Victoria Theatre

46 W. Independence Street,
Shamokin, PA 17872

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Additional Info

Architects: William Harold Lee

Styles: Adam, Beaux-Arts

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Victoria Theatre

Built as the flagship of the Chamberlain Amusement Company chain in 1918, the 1700-seat Victoria was an early design by prolific Pennsylvanian theater architect William H. Lee. The Beaux Arts style theater resembled more a European opera house of the late 19th century than a movie house.

The Victoria originally hosted vaudeville acts and stage shows in addition to movies before turning to movies exclusively later.

The Adam-style decor of the auditorium was simple but graceful, including a huge domed ceiling with a chandelier in the center, with smaller chandeliers encircling the dome. The large horseshoe-shaped balcony reached almost to the organ grilles flanking the narrow proscenium arch.

The exterior of the theater featured terra cotta highlights over light-colored brick. The name Victoria was inscribed on three plaques just below the cornice, on each side of the three-sided facade which faced Independence Street. In 1985, the Victoria was named to the National Register of Historic Places. After a very long career, the theater finally closed in the early 90s, and rapidly fell into disrepair.

Sadly, this small-town movie palace, along with much of the historic block it stood on, was acquired by Rite Aid in 1998 and cleared to make way for a new drugstore and its parking lot.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

TheaterBuff1 on April 16, 2006 at 7:18 pm

It’s funny you should mention Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For it appears a fabulous job was just done in restoring the Majestic Theatre there (which, incidentally, also had been designed by William Harold Lee.)

Nonetheless, I’m still concerned what gambling will do this state over all once it goes into effect. I know that in New Jersey’s case, when gambling became legal there it suddenly became like that was only true law there was. And what’s really strange right now is that a lot of places where they’re planning to introduce some of the state’s biggest casinos are not especially hurting financially. Which does make you wonder what the ultimate motive really is. For we the people of Pennsylvania never did have much of a say in the matter when it was decided whether Pennsylvania should head that direction or not. It all just sort of got shoved through one day.

TheaterBuff1 on April 18, 2006 at 8:32 pm

I’ve created a special Cinema Treasures webpage where I invite all interested parties to discuss in greater detail what they feel the likely impact that Pennsylvania’s recently legalized gambling will have on Pennsylvania’s movie theaters. I look forward to seeing your comments there, and here’s the link to the webpage:

cindyd on August 21, 2006 at 12:04 pm

I just found this site today and enjoyed reading many of the posts re: the Victoria theatre in Shamokin, PA. I was born and raised in Shamokin and saw many, many movies at “the Vicky”, as we Shamokin natives called it, before moving in 1989. I especially remember seeing “Jaws” and “Star Wars” when I was in my late teens; what a huge screen! I live in Orlando, Fl now, home of the theme parks. Always wished I could have found someone with deep pockets and a love of history to invest what it would have taken to restore the Victoria to its original glory. Unfortunately, Shamokin is too depressed of a coal town for most people to see it as a good investment. (I don’t remember the Majestic, which used to be next to the Victoria, but I do remember visiting the Capital theater when I was about 5 yrs old to see Snow White. It was across the street and about 2 ½ blocks further on Independence St., where Wendy’s is today.

kencmcintyre on September 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm

In 1967, the Victoria was operated by Magazzu Enterprises of Mt. Carmel, PA. Other Magazzu theaters at the time were the Angela in Coaldale, the Andrea in Lansford, the Victoria in Tamaqua, the Valley Drive-In in Hometown, the Natalie Drive-In in Natalie and the Victoria in Mt. Carmel.

TheaterBuff1 on September 10, 2007 at 9:04 pm

There really is an actual place called “Hometown”? Mention of it at this particular Cinema Treasures' webpage is a bit ironic, since Shamokin, PA was the hometown of William Harold Lee, ranked among the greatest of 20th century theater architects, and designer of the Victoria Theatre this page was created for, no less. And to think given that it somehow got torn down. Alas, I guess as Jesus said, “a prophet is never recognized in his home town.” For as theater architects go, W.H. Lee was a futurist is ever there was one. From what I’ve observed, he masterfully designed his theaters to readily adapt to changing and evolving cinematic trends. For instance, he made so many of them widescreen-ready before anyone was even thinking in terms of widescreen.

kencmcintyre on September 10, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Wikipedia says “Hometown is a census-designated place (CDP) in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1399 at the 2000 census.” You’ll have to read the entire entry if you need to more about these CDP towns.

markp on January 10, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I had the pleasure to visit this theatre in June 1993, when a buddy of mine from Shamokin was getting married. He was friends with the owner at that time. Jurrasic Park was playing. Went to the projection room and still had the old peerless carbon arc lamphouses burning bright behind the old simplex e-7 projectors. What a loss.

Dalado on May 16, 2008 at 9:40 pm

My photo of the Vic and Majestic in their prime.

View link

Only was in their once or twice. Now as a photographer, I would have loved to have 10 minutes with it.

moviemadness1982 on June 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Hi everyone!!!!! I am now 28 years old, I have lived in Shamokin pretty much all of my life. One of the places that I lived before was right there on 122 E. Independence St., downtown. I went to the Victoria Theater all the time when I was younger. On a Friday night, there would be people lined up for blocks from the theater, it was an amazing sight to see. They almost went as far down as where I lived, in the middle of town. Those were the days, when there were actually fun things to do around here, now everyone sits at home and plays video games or watches TV or movies. It just doesn’t have the same feel as going to a theater as classic as the Victoria Theater. It was truly a marvel to see, even as a kid, I could kind of appreciate it. I would give anything to have another theater that could have that same classic look and try to have that same classic feel. William Harold Lee, who designed the place, was a genius and a legend. If I ever become rich, I can guarantee you that the first thing I would do with my money is come back to Shamokin, Pennsylvania and try to recreate a place that could have amazing memories like the ones that I will live with for the rest of my life. Hit me up on Facebook!!!!! I am Jason Hendricks from Shamokin, Pennsylvania. My email address is Feel free to contact me if you wanna talk about theaters or whatever.

David_Schneider on April 27, 2016 at 10:37 am

My late mother, Rita Dusick, grew up in Shamokin on South 1st Street in the 1930‘s, 40‘s and 50‘s and moved away probably by 1960. She graduated from Coal Township High School in 1952. (Does anyone remember her and/or her family?: father John J. (who was a Justice of the Peace and died in 1963), mother Victoria Wysocki, sister Marian.)

I visited Shamokin for the first time in September of 2013 during what I called my “PA Trip ‘13“. … I found it moving to walk upon streets my mother inhabited before I was ever a concept.

At the Shamokin-Coal Township Heritage Museum in the American Legion Building on Independence Street next to the Public Library (210 East Independence Street), I bought a locally produced book called “Matinee Memories” about the movie theaters of Shamokin, including some that existed before the Victoria, Capitol and Majestic.

I have uploaded a photo of the cover and the inside cover in the photos section.

The author, Garth Hall, passed away in January 2016, and I got the impression the book was only available from him/the museum.

The inside cover says the project was prepared for The Northumberland County Council For The Arts & Humanities. Perhaps they have copies for sale or perusal and can be contacted by clicking here.

Maybe the Shamokin-Coal Township Public Library next to the museum has a copy or can tell you where to find one.

And there is the Northumberland County Historical Society to try if other options don’t pan out.

You could include the photo of the book when emailing these places so they know what you are asking about.

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