Lehigh Theater

18 E. 4th Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18015

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Additional Info

Architects: Benjamin Rush Stevens

Previous Names: Lehigh Orpheum Theater, State Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Combined program for the Lehigh Orpheum and Lorenz Theatres

Located near Lehigh University, the Lehigh Orpheum Theater was opened prior to 1913. It was remodeled in 1918 to the plans of architect Benjamin Rush Stevens. Renamed State Theater in the 1930’s, by 1940, it was known as the Lehigh Theater. As kids, we referred to it as the ‘bug house’ for good reason. Saturday mornings, it ran weekly serials, cartoons and similar. The Lehigh Theater was closed in 1955.

Contributed by AJ

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2013 at 2:24 am

South Bethlehem, by Kenneth F. Raniere, Karen M. Samuels, and the South Bethlehem Historical Society (Google Books preview), has a photo of the Lehigh Theatre. The caption says that the house opened as the Lehigh Emporium [sic] Theatre in the early 20th century, was renamed the State Theatre in the 1930s and the Lehigh Theatre in the 1960s. The building was demolished in 1976.

I found a reference in the December 20, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World to a Bethlehem house called the Lehigh Orpheum Theatre, and it has made me wonder if Lehigh “Emporium” Theatre was not an error, perhaps from a transcribed oral history. Emporium was not typically a theater name, but Orpheum certainly was. Raniere and Samuels' book is the only place I’ve found any reference to a Lehigh Emporium Theatre, while I’ve found multiple period references to a Lehigh Orpheum Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2013 at 2:36 am

The aka should definitely be Lehigh Orpheum and not Lehigh Emporium. I found a 1915 ad for the Lehigh Orpheum and the wording, aside from the wrong name, was identical to an ad quoted in Raniere and Samuels. I’ve found a reference to a Lehigh Orpheum Company that in operation as late as 1933.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2013 at 2:50 am

An early photo of the Lehigh Orpheum Theatre can be seen on this web page.

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on May 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

A combined theater program for the Lehigh Orpheum and Lorenz Theatres in Bethlehem. They were definitely owned by the same company, as they were showing the same films this week, just on different days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2021 at 5:11 pm

The January 12, 1918 issue of Exhibitors Herald had this bit of information about the Lehigh Orpheum Theatre:

“South Bethlehem, Pa. — Plans are in preparation by B. R. Stevens for the remodeling of the Lehigh Orpheum Theater here.”
Architect Benjamin Rush Stevens practiced in Philadelphia from about 1903 to 1935.

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