Minerva Theatre

319-323 Fifth Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Additional Info

Previous Names: New Theater

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The New Theater was a new nickelodeon-era movie house launched in an existing building on Fifth Avenue operating through the entirety of a 15-year lease. The 450-seat theater replaced a long-running music store and opened with movies for a nickel on June 23, 1911. The venue became the Minerva Theatre in August of 1911. Peter J. Demas was an early proprietor and Evelyn Granville played the piano. Samuel DeFazio, who later graduated to the Harris Theatre, elevated to manager of the Minerva for a period of time.

The Minerva Theatre upgraded from a piano to a $4,000 Wurlitzer Photoplayer in 1914 to a $12,000 Wurlitzer pipe organ in 1916 after contracting for the Paramount film contract. It closed for remodeling in 1918 as it expanded from 450 seats to 1,000 seats by extending from Fifth Avenue to Oliver Way. It relaunched with a grand reopening in August of 1918 with Catherine Calvert in “A Romance of the Underworld”.

But when movie palaces were replacing aging silent houses, the Minerva Theatre was targeted for closure at its lease expiry in 1926 by a proposed new-build Woolworth dime store and Steele Cafeteria while Rowland & Clark built a larger move theatre nearby. The project was first announced in 1925 and the Minerva Theatre appears to have closed at the end of its lease on April 30, 1926.

The building housing the Minerva Theatre was sold for $200,000 with the razing of the building beginning May 3, 1926 with the adjoining Meyran Building also razed soon thereafter. The entire Woolworth / Steele project was said to be an eye-raising $6 million.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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