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The 1914 Tamaqua Victoria Motion Picture Theatre

  • The Victoria Theatre commanded a dominating presence when it opened on West Broad Street in Tamaqua in 1914.
    The Victoria Theatre commanded a dominating presence when it opened on West Broad Street in Tamaqua in 1914.
Published January 13. 2012 05:01PM

The Tamaqua Victoria Motion Picture Theatre began as a showcase for Vaudeville, located at the site of the former Beard's Hotel on West Broad Street, a site now hosting the Tamaqua Salvation Army.

The place advertised a seating capacity of 1,200 persons and was ornate and spectacular by any standard.

The theatre was designed by William Harold Lee and represented the pinnacle of elegance. The work of gilding and frescoing the interior was done in early 1914, and then seats were installed, a final step. The theatre opened August 1 of that year. The plans of owner L. J. Chamberlain were to feature moving pictures shows during the winter "and with vaudeville after the fore part of the summer." The best shows of music, comedy and drama were showcased at the venue. The theatre was popular even before 'talkies.'

The theatre went on to host Tamaqua High School graduations. Also, the first commencement exercises of Coaldale State Hospital Nursing School were held in the Victoria Theatre on February 10, 1917. Prominent guests attended from all sections of the state, and former Governor Martin Brumbaugh was the speaker.

The early film "Why Girls Leave Home" with Anna Q. Nillson was the featured picture at the Victoria Theatre on October 6, 1928, and that same year, The Movietone and Vitaphone (talking pictures) were used for the first time at the theatre.

'The Vic' was operated by Victoria Amusement Enterprises in 1963, then closed in the early 1970s for renovations. It reopened in the latter part of the decade but closed once again in 1979. The theatre was said to have sustained damage from a leaking roof. Sadly, the Victoria Theatre was demolished in the summer of 1983.

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