New Castle News

Letters to the Editor

April 16, 2013

Date report questioned on first Warner theater

NEW CASTLE — Editor, The News:

In reference to The News article April 4 on the Warner theater, I have found in my grandmother’s old papers (Mrs. Charles F. Flannery, formerly Mary McGrath) with information that corrects the article’s 1907 date to 1903 as the date the first permanent movie theater of the Warners established in New Castle.

My find is the souvenir program New Castle Sesquecentennial 1798-1948 in its original condition with a wealth of information as to our city’s past with pictures.

On page 36 with a heading “New Castle’s First Motion Picture Theater” and under a “rare old print, Albert Warner (on the right) is shown with two unindentified (sic) friends in front of the Bijou theater.” The facts set forth underneath are as follows:

“New Castle’s first motion picture theater, established in 1903, was the Bijou. This theater marked the entrance of Warner Brothers into the motion picture industry for it was at the Bijou that Sam and Albert Warner made their first permanent theater.

“The history behind the Bijou should be part of the story of the growth and success of New Castle.

“Sam and Albert Warner operated a bicycle shop in Youngstown, O. (sic) Impressed by the first movie they saw, “The Great Train Robbery.” the brothers bought a projector and a print of the picture and toured the small towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“After six months on the road, they returned to New Castle and opened a moving picture house, on the second floor of the Knox building, facing on Mill Street. Later it was moved downstairs ...

“The hand operated projector used two reels and the picture was projected on a screen that was made of a mirror. The cost of the mirror 9 ft was $700. The theater seated 99 patrons.”

Harry A. Flannery

Valhalla Drive

New Castle

Editor’s note: The official state historical marker on Mill Street states: “Warner Brothers’ First Theater: An early milestone for the Warners’ film empire was the operation by Harry, Sam, and Albert Warner of a theater here, 1906-07.”

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