275 Chestnut Street,
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Academy Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Blatt Brothers Circuit
Architects: James M. Wood
Previous Names: Academy of Music
The theatre was built in 1886 and operated as an opera house under the name of the Academy of Music. It was was built by Ernest Hempstead. It hosted live stage shows up into the 1920’s when it began to share the stage with silent films. By 1914 the Academy of Music was operating as a movie theater.
The Academy Theater was operated by the Shadely family until 1966 when it was sold to Blatt Brothers Circuit. They ran the theater until they got out of the business in the early-1980’s and the movie house was bought by another chain which operated it for a few years until they closed it after a fire. Fortunately the fire did not severely damage the building, but it fell into disrepair until the early-1990’s when a local non-profit group began a restoration project.
The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and restored very close to the original features. Unfortunately at that time there was no consideration for showing films, only live productions, so there was no plans to restore the film end of the business. In 2000 I was contacted by an acquaintance and asked if I would lend my technical knowledge and help restore the projection booth to enable the organization to run films. I was more than willing.
The Academy Theater was and is one of those old theaters that holds many memories of Saturday matinees, important weekend dates with your favorite boy/girlfriend, and countless other occasions. Not the least of which is a good place to go see a good movie.
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