275 Chestnut Street,
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Architects: James M. Wood
The theater 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. In the late 1920’s it was converted to a movie theater.
The Academy Theatre was operated by the Shadely family until the late 1960’s when it was sold to Blatt Brothers Theaters. 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 wich 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 nonprofit group began a restoration project.
The building was placed on the National Register of historic buildings 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 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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