Wanted: Photos of theaters
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Attorney William Schwab of Lehighton displays some of his post cards and historical memorabilia.
When attorney William Schwab sees an old post card or photo, he gets as anxious as a kid on Christmas Eve.
That's because he's an avid collector of such items.
Sometimes his clients contribute to his collection. Often he purchases them at auctions or on Internet sites.
Since 1978, Schwab has been collected items about the area's locally history. He has accumulated about 1,000 post cards and photos, as well as other specialty items from days past.
That collection has evolved into a project which lets him share the contents with the public.
For the past seven years, he has been putting together a calendar containing historical images. That calendar is distributed in the TIMES NEWS each December.
In the first year or two, there were just random photos of the past in the calendar. Schwab then decided to apply an annual theme.
Those themes have included churches, municipal buildings, and railroad stations.
This year's calendar focuses on industry and includes, as examples, a 1910 photo of the New Jersey Zinc Company in Palmerton, a 1912 photo of the Packerton shops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Mahoning Township, a 1912 photo of Baer's Silk Mill in Lehighton, and a 1909 photo of the Navigation Building in Mauch Chunk.
His 2015 calendar will feature movie theaters.
His problem is that he doesn't have photos of all the theaters in the local area, so he is hoping to get some help on the project.
He needs photos of the former Classic Theater in Lehighton, the Palm Theater in Palmerton, the Lyric Theater in Lehighton, and theaters in Tamaqua, Summit Hill, and Nesquehoning.
Schwab explained how he came up with the theme idea.
"With talk of the Mahoning Drive-In possibly closing, I thought of looking at different movie houses in the county," he said. "I've been trying to get photos of every movie theater. Every town had one."
Lehighton had three of them: The Park Theater at Second and South Street, where a bowling alley now exists; the Lyric Theater on South First Street, which is now a vacant lot next to Gene Durigan Real Estate, and the Classic on First and Iron Street, which later became the home to the TIMES NEWS before it relocated to its present site in Mahoning Township.
He said he has a photo of the old Park Theater. He also has a picture of the former Lehighton Opera House, which preceded the Classic. The Opera House photo was provided to him by Brad Haupt of Lehighton, who has an extensive photo and card collection.
His photo from the Park Theater was taken in 1927. He said at that time the movie house seated 900 people.
The calendar has become very popular. He said every year, he gets requests for copies from out-of-state people.
Schwab has been a lawyer since 1976. He opened his own practice in Lehighton in 1978.
He started collecting historical objects in 1978 when a client gave him four post cards. He immediately began adding to them.
"Being a lawyer gives me the ability to fund my hobby," he said.
Each photo and card is scanned into his computer for future reference. He has applied an informal indexing system.
Schwab added that he has a twist planned for his 2015 calendar.
Besides including the photo of the theaters as they originally existed, he wants to add a photo of what the building or site looks like today.
If you have any theater photos that Schwab could include in his 2015 calendar project, contact him at 610-377-5200.