Barn Theater

1110 Harrison Street,
Frenchtown, NJ 08825

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Fixxxer on April 20, 2017 at 6:46 am

Man…another blast from the past. I grew up in Frenchtown and my parents and I — like a lot of other folks in town — used to love walking up to the theater for a movie. My parents took me to my very first movie theater experience at The Barn actually; the movie was Rocky IV and, even though I was 3yrs old, I still have incredibly vivid memories of that night!

Other movies I remember seeing there: Bambi, Song of the South, Beetlejuice, The Naked Gun, and Ghostbusters II. I’ll never forget the general backlash that resulted when it was sold and threatened to be turned into a Country & Western dance hall…thank God the building still stands today though!

teecee on July 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm

A bit of quirky information from 7/11/11:

FRENCHTOWN — In 1939 when the Barn Theater was being built, well-diggers struck water that flowed voluntarily to the surface and continues flowing to this day. For the next 50 years, the excess water came out of a metal pipe where it could be drunk or jugged by anyone who wanted it before it spilled into a ditch beside upper Twelfth Street.

The water was used to air condition the theater — until it showed its last movie in 1989 (“When Harry Met Sally”). Then an entrepreneur, who was trying in vain to get borough approval to turn the empty theater into a Country & Western dance hall, set up a coin-operated apparatus near the roadside to sell the water……..

teecee on January 20, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Another old postcard:
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teecee on March 2, 2006 at 1:08 am

Listed as a Brandt Theater in the 1976 International Motion Picture Almanac.

dionis on August 30, 2005 at 11:07 am

The Barn closed in October 1989. I know cause I went to its last show. Among the last movies shown there were Parenthood, When Harry Met Sally, and The Abyss. IIRC, it was The Abyss that showed on the final weekend.

The theater would have been demolished if not for the efforts of a few. Fortunately, Frenchtown was at that moment undergoing transformation from a working-class mill town to a upscale/trendy/art & antique village. Hence there was enough of a market to turn the old theater into professional offices.

The architeture was quirky, the seats comfortable. However, the sound system was poor….if you sat up in the front to the extreme left or right you’d get an echo off the back wall.

Sorry it closed….have good memories of a couple of fumbling teenage erotic experiences in that old place.

teecee on August 17, 2005 at 2:04 am

Some of my photos from March 19, 2005:
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teecee on August 17, 2005 at 2:01 am

The Barn Theatre was open from the early 1930s through the mid 1980s. There is a nice photo (“Air Conditioned”) on page 83 of Sketches of a River Town (1997) by Ellen Fletcher.