent the day together in his office in Rochester NY talking about the Oriental, his other theatres, his career, and the time he punched David L. Lawrence (later mayor of Pittsburgh and governor of PA) in the nose on the steps of the state capital! He told me he was a direct descendent of Michelangelo (he said he had proof from the Vatican!). He was a great story teller and self-promoter, but I believe him. He still worked, loved architecture, loved people, and loved cigars. He died at age 94 in 1999, about a year after our last correspondence. I had the honor of putting him in touch with Leonard and Ken Winograd of the family that built the Oriental in 1931 and the three reconnected and reminisced. By the way, he was 25 years old when he designed the Oriental.

Patsy on July 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm

DeAngelis Apprentice: So exciting to read your comment relating to Michael DeAngelis…..thank you for sharing your memories with us. An earlier post from another CT member talked about the many blueprints…hope to learn more about all of the man’s blueprints. His grandson, Mark has posted on CT in the past. Please email me at

GrandkidNo5 on August 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm

My grandfather, Harry Headland, was chief projectionist when the Oriental opened on Labor Day weekend, 1931. First feature-film to be shown was a romantic comedy: Merely Mary Ann, starring Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell.
Owners ran a contest for naming the theater, and the winning entry was submitted by a girl from Bridgewater.

GrandkidNo5 on August 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm

@Mike Rogers Nov. 10, 2010 comment: “The Flying Fontaines” starred Michael Callan & Rian Garrick. Garrick is a native of nearby Beaver Falls (birthname William Kaye).

mamanature66 on August 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I am very glad to have found this website. I gathered some information and I am hoping to connect with my cousin that posted here . My great grand uncle was Michael. My mother was very close to him until he died. He always wore a big cowboy hat. I remember visiting his apartment and he had basically recreated his office there. I am hoping that I will connect with my cousin to see what happen to much of the stuff because I believe it should be preserved. Thanks again

JohnZavinski on June 22, 2016 at 12:04 am


beaver county times, june 21, 2016

By Jeffrey Snedden For The Times

The Oriental Theater

Not a month goes by that I don’t receive inquiries about the old Oriental Theater in Rochester. So many people have fond memories of attending shows at the palatial theater. I recently received a fine photocopy of the dedication program, which was handed out at the grand opening on Sept. 4, 1931.

The Oriental Theater was a product of Majestic Amusement Co. and its owners, Emil Winograd, Meyer Winograd and Samuel Oklin. The theater had a seating capacity of 1,500, making it the largest in the county. It was equipped with a Western Electric sound system, at the time the best quality available.

The opening night program included a live dedication of the new theater by Rochester officials. It was followed by several acts, which were chosen to highlight the theater’s ability to handle motion pictures and live stage performances.

The premiere of “Merely Mary Anne” starring Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor led the festivities. This 74-minute film was followed by a live performance by “Al Steel’s Broadway Revue,” which featured live singing, dancing and comedy. The final performance was by renowned Stanley Theatre organist Freddie Rose, who wowed the sellout crowd on the house organ. Intermission entertainment was performed by comedian Andy Clyde and vaudeville actors Burns and Allan.

The Oriental Theater served the public for 41 years before the final movies were shown on April 23, 1972. On that date, moviegoers came to see a twin bill feature of “Cisco Pike” starring Kris Kristofferson and “See No Evil” starring Mia Farrow. Located at 121 Hinds St., the theater was gutted of its extravagant features at public auction in April 1974. Between 1977 and 1980, the first floor housed the Infinity Dance Club.

The Oriental was finally torn down in August 2001 after vagrants had wrecked any remaining historical value.

Jeffrey Snedden is a local writer, researcher and historian. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future Histories & Mysteries columns, contact Snedden at . Each week, he will choose a few new topics and update past ones with readers' notes and questions.

Patsy on June 22, 2016 at 3:46 am

John: A very nice post about a theatre that should still be with the residents of Rochester. Thanks for the memories.

docatlas on March 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm

I spent many Saturday afternoons with my friends at the Oriental. It’s a part of my life I’ll never forget. I did go to movies with my parents the Family Theater across the street, but despite the good times, the experience just wasn’t the same as at the Oriental. Even before the movies started, I got a lot of enjoyment out of just sitting there and looking at the decor.

In the late Seventies, my cousin’s family bought it and transformed it into Infinity. I did attend when I could (and the band I was in in 1981 performed there once when the regular band had to cancel), but it still lacked the je ne sais quoi of my early youth.

I still live here in Rochester (I was born here, and I’ll probably always be here), and walking around town is enjoyable, but I always feel a bit of sadness when I walk by the Oriental’s former site (and other long-gone places). But I still have my memories.

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