Home to the world’s first Nickelodeon, Pittsburgh, our destination for the 2014 Conclave Theatre our is chock-full of internationally renowned venues that we can’t wait to share with you for the first time EVER.
We’ll tour the heart of the Steel City, visiting Heinz Hall, Benedum Center, The Byham Theater, The O’Reilly Theater and The Harris Theater.
Then, we’ll stroll through the unique neighborhoods of Oakland, Dormont, Carnegie, Homestead, McKees Rocks, and East Liberty.
Once we’ve introduced you to the ‘burgh, we’ll show off the beautiful highlands of Pennsylvania with stops in Zelienople, Erie, Grove City, Meadville, Vandergrift, Uniontown, Connellsville, and Scottdale. In each town we’ll spotlight an architecturally significant movie theatre, civic auditorium, vaudeville house, or Carnegie Library, which feature elegant music halls built by American industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
It’s going to be a great tour, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Each week, we’ll focus on a venue we’ll visit — today, we’re looking at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
Geyer Performing Arts Center | Scottdale, PA
111 Pittsburgh Street Scottdale, PA
ARCHITECT: Andrew Geyer
The Geyer Theater was originally designed and built by Andrew Geyer, son of Henry Geyer (owner of the Geyer Hotel) in 1900. It had a seating capacity of 375 persons. Andrew operated as THE GEYER OPERA HOUSE from 1900-1912. It took many talented individuals to keep this theater as a vital part of the Scottdale community for the past decades. In those early days of operettas and touring stars, J. Frank (Pink) Hardy was musical director. Many fine operettas were performed under the direction of Enoch A Humpries.
After a little more than a decade as turn-of-the-century opera house, on August 20, 1912 the building was sold to the recently incorporated SCOTTDALE THEATER COMPANY. The main stockholders of the SCOTTDALE THEATER COMPANY were Lee Godenson, J. Marks, F.W. Bynres, J.R. Byrnes, James Byrnes, and E.J. Buttermore. The operation of the theater remained in their control until February 2, 1926 and the building was recognized as THE SCOTTDALE THEATER.
In February 1926 the name was changed to STRAND and John Bixler was appointed manager. It was at this time that the theater’s primary function became that of a movie theater. In addition to maintaining our building at 111 Pittsburgh Street, THE SCOTTDALE THEATER COMPANY also owned and operated the Arcade Theater in town as well. Our theater was one of the first in the area to be equipped with a Vitaphone system for the new “talking pictures” of the era. But despite the purchase of 310 new seats to keep up with audience demand, the theater had fallen on hard times.
In 1936 there was a reorganization of the SCOTTDALE THEATER COMPANY and a new Board of Directors was elected which included: C.B. Pritchard, Pres.; C.L. Uber, Vice Pres.; Ernest OVerholt, Treas.; J.S. Cook, Sec.; Mr. Bixler still manager. Times were tough, however, and on August 31, 1942 the theater changed hands once again. Current manager John Bixler purchased the theater and successfully operated it until 1969, when he closed the theater and leased it out sporadically until 1971 when the lights turned off for quite some time. For over a decade our little theater sat dark and quiet, waiting to be rediscovered and brought back to life as the community theater we are today.
In April 1987 a group of citizens committed to awakening this gem of a theater formed the Scottdale Showtime, Inc., a non-profit organization, purchased the theater and began renovation. With the help of the traveling theater group ACTORS AND ARTISTS OF FAYETTE COUNTY, theater in Scottdale was reborn, and the first show to grace the newly renovated theater was Man of La Mancha, a story within a story about dreams and the importance of dreaming and stories to all of us. During the decades following that production, the dream of a thriving Scottdale theater became a reality.
In 2006 SCOTTDALE SHOWTIME INC underwent another reorganization and the theater’s board drew upon their history to call the theater THE GEYER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. Around this same time, the theater’s board began producing shows to supplement the annual schedule of the resident theatrical company, ACTORS AND ARTISTS OF FAYETTE COUNTY.
The Geyer Performing Arts Center remains the owner of the building today and continues the tradition of hosting theatrical talent as it once did in its hey-day. The Arts Center is the only cultural outlet in Scottdale Borough and a tangible link to it prosperous past. If these walls could only talk they could tell you about thousands of East Huntindon and Scottdale graduates receiving diplomas…hundreds of junior and senior class plays…many, many minstrels…operettas…debates…road shows…vaudeville acts…musicals…orators (such as William Jennings Bryan of Stoke’s Monkey Trial Fame) … and now the stories of all of our theatrical community who have made this theater their home.
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Information submitted by the Geyer Performing Arts Center for the 2014 Conclave Theatre Tour. Images © Geyer Performing Arts Center.