County Theater

20 E. State Street,
Doylestown, PA 18901

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50sSNIPES on November 17, 2019 at 7:46 am

It’s Originally Called “County Theatre” Until Its Renamed County Theater In An Unknown Year.

DavidZornig on April 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Design contest.

HowardBHaas on December 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm

To expand with 3rd auditorium & more lobby space-

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on June 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm

This theatre was in the 1970’s and early 1980’s part of the Budco Theatres chain

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings says that the Strand Theatre in Doylestown was built in 1921. At least one other source makes the same claim, but other sources say it was built in 1925.

I have found the Strand Theatre mentioned as early as 1921, but The Gleaner, an annual publication of the National Farm School, located near Doylestown, has courtesy advertisements from a Doylestown house called the New Strand Theatre in its 1925, 1926, and 1927 editions. By 1928, the ads are simply from the Strand Theatre. My guess would be that there was an earlier Strand Theatre, perhaps opened in 1921, that was replaced by the New Strand Theatre in 1925.

HowardBHaas on July 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks, The County Theater, which shows first-run, art, independent, and foreign films, is “ahead of the curve” for small theaters, Toner said. Its 4,100 members and other supporters responded to a Digital Cinema Challenge by surpassing the $200,000 goal for a minimal conversion.

The additional $110,000 paid for a full conversion, including 3D in one auditorium, projectors with capacity for 4,000 lines of resolution (2,000 lines is the current standard), new screens, and other equipment. Rick. From that article, here are the details:

RickB on July 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

The County has completed its digital conversion. Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

str8bourbon on June 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

Here is a current video tour of the County theater from their blog.

HowardBHaas on October 30, 2010 at 8:15 am

Featured on Huffington Post list of 10 beautiful movie theaters in US,

HowardBHaas on December 8, 2009 at 5:46 pm
Go to page 39 for article and photos of the County Theatre in Dolyestown, PA

raymondgordonsears on December 31, 2007 at 5:25 am

History of the County Theater
1907 22 S Main St. Hellyer’s movie house
1909 The theater moves across the street 1 S. Main Lenape building
1925 First actual movie theater is built at its current location
and called the Strand
1937 The Strand is sold Goldman & Associates
1938 The Strand is torn down for the new, modernized County theater.
Grand opening Sept. 3rd, 1938 “Little Miss Broadway” The new
The new theater is owned by Kahn who buys out Goldman.
1940 Nov. 18th, 1940 capacity crowds attend first Sunday movies.
1950 Theater is leased to C. Schlanger and Budco Theater Chain. from
1970 Theater runs for a time as a dollar theater.
1980 Kahn’s widow seels to local businessman J. Rudolph. The back
third is converted into apartments. The theater is divided into
two smaller aud. Hard times fall on the County. Two different
indenpents try to run the theater. It closed in 1992.
1992 Closely Watched Films (Non-ptofit) saves the theater
1993 Theater re-opens on Feb.3, 1993
1997 The non-profit buys the theater on April 1, 1997
1998 New Neon tower
1999 Marquee is removed, restored aand re-installed in May 2000

HowardBHaas on August 25, 2007 at 2:56 pm

The June 1999 Philadelphia Magazine rated the County a very high “4” on a 1 to 5 scale, with comment “Bucks County’s answer to the Ritz. Best Bucks art-house choice.” Highest possible ratings were achieved in the categories of Cleanliness and Service, and very high rating for Seating. For movie Selection, whereas Ritz and Roxy theaters in Philadelphia were specified as “Art-house and indie” the County was stated as “Highbrow fare”

I will add that the movie selection is always top of the line arthouse.

kencmcintyre on January 20, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Here is a lawsuit between William Goldman and Ruth Kahn in 1941. The theater isn’t mentioned by name, but given that the sale was in 1938, it may have been the County. I don’t know if Goldman had any other theaters in Doylestown at that time:

kencmcintyre on December 28, 2006 at 4:42 pm

Here are excerpts from an article in the Doylestown Intelligencer dated 3/2/97. I can’t reproduce the pictures here. There’s no right answer if the building was destroyed and rebuilt, obviously.

Film buffs still flock to County Theater

In 1928, the Strand opened its door to entertain area residents with silent films. A fire damaged the Strand, and it was remodeled and reopened as the County Theater, shown here in 1938 (Photos)

I remember that the late Doylestown Mayor Daniel D. Atkinson used to tell me that the first movies in Doylestown were shown early in the 1900s in a room in a pool or billiard parlor in a building on South Main Street where the County Linen Center now stands. Edward V. Hellyer snowed the first movies in Doylestown. The admission was a nickel.

