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Article Archive >> Autumn Tourism

Colonial Theatre: In its early years

Colonial Theatre
In its early years

The Colonial, built for the Colonial Real Estate Company, located at 12-14 S. Potomac Street, Hagerstown, opened in 1914 and was designed by Harry E. Yessler, a Hagerstown architect. It is considered the first large movie theater built in the Hagerstown area. The nearby Maryland Theatre was designed specifically for vaudeville, though later became a movie house.
The exterior of The Colonial Theatre was designed in a fantastically ornate Beaux-Arts style, with white terra cotta columns separating sets of windows on the second and third floors of the theater, topped by a large lunette filled with symbolic sculpture. The street level has a wide, recessed entranceway painted to simulate black marble. A small, detached, rectangular ticket booth site is centered on the sidewalk. A large marquee bearing the name of the original theater projects over the sidewalk.
The interior, however, was much more subdued in its decor. Some of its original interior was replaced during a 30s remodeling.
The Colonial Theatre in Hagerstown is primarily significant for its architectural merit. The structure is representative of the Baroque style of theater architecture popular in the early 20th century when the motion picture industry was beginning to develop into a major force affecting American society. It is particularly interesting for the decorative detailing of the upper levels, especially the sculptured panel in the pediment. The theatre showed films until 1973, and is now owned by a church.
In 1978, the Colonial Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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