Harris Theatre

635 Walnut Street,
McKeesport, PA 15131

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Harris Amusement Co., Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Henry J. Lohman

Styles: Neo-Classical

Previous Names: White's New Theatre, White's Hippodrome Theatre, Harris Hippodrome Theatre

Nearby Theaters

White's New Theatre...McKeesport Pennsylvania

White’s New Theatre was opened in 1908. It was renamed Harris Theatre in 1920. By 1941, it had been taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was listed as (Closed). It was demolished in the late-1940’s.

Contributed by Billy Holcomb / Don Lewis / Billy Smith

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

The theatre appears to be demolished but the building next door at 1005 Walnut Street is home to something called the Theatre Bar. View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 2, 2011 at 5:40 am

The book McKeesport, by the McKeesport Heritage Center Volunteers, has an interior photo of a Whites Opera House, but gives its location as the corner of 5th and Walnut. The book doesn’t mention White’s New Theatre, but says that the Opera House was built in 1883, became the Gayety Theatre by 1907, and closed as the Orpheum in 1922. The building was replaced by a department store in 1941.

However, a book called Vaudeville Old and New lists both a White’s Opera House and a White’s Hippodrome Theatre as having been part of the B.F. Keith circuit in McKeesport, though it doesn’t give their years of operation. Confusingly, it also lists a Harris' Hippodrome Theatre in McKeesport, and that might have been the same house under different ownership at a later time. As the Opera House became the Gayety then the Orpheum, perhaps White’s New Theatre became the Hippodrome?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 2, 2011 at 5:59 am

Both White’s New Theatre and White’s Gayety Theatre are listed (page 691) in Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide, edition of 1908-1909. White’s New Theatre was a very large ground floor house, with 1,898 seats and a capacious stage. The Gayety was a second floor house with 1,200 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2013 at 12:02 am

McKeesport, by Michelle Tryon Wardle-Eggers and John W. Barna (Google Books preview) says that White’s New Theatre opened in 1908, and was designed by local architect Henry J. Lohman. It was primarily a legitimate house until sold to J. P. Harris in 1920, at which time it was renamed the Harris Theatre. It was demolished in the late 1940s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

There is a late photo of the Harris Theatre just below the map on this web page. The caption says the building was partly demolished in 1943, but the remaining part of the structure was incorporated into a building that is still standing, housing Pozutto & Sons Plumbing.

The caption also calls the house the Hippodrome Theatre, though the name Harris is on the vertical sign. I’ve come across references to a White’s Hippodrome Theatre and Harris Hippodrome Theatre in McKeesport, so the sequence of names should probably be White’s New Theatre, White’s Hippodrome Theatre, Harris Hippodrome Theatre, and finally Harris Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I believe we have the wrong address for this theater. Pozzuto & Sons (I misspelled it as Pozutto in my previous comment), on the site of the Harris Theatre, is located at 635 Walnut Street. I’ve also found historic reference to the Hippodrome Theatre being on Walnut Street near 7th Street.

James_Slick on May 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I Think that White’s OPERA HOUSE, and Whites NEW THEATRE are two different buildings. If I remember my McKeesport lore, I think the older of the two (Whites Opera House) was demolished to make room for Cox’s Department Store (a building that is also now gone!)

Becca on July 28, 2014 at 6:50 am

There were two Hippodrome’s in Mckeesport. The one on 7th & Walnut was being demolished in the late 30’s. A lady on the McKeesport Past Facebook page posted a 1939 news article of her mother’s brother accident at the theater’s demo site.

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