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Renovated Newtown Theatre hosts public open house


The historic Newtown Theatre has been closed since August for a major internal renovation; from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, the public is invited to a free open house to see the results.
The phase 1 renovation included installation of a new hardwood floor, new vintage-style seats on the first floor, plaster repair, a new coat of paint, the addition of a fully accessible toilet room on the first floor, a wheelchair lift, a rebuilt front porch, new acoustic tiles in the auditorium, and the addition of a sprinkler system for fire protection. In the coming years, additional renovation phases will address the basement restrooms and the balcony.
Since the theater has largely been untouched for more than 50 years, this renovation was needed so that the facility could meet today’s standards of comfort, convenience, and accessibility. Renovation work was completed by Newtown’s own Mershon Builders.
Located at 120 N. State St. in Newtown Borough, the historic theater has an extensive history dating back to 1831. Originally built as a hall for town gatherings and a nonsectarian church for traveling ministers, it soon became the center of entertainment in Newtown.
By the early 1850s, Newtown Hall (as it was then called) was used regularly for performances. Throughout the 1850s, the building hosted anti-slavery meetings, which included sermons by Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass.

In 1883, the building was reconstructed, larger than the first, and is the building that now stands.
In 1906 the theater showed its first movie (footage from the San Francisco earthquake), making it the nation’s oldest continuously operating movie theater.
Rescued in 1953 by the Newtown Community Welfare Council, which now serves as the theater’s trustee, the landmark is now home to concerts, comedy shows, live theatre, movies and more.
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