New Castle News

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May 23, 2013

Movie Memories, Part 4: Penn Theater remembered for opulence, Leo Mickey’s weekend kiddie shows

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — OTHER MEMORABLE THEATERS

Here are some other former local theaters that people alive today may remember visiting:

•The Regent – Opened as the Park around the turn of the 20th century just off The Diamond, in the building adjacent to the one that now houses Subway. Originally a nickelodeon, it was remodeled around 1920 and rechristened the Regent. Jack Oberleitner called it “a simple yet comfortable theater … home to first-run B movies and double features from the likes of such studios as Monogram, Astor and Republic. It was ‘the’ place for serials, action and western films. Every John Wayne movie made showed their originally.’ The Regent, according to its New Castle News ad of Jan. 7, 1929, unveiled that night the first “talkie” ever shown in New Castle. The theater reported closed in 1955.

•The Crescent –The theater at the corner of Liberty Street and Madison Avenue in Mahoningtown opened in 1915, according to cinematreasures.com. Following a spring 1940 fire, it was remodeled and given a streamlined, modern-style makeover. Oberleitner calls it “a pretty little theater;  a real gem. Décor-wise, it was nicer than a lot of the other theaters in town. A classic feature was the illuminated glass block wall that separated the auditorium from the tiny lobby.” The last film at the Crescent was shown in 1959, although the New Castle Playhouse used it for a time in the 1960s. It was razed in 1975.

•Super Castle and Skyline drive-ins – The Super Castle, with a reported capacity for 800 cars, was located about where Walmart is now in Union Township. Its screen was built to resemble a castle wall. It closed in the late 1970s. The smaller Skyline (400 cars) was located not much more than a stone’s throw west, just off 224 behind the Parkstown Restaurant and Motel. Richard Kalata recalled that when the Skyline opened, “in-car speakers had not arrived. As a result, they had giant speakers located around the lot … did the job, but drove the neighbors nuts.”

Oberleitner noted that “the screen tower was on a direct sight line with the New Castle Airport a couple miles away.” The revolving searchlight at the airport “was a challenge while watching the movies — if you were actually watching the movies,” he said.

Kalata noted that both drive-ins would have “dusk to dawn” shows that often went past sunrise before the final feature had ended. One Super Castle ad for such a show promised four features and three cartoons, followed by free coffee and doughnuts.

 

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