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The Lyric Theatre, 808-810 Penn Street, Reading, PA

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In 1910, Theodore Auman, J. George Kuersten, J. George Rick and Frank D. Hill built the "Lyric" theatre at 808-810 Penn Street. The theatre, seating 950, opened October 3, 1910, with a vaudeville policy, but after two years it presented a combination of vaudeville and pictures. Frank D. Hill was the resident manager and contributed personally to the programs. On July 4, 1914, the "Lyric" dedicated the Mammoth Moller Pipe Organ, the first instrument of its kind to be used in this city. O. H. Unger was the first organist. He was soon to be followed by the blind organist, C. Walter Wallace, who remained for several years. Margaret Gibney, Daisy Simon and Robert C. Henke were all featured at the console. Harry Harrison and Harry Menges were ticket-takers. Steps ran the entire width of the building raising the box office about six feet above the sidewalk.

  • lyrictheatre2.jpg
    The 950-seat Lyric Theatre at 808-810 Penn.Above the entrance is a sign calling attention to the Mammoth Moller Pipe Organ, the first instrument of its kind in the county - a true theatre organ.
  • lyrictheatre1.jpg
    The 950-seat Lyric Theatre at 808-810 Penn.

The first orchestra at the "Lyric" included Harold Bechtel, leader, Elmer Addis, William Drexel, John Shunk and Clarence Newmoyer. Charles Miller, Clarence Barr and Robert Wenger made up the stage crew, and Winfield Steele was chief projectionist. LeRoy Talbot began here as an usher, then sold tickets, and finally was advanced to the projection booth. During the early days, Frank Hill and Master Anthony sang the songs.

There were musical features by Robert C. Henke, organist; William Lyssington, violinist; the Harold Dorwin trio; and at various times Paul Esterly, Earl Tobias, Theodore Aurand and Dorothy Lewis officiated at the organ. On January 1, 1922, the "Lyric" was joined to the Carr & Schad circuit and the vaudeville policy was again introduced. Frank Harms was leader of the orchestra; Lloyd Filbey, Harry Baird, Minnie Keller and Marie Kortenhorn were organists; and Frank Porter was in charge of the stage. A number of screen celebrities made personal appearances at the "Lyric" in 1923, including Martha Mansfield and Margery Wilson. In 1924, Pauline Garon appeared with a group of Readingites in a local moving picture production, staged and directed by John Roberts. On October 8, 1925, soon after the theatre had closed for the night, a raging fire totally destroyed the entire building, and it was never rebuilt.

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