Rio Theatre

647 Schuylkill Avenue,
Reading, PA 19601

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Olivet Theatre, Schuylkill Avenue Picture House, Schuylkill Avenue Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Auditorium, Schuylkil Theatre, Reading, PA, 1913

The Olivet Theater opened November 30, 1911 near the corner of Olivet Street. The name was later changed to the Schuylkill Avenue Picture House. The Schuylkill Avenue Picture House is listed in 1925 as being operated by Carr and Schad who also operated the San Toy Theater at that time. It was renamed Schuylkill Avenue Theatre which closed in 1929.

It became a Farmers Market, and then a Gospel Tabernacle. It reopened as the Rio Theatre in 1936 which closed around 1939.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

JimmiB on July 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm

If memory serves me right, the building still was there in the mid 60’s, serving as a hardware store.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

This theater had become the Schuylkill Avenue Picture House by 1913, when the July 12 issue of The Moving Picture World published a photo of its operator, Ben H. Zerr, who had lately been elected treasurer of the Pennsylvania Exhibitors' League. He was also President of the Reading chapter of the League.

Having seen Mr. Zerr’s photo, and those of other exhibitors featured in the article, I can safely say that, had I been a patron at any of their theaters, I would not have been inclined to spit tobacco juice on the floor or put my feet on a seat. An intimidating mien must have been a prerequisite for operating a movie house in those days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The February 10, 1912, issue of The Moving Picture World published this item about the opening of the Olivet Theatre:

“Reading, Pa. — The Olivet, Reading’s newest picture theater, just completed at 647 Schuylkill Avenue, has opened. The house is very cozy, splendidly furnished, has ample exits, wide aisles, [unreadable] lighting arrangements, etc.”

dallasmovietheaters on January 27, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Ben Zerr opened this theatre on Thanksgiving Day 1911. From 1913 to 1916 it was known as the Schuylkill Avenue Picture House. Until 1929, it was known as the Schuylkill Avenue Theatre. After being a short-lived farmers market, it was known as the Gospel Tabernacle. It got a final shot at movies equipped for sound as the Rio Theatre in 1936 possibly closing in 1939.

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