John P. Harris Memorial Theatre

210 Fifth Avenue,
McKeesport, PA 15132

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: John Adolph Emil Eberson

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Renaissance

Previous Names: Harris Memorial Theatre, McKee Cinemas

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News About This Theater

Memorial Theatre interior

Opened as the Harris Memorial Theatre on April 26, 1929. By the early-1940’s it had been reamed J.P. Harris Memorial Theatre and was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. It was closed in the early-1970’s. It was used by the McKeesport Symphony Orchestra from 1959 until the early-1960’s.

Contributed by Graeme McBain

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for Ad,ken mc.always great to see.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on December 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm

To all past members of the Memorial “family."
It was an honor to serve there as manager for a while in the late 60’s.

BTW, anyone out there who was a part of the Memorial family interested in a long, long, long overdue reunion, please get in touch.
Jack Oberleitner, .com

Chuck48 on March 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

I worked there as an usher in the late 50’s-early 60’s. Made $.65 an hr. Isley’s was next door and they had the best butterscotch sundays.

nonsportsnut on July 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The Three Stooges Fan Club is trying to confirm the date of a personal appearance of the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Joe DeRita), possibly with Paul Shannon, and in conjunction with the release of their feature fim “The Outlaws is Comin”, which features Shannon as one of the “outlaws”. Thanks,

Frank Reighter

TivFan on February 11, 2013 at 3:00 am

Does anybody know about the Harris State Theater? I have a McKeesport post card showing “Fifth Avenue, looking East” which is postmarked l932. The cars in the photo look earlier than 1932. The sign on the theater show 15 cents, over the Harris name. The theater is on the left side in the picture, and the Peoples Building is shown beyond this on the corner of the next block of Fifth Avenue. The Peoples Building was built in 1906 as the headquarters for the Peoples Bank and Trust Company. It still exists. This section of Fifth Avenue is not accessable on the Google street view.

TivFan on February 11, 2013 at 3:37 am

Who is J.P. Harris? There apppears to have been two other McKeesport theaters with the “Harris” name. I’ve heard of Sam Harris. On the site there is a picture of a theater with a large vertical HARRIS sign. This building looks nothing like the State or the Memorial. This building (the Hippodrome, but only the HARRIS sign identifies it) was partially demolished in 1943 for a Ford car dealership. The basement and part of the first/ground floor were retained and incorporated into the building. It is stated on the site that this building still “survives”.

TivFan on February 11, 2013 at 3:53 am

It seems the Peoples Building is at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Walnut Street, and has a Walnut Street address. In the satellite shot, it looks like a building exists where the State was located. This may not be the original structure. Anybody know? Thanks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

TivFan: John P. Harris might have been the person who coined the name Nickelodeon, which was the name of the five-cent movie house he opened with his brother-in-law, Harry Davis, at Pittsburgh in 1905. Before his death in 1926, Harris parlayed his small theatre into a substantial regional chain. There were houses called the Harris Theatre throughout western Pennsylvania. Here is a 1934 newspaper article about the Harris Amusement Company.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2013 at 12:17 am

Also, there are photos of the Harris State Theatre on page 36 of McKeesport, by Michelle Tryon Wardle-Eggers and John W. Barna (Google Books preview.) An earlier photo of the building appears on page 34. The building was originally a saloon called Altmeyers, but had been converted into a theater by 1908, when it became part of the Harris Amusement Company. It was located on 5th Avenue between Market and Walnut Streets.

dallasmovietheaters on August 3, 2022 at 6:07 pm

This venue opened as J.P. Harris Memorial Theatre on April 26, 1929. It wasn’t changed until Associated Theaters dropped the J.P Harris to simply the Memorial Theatre in the 1960s. It was then converted to a twin-screen venue called the McKees Cinemas 1 & 2. It is assumed that it went out of business on May 21, 1976 when it was damaged by a fire that destroyed two blocks of Tube City’s downtown.

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