NEW CASTLE —
No such trappings remain of the Cinema, the East Washington Street theater that showed its first feature in 1968, closed in the late 1980s and was razed in 2007 — 100 years after the building first opened as The Dome in the silent film era.
The theater changed several times after that, to the Paramount in the 1940s, then to the Vogue and New Vogue in the ’50s and ’60s, when it and the nearby Victor were run by the Fry family, according to New Castle native and cinema consulting firm owner Jack Oberleitner. Both theaters, Oberleitner said, were run “as 50 cent admission, double-feature, sub-runs, and both were closed in the early 1960s.”
The Vogue, though, got one last chance to shine when the Penn Theater closed in 1968.
“To maintain a first-run presence in New Castle after the well-known Penn Theater was closed, Associated Theaters of Pittsburgh bought and hastily remodeled the Vogue, once again changing simply to the Cinema,” said Oberleitner, owner of the cinema consulting firm Oberleitner & Associaties.
“They completely gutted the old Vogue Theater and did a nice job of renovating a place that was pretty run down. The Vogue had the smallest screen in the city of New Castle — only seven feet wide. When they put in the Cinema, they put in a big screen.”
The Dome also had lacked restrooms, which eventually were installed behind the screen. At the Cinema, though, patrons had to climb a flight of steps to the second floor, where the facilities were located across from the projection room.
The Cinema held its grand opening Nov. 22, 1968, with the New Castle premier of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” According to an ad that day in the New Castle News, the theater featured “foam rubber seats spaced for adequate leg room ... (the) last word in year round gas air conditioning and heating ... Rich blue and green carpeting,” which was “wall to wall” and even “under the seats” ... “inside modern box office (the Vogue’s box office had been outside the main doors)” ... and “attractive restrooms” including a “comfortable ladies lounge (with) full-length mirror and dressing table.”
(Tomorrow: The Penn Theater, New Castle’s last movie palace.)