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CBS3 SummerFest: Newtown Home To The Oldest Continually Operating Movie Theater In United States

NEWTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- A spot rich with history in Bucks County is Newtown Theatre. It is the oldest continually operating movie theater in the United States.

The Newtown Theatre, which sits right in the middle of a residential street, doesn't look anything like a typical movie theater.

Newtown Theatre
(credit: CBS3)

It was built in 1831, long before movies ever existed.

"It was a town hall, where they had dances, a public forum where they had speeches," general manager Carol Wasielewski explained. "It turned into an entertainment where they would put on live production shows and then in 1906 the theater presented its first movie."

They've been showing films ever since, making it the oldest continually operating movie theater in the country.

"We show not only recent releases, such as we had 'Toy Story' a couple weeks ago, but we show a lot of the classics," Wasielewski said.

They show classics with Hollywood legends like Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn. They also have free movie Wednesdays, where kids can catch favorites like "The Land Before Time."

"I've never seen this movie, so I'm a little excited about it," one young boy said.

"It's a fun day out," said one woman.

"I saw that there was a free movie today so I mean, I might as well," a teen boy said. "It's fun and gives you something to do in the summer."

But free films aren't the only thing these moviegoers have come to appreciate.

"We have popcorn every time," one excited boy said.

The freshly-popped popcorn is definitely a favorite, as well as the nostalgia.

"It's going back in time," Wasielewski said.

"Newtown is a very historic town, it's fun to kinda be a part of that history and take our kids in these old buildings and let them see the architect and all the seats and how it used to be," one mother said.

David Pannepacker, who worked at the theater as a teen in the 1940s, is also glad the Newtown Theatre is still around.

"I think it's amazing it's still going strong," he said. "It's, you know, because so many things are disappearing, so it's nice to see that this one's still here."

"Everyone that walks through here has the same, has the same reaction, is this is so nice, it is such a remarkable community theater. So it's not a mega multiplex that's mass marketed, it's something that's iconic to the community," Wasielewski said.

"The Blues Brothers" are back on the big screen at the theater this Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be a free movie pass for anyone dressed as the iconic brothers.

Regular admission is $10 and $5 for members.

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