Allen Theatre

36 E. Main Street,
Annville, PA 17003

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Dshif on May 29, 2017 at 10:00 am

Question back in the 70s I believe, they had this outdoor adventure man do a seminar in the Aster theater it was during the winter time because it was snowing, does anyone remember this and if so what was the man’s name ? Thanks

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 22, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Either Annville had another theater, or the Allen operted under other names than just Hippodrome and Astor. The January 13, 1928, issue of The Film Daily reported that the Blue and White Theatre at Annville had been sold by C. Mauger to William Hissner. Later that year the July 21 issue of the same publication noted that William Hissner had sold the Strand Theatre at Annville to Stanley Goodwin.

The February 24, 1925, issue of the Lebanon Daily News reported that Mr. Mauger had provided his Blue and White Theatre as a location for an annual get together of the Annville Chamber of Commerce. If Hissler’s Annville Strand was the same house as the Blue and White, which seems likely, then the new owner, Goodwin, must have restored the original name, as the Blue and White Theatre is advertised in the Lebanon paper from 1924 through 1929. I’ve found no ads for a Strand at Annville. The paper has ads for a Hippodrome (or Hip) Theatre, but they might be for a house of that name in Lebanon itself, as here was a Hippodrome in operation there as early as 1913.

The Astor Theatre in Annville had RCA Photophone equipment installed in 1931, as noted in the March 31 issue of Motion Picture Times. I haven’t found any references to the Astor earlier than 1931, and no references to the Blue and White later than 1929, so it’s quite possible they were the same house.

HowardBHaas on February 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm

If the website goes away, here’s copied, the “About the Allen” section- by Natalie Hope McDonald

After three years of total renovation, the Allen Theatre opened its doors in Annville on September 21, 1995.

Located in the heart of the downtown at 36 E. Main Street in Annville, PA 17003, about three and a half miles west of Lebanon and six miles east of Hershey, the Allen Theatre is one of the few single screen movie theatres in Central Pennsylvania specializing in first-run main line as well as art, and foreign films. And while this 322 seat theatre dates back to the early part of the century, little is actually known about the history of the theatre.

A Rich and Varied History

In the early 1900s, local deeds suggest that the theatre had been called the “Hippodrome” and later the “Astor,” which carried on well into more recent decades. It was while the theatre was named the Astor in the 1930s that the space was expanded to constitute what is now the present auditorium, with its expanded stage and seating area.

While the Astor had shown popular feature films of the period, establishing itself as a second-run movie house, the theatre later exchanged hands and resorted to reeling X-rated films by the 1970s. Eventually, the Astor closed in the mid 1980s after poor maintenance and a brief stint with religious productions under the guise of the “Trinity.”

From second-runs, to adult films, to religious entertainment, the theatre had garnered a diverse reputation which the present owner of the Allen Theatre had set out to combat. The first aspect targeted with change was the name of the theatre which had been jaded by illicit films and the installation of a club where live bands and audiences demolished the decor of the Astor.

And what may have seemed like an unreasonable extent of renovation and contrary to the advice not to embrace the effort, the theatre has since become a neon emblem of the community.

Audio Excellence

The theatre audio is Dolby Digital EX and has been installed by Clair Brothers Audio Systems, Inc. of Lititz, PA and RMS Service and Electronics Inc. of New York City —t wo of the most reputable leaders in the world of sound — ensuring an outstanding sound performance for all Allen Theatre screenings. Further, RMS in New York City also provided the theatrical sound technicians for director George Lucas’s New York City premier presentation of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Crystal Clear Projection

The Allen Theatre more recently installed a new projection system, including state of the art lenses for your viewing pleasure, with installation by Cardinal Sound and Motion Picture Systems of Beltsville Maryland, providing a bright sharp image for all Allen Theatre features.

Stylish Design

The Art Deco style suggests that the theatre has had a renaissance of taste popularized in the 1920’s and 1930’s. With total renovation complete, the Allen is essentially a new theatre on the site of an old one.

A Community Institution

With a staff of about twenty employees and a full-time projectionist, this family-operated establishment has drawn crowds from outlying regions of the community, including a four-county area. The intimate environment is a particularly important feature of the Allen Theatre, breaking away from contemporary trends toward major cineplexes that have sprung up alongside malls in the outskirts of suburbia. The Allen Theatre is instead a return to the downtown.

Not only does the Allen Theatre share its locale with small town eateries, but Annville is home to Lebanon Valley College, a liberal arts school with an enrollment of over 1,000. The theatre, as a result of its proximity to campus, has virtually become an off-shoot of campus life, mingling students with community patrons. The Allen has been host to the college’s Sundays at the Allen film series, as well as numerous other college-sponsored events.

Since its debut and formal dedication by Hollywood director Randal Kleiser (with credits including Grease and It’s My Party), the theatre and coffeehouse have become a premier venue for film and live entertainment.

This Lebanon County landmark, central to entertainment in the region, suggests that rather than tearing down the facade of years passed, character can be preserved and restored – flourishing with a new generation of patrons along the way.

Keith on September 27, 2016 at 9:28 am

Theater is for sale. 895 grand. Says owner is retiring.

athenak17 on September 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Hello, I am a Architectural Preservation student at Philadelphia University. I am working on a case study of the Allen Theater. If anyone has any information on the history or where I could find information it would be much appreciated. Thank you!

sapperssgkelley on July 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I’m in the National Guard and frequent nearby Ft Indiantown Gap often. I never miss the chance to have a sandwich and take in a movie while I’m close. I love the place. I saw “The King’s Speech” there a while back. They had a local musician playing while you waited for the movie, a short about Hershey from the 1950’s was played first and then the main attraction. Both the short and the feature were introduced by a gentleman who came up on the stage and discussed each film. I will never forget the experience!

