State Theatre of Boyertown to celebrate 100 years

On December 7, 1912, a new Theatre in Boyertown opened its doors for the first time in the Borough of Boyertown as The Lyric Theatre. Community members lined up to see “The Girl from the Country” and other “shorts” from that era.

One hundred years later to the day, that very same theatre, now known as the State Theatre of Boyertown, is opening its doors and welcoming the public to come celebrate and remember the theatre at their 100 Year Anniversary Open House.

David Larson, a Boyertown artist, has painted a picture of the theatre to memorialize this significant anniversary. A copy of the painting will be on display at the event, and a select number of copies will be available for purchase. Larson will be attending the event to personally sign the prints.

Any proceeds and/or donations received will go directly towards the theatre’s renovation project.

The theatre was built by the Boyertown Amusement Company, a group of four businessmen and investors, George W. Unger, Oliver W. Sabold, Newton B. Erb, and Boyertown’s fist electrician J. William Schaeffer.

Only four year prior the fire at the Rhoads Opera House took place. The Lyric was built with that tragedy in mind, carefully designed to be modern and safe.

The theatre ran silent black and white films until sound equipment was installed in 1930.

Four years later, The Lyric was renamed the State Theatre when George Kline purchased it. Kline reportedly put thousands of dollars into remodeling and renovating the theatre. In the late 1930’s, the arrival of the television stifled theatre attendance nationwide. To combat this competition, Kline began booking live performances.

The ownership of the theater continued the change hands several times throughout the decades, with renovations and updates taking place each time.

In 2006, artist Robert Williams and a group of Boyertown Area students transformed the northern side of the theatre’s exterior into a 20’ x 40’ mural depicting scenes of Boyertown’s history. This project was funded by the Tri County Chamber of Commerce.

In late October 2008, the theater was purchased by Boyertown residents Kevin and Dawn Rhude.

The Rhudes renamed the theater the “State Theatre of Boyertown,” with a vision to transform the theatre into a “Theatre of the Arts” by offering weekly features and live entertainment such as comedy shows, band concerts and children’s specials.

In October 2009, a 12’ x 22’ stage was added to the existing stage, in order to allow the venue to be more resourceful.

The program “Save the State Theatre” has been established in recent years to create projects that allow the theater to raise funds to be specifically used towards restoration and revitalization Upon achieving the restoration, Currently, the theater’s greatest need is a new heating and air conditioning system which will cost $66,940. The current system is nearly 60-years-old.

The State Theatre will then be able to attain its ultimate goal to provide enriching cultural experiences by revitalizing a historic theatre to a performing arts venue suitable for theatre, music and motion picture presentation.

Following the 100th anniversary celebration and to coincide with the holidays, the State Theatre will be showing Miracle on 34th Street for free admission on Saturday Dec. 8 and Sunday Dec. 9.

While there is so much history embedded in that theatre already, memories continues to be made every day.