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The Grand Theater – Greenville PA – It’s Truly Grand!

Posted on: March 28, 2017

Located in the uppermost corner of Montgomery county (closer to Allentown than Philadelphia) the Grand Theater is a gem in the little borough of East Greenville PA, thanks to the vision of owner Ed Buchinski (and his business partner John Schortz.)

Especially when you see the before pictures of the condition it was in when they purchased it, this restoration is truly grand.

The Grand Theater East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

Built in 1924 and known for years as The Valley, in 2004 the place was a mess, to put it mildly. It had leaks in the roof, a collapsing ceiling, moldy wet walls and decrepit seats, 1960s era paneling and rotten curtains just to name a few faults.

BEFORE – ugh!

Grand Theater East Greenville PA BEFORE Renovation

Photo courtesy of the Grand Theater’s Facebook page

Ed – who had wanted to own a vintage movie house since he visited the Lansdowne Theater at age 4, saw beyond that and had the drive and vision to bring the theater back to its 1924 glory and then some.

Fast forward to today and you’d be hard pressed to believe that the “before” photos of this theater are actually of the same location!

NOW – ooh!

Grand Theater - East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

With a lot of hard work and dedication the theater gleams!

The current auditorium is graced with a pressed tin ceiling that replicates the original pattern. Historic elements on the walls were uncovered during reconstruction and replicated and refinished, and new seats (almost 350) have been installed.

The Grand Theater East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

Though constructed during the era of silent films, there never was a theater organ installed here, as the original owner was the local orchestra conductor. He had a six piece orchestra accompany films, until talkies arrived in 1929.

However now the theater has TWO organs, originally saved from other movie houses. If you’re lucky you may hear them played prior to films today, or during the Silent Film Series that runs each fall.

Grand Theater - East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

Concentrating mainly on family-friendly films, the Grand is a place where you can bring the entire clan and not break the bank! Matinees run a mere $3 (evening shows a whopping $5) and it is nothing short of heartwarming to see a family of 6 be able to enjoy a first-run movie for under $20.

Snacks at the reconstructed snackbar are just as value-priced, and you’ll positively swoon over the gorgeous 1948 Manley Popcorn popper in use (more photos of this beauty here.)

Grand Theater East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

The projection here is also state-of-the-art digital projection after the Grand bid “farewell to film” with a funeral!

Grand Theater - East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

In addition to all of the wonderful restoration and repairwork done inside the building (including creating a small balcony area out of what was once the upstairs smoking lounge) Ed’s dedication to the theater as a local landmark includes the outside as well.

Not only did he have this new marquee created  and extended to make the theater visible from the road, but he also renovated the adjacent Subway sandwich shop with 1920s-era ceiling panels and light fixtures. It is a joy to see the corporate awning removed and a newly created neon sign in its place.

The Grand Theater East Greenville PA - Retro Roadmap

As a final touch of class, Ed and his staff don jackets and ties when working the theater, much like fellow theater owner Rick Wolfe and his staff at the Roxy Theatre in Northampton PA (another Retro Roadmap fave.)

As Ed says, and Mod Betty attests “1924 never looked so good!”