Marcel on April 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

A beautiful theatre inside and out. Glad to see it’s still open. Went to the movies here alot when I lived in the area in the early 2000’s. Nice area too…near Hershey and lot’s of antiquing. Cant ever imagine it being an x rated theater…a very nice community.

TLSLOEWS on April 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

Cool looking theatre,wonder if they need a Manager?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

What a neat little theatre; would love to see inside pictures.Sounds like a top place to catch a flick.

muviebuf on June 17, 2009 at 11:14 am

Yes Lost Memory it is the same building with the Trinity name superimposed.

After the Astor quit showing films and closed, the theatre at some point was acquired by a group that sought to present Christian programs and religious themed films. This effort at religious fare did not last very long.

Also at some time in the era between the being Astor and the Allen the theatres was also used briefly for concerts by local rock bands. The concert thing was sporadic and also did not last very long.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on May 18, 2009 at 4:38 am

Looks the same to me… Nice looking marquee. Glad they moved the electrical service from the front of the building. Wonder who’s idea was that in the first place?

dennisczimmerman on April 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

Renewing my link. Still is THE BEST theatre in Central Pa. to see a film.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 17, 2009 at 11:56 pm

The Allen Theatre has been rescued twice. The first time was in 1968, when 19-year-old Richard Wolfe and his friend Paul Angstadt rented the vacant Astor, and after some restoration work reopened it on September 6 that year.

Within a couple of years, Wolfe and Angstadt had added the Strand Theatre at Kutztown and the Roxy Theatre at Northampton to their holdings.

They eventually sold the Astor and the Strand in order to concentrate their efforts on the restoration of the Roxy, which Wolfe still operates today. Wolfe also spent some time as director of the Theatre Historical Society of America.

kmarstel on July 10, 2006 at 8:43 am

Skip Hicks and the staff at the Allen Theatre and MJ’s Coffeehouse are a definate class act. It is the best place in Central PA to see a movie (voted so for many years running by Central PA Magazine and numerous other publications) or to meet friends for coffee and a sandwich or to take in some live music or play a game of chess. It offers free WiFi and a warm welcome from Skip and staff every time you visit. If you haven’t made the trip to Annville yet, make it a desitantion this summer!

dennisczimmerman on July 4, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Looking forward to driving to the Allen to see the new “Pirates” film! It has been a while since I made the “trek” from Lancaster to the Allen.

dennisczimmerman on January 21, 2006 at 6:48 pm

Wonder if Skip Hicks and his staff would like to start a small town theatre chain? There are a few still standing theatres in Lancaster Co. that could certainly use his expertise and perhaps become as succesful as the Allen. The State Theatre in Columbia, Pa, The Joy Theatre in Mt. Joy, Pa, and the Etown Theatre in Elizabethtown, Pa would be possibilities. And, perhaps, the Historic Board in Marietta, Pa is looking for someone to operate the Historic Marietta Theatre! I do not know what the condition of any of these theatres are at the present time, but from reading what he went through to bring the Allen back to life, it could not be any worse! Just food for thought!!!!!

JodarMovieFan on January 1, 2006 at 3:42 pm

The website doesn’t pictures of the interior. Any links to what it looks like now with all the improvements?

dennisczimmerman on November 28, 2005 at 4:28 pm

My wife and I recently attended a showing of “Proof” at the Allen Theatre the other Saturday night. What a class evening! No on screen advertisements. Fact is, there was a violinist playing before the showing. It was just so relaxing. And once the movie started, no one continued talking! This is what moviegoing should be like everywhere. A few Saturday nights before that, I told two women to “shut up” as they continued talking long after the film had started at our local multiplex. The look on their faces you would have thought I had asked them to stand up and dance naked in front of the screen in stead of being considerate for other patrons! I will still travel the miles to the Allen from my home if they are showing a movie we want to see! Long may the Allen prosper!

jackferry on June 20, 2005 at 11:18 am

Skip Hicks and his staff do a fantastic job here. Definitely worth driving a few extra miles to see films presented the way they should be. I have never had a bad experience at the Allen. Even bad movies are enjoyable here.

Kelly on August 15, 2004 at 7:10 am

I, too, would rather travel miles to see any movie at The Allen
Theater then see it on a screen where I live (Wernersville). I took a friend to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. During the movie the audience laughed long and loud. I took my husband to the same movie in Reading and barely a chuckle – from him or the audience. The “right” kind of movie – goers end up at The Allen Theater.
Kelly 8/15/04

dennisczimmerman on April 12, 2004 at 5:15 pm

This is a true gem in Central Penna. Have traveled there many times from Lancaster, Pa since it’s restoration. The sound system is better than any other theatre in the area. The screen is one of the largest. Would rather drive the 25 miles to see certain films – “Star Wars”, “Titanic”, “Chicago”,“The Patriot”, “Cold Mountain” Etc. – at this theatre than drive 2 miles to the local multiplex of shoebox theatres! A member of the staff, many times the owner, actually stands in front of the auditorium to welcome everyone and to kindly let them know if your enjoyment of the film is hampered in any way! This is what movie-going is all about!