Researching in the Bucks County Historical Society Mercer Museum Library, I learned that the Strand Theater (I prefer Strand to County) was opened in January 1925. Before the Strand, the movies were shown in a large auditorium on the second floor in Lenape Hall, the more than a century old brick building at State and Main streets. I can remember when the Strand had two stores, a gift shop and the Palace of Sweets off the entrance lobby. The Strand had two apartments on its second floor front. Doylestown Theater
Guild used to present its plays in the Strand until the talkies emerged in 1927. Because of its sensitive sound projection equipment backstage, the live performers moved to a high school auditorium stage. (A fire damaged the Strand and it was remodeled and reopened as the County Theater.)

Bucks County President Judge Hiram H Keller spoke at the opening of the County Theater in September of 1938. The County Theater was modernized and improved at a cost of $75,000. The seating capacity was increased to 700 persons. The first names on the marquee were Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy in “Test Pilot”. Doylestown got its first Sunday movies Nov. 17, 1940. Only the Catholic and Episcopal churches did not formally campaign against Sunday movies.

kencmcintyre on December 26, 2006 at 3:55 pm

The County opened as the Strand in 1925. After a fire, the theater re-opened as the County in September 1938.

kencmcintyre on December 16, 2006 at 6:31 am

The marquee was replaced in 2000:

County Theater replaces marquee

The County Theater’s marquee, which has displayed movie titles since the days of “Gone with the Wind,” is ready for another century of celluloid. A new facade, consisting of a three-sided aluminum light box with plexiglass front panels, was attached Tuesday to a frame
extending above the entrance of the East State Street movie house
The marquee replacement completes the $89,500 restoration of the Art Deco exterior of the 1938 theater, said John Toner, executive
director of Closely Watched Films, a local nonprofit group that owns
the building and operates the independent theater.

“The exterior is an extraordinary example of a small-town Art Deco theater,” Toner said. “Doylestown is real lucky to still have its theater”. Closely Watched Films bought the building in 1997 for $325,000 and spent another $500,000 to overhaul the theater from top to bottom. Restoration of the facade was a separate project, funded in part by a $42,900 Keystone Historic Preservation Grant, a $15,000 grant from the Grundy Foundation and two $1,500 grants from the Doylestown Revitalization Board, according to Toner. The theater raised the rest of the $89,500 from its supporters.

The 18-foot-high tower, which spells out “County” in yellow neon letters on a blue background, was replaced in 1998 at a cost of $36,000. Toner said both the original tower and marquee facade were too deteriorated to restore, but the replicas are identical. Some original stainless steel strips were reused. “The marquee itself will look exactly the same as it did when it came down,” he said.

The marquee restoration, which cost $53,500, also included replacing rotten wood in the frame, reinforcing the roof and the underside of the marquee, and putting in new wiring. Bartush Signs of Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, the same company that remade the letter tower, also rebuilt the marquee panels. Each of the three sides consists of an aluminum box with fluorescent lights that illuminate a plexiglass sheet on which movable letters spell out movie titles.

The restored marquee has blue neon lights along the outer edge and red neon lights on the underside. Neon lighting was part of the original marquee but had not worked for years. Jim Sanders, director of development for the theater, said workers will finish wiring and
installing the marquee by Friday. To accommodate the work, the theater will not show matinees today and Friday.

HowardBHaas on November 22, 2006 at 5:03 am

Best Concessions
Doylestown’s County Theater boasts a handsomely produced calendar but screens the size of postage stamps. Its excellently stocked concession stand would be even better if not for the slightly indifferent staff who simply shuffle though their duties when not under the manager’s watchful eye.

from Philadelphia Weekly today:
View link

pritcharddesign on July 7, 2006 at 5:40 pm

In the 80s, before the renovation, the County had midnight shows of Rocky Horror. People dressed as the characters would be on the stage acting along with the movie.

They just sold a bunch of their old movie posters.

teecee on September 28, 2005 at 2:04 am

Thanks for the great photos. I have visited this theater many times and just never got around to taking some photos. PS The lobby is pretty nice but the auditoriums are small and not ornate.

teecee on February 10, 2005 at 11:25 am

You can buy a print of the theater at this link:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 15, 2004 at 10:23 am

The County Theater opened in 1939 and the architects were Silverman and Levy.

The Film Daily Yearbook 1941 gives a seating capacity of 700 (682 in the 1950 edition).

sears on January 17, 2004 at 1:11 pm

After AMC pulled out and closed the theatre it sat dark for awhile.
It re opened for a short time but closed again. The two aud. were shortened to build apts. where the stage and screen were located. The theatre is now run by a non profit group which also operates the Ambler theatre in Ambler, Pa. At one time both theatres were operated by Budco theaters.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on August 28, 2002 at 8:26 pm

The County was owned by The William Goldman Theatre Co., and then later by Budco Theatre Co. and American Multi-Cinema Inc. (AMC Theatres). It was twinned by Budco Theatres (Who also owned The Doylestown Barn/AMC Barn 5 Theatre). For more info, go to: