What's Historic About Brookville, Pennsylvania?

The Columbia Theater, Novel Entertainment in a Novel Setting

By Marlena McNutt

Brookville's first and only movie house gained a rare distinction before falling victim to the television craze in the 1960's.

When theater patrons entered the theater they found the screen to their backs. All other theaters led people into the room facing the screen. This was later recorded in "Ripley's Believe It or Not," as the only theater to enter in this way.

The Columbia began as the Jefferson Hotel which was the descendant of the Globe Tavern, built by Thomas Hastings in 1830. Various people managed it until 1833, when Magnus Allgier and L.L. Reitz jointly purchased it. Philip Allgier leased the property from his father, Magnus, from 1893 to 1904 when he bought it.

In that year he tore down the old building and erected the present one. He operated the hotel until 1916 and then the country went dry.

In 1920, F.J. Brown, a son-in-law of William Dickey, bought the property. He tore down the stable behind the building and built the modern movie theater on the sight. He put an entrance lobby from Main Street and store rooms on each side.

He converted the upper floors to apartments. The theater was called the Columbia Theater and the apartments were known as the Columbia apartments. The lease by the Columbia Theater entrust expired in 1961, and the theater went vacant when Harry Batastina bought the property.

In the fall of 1991 Steve McPherson bought the property and started having Christian bands come and play in the lobby of the old theater. After a few mishaps, one in 1996, when the roof blew off, and in '97 when a car drove through the front windows.

The Scarlet Cord Teen Center, "The Cord" for short, welcomes people of all ages to enjoy the bands, speaker, pool games, ping pong, or air hockey. There is also a kitchen with a small range of snacks, and a lounge area where you can watch TV or videos.

The cord is open on Monday and Saturday nights, and some specific weekends.

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