DALLAS TWP. — Kathy Barlow remembers the Himmler Theater in its heyday, and she is heartbroken it will be demolished starting next week.
The red-brick theater at 48 Lake St. has been shuttered for nearly five decades. Next Thursday, it will be reduced to rubble along with properties located at 24, 30 and 32 Lake St.
Misericordia University owns the four sites, according to Mark Van Etten, the school’s vice president of finance and administration.
Plans for the soon-to-be empty lots include “a pocket park with matching downtown pathway lighting, sidewalks, (and) green spaces”; a parking area, which extends behind the Old House Café at 34 Lake St.; and the Misericordia University-owned Arts Studio at 50 Lake St.
Demolition and cleanup is expected to take up to 10 days.
“I am really upset that they are going to tear it down,” Barlow said. “Maybe it is too far gone to be saved. I was hoping they could do something like the Dietrich Theater (in Tunkhannock).”
Van Etten unlocked the red wooden doors Tuesday, revealing a deteriorated tin ceiling. All asbestos materials have been removed, and flooring in the lobby and concession areas was stripped down to the sub-floor.
The theater itself is just a shell. The entire floor is gone, and seats and theater-screen draperies were removed many years ago.
Vandals have gotten into one area of the building and spray-painted walls with messages such as “Welcome to Paradise.”
There are still some small areas that reflect the structure’s former grandeur. The seafoam green wallpaper is intact in the theater’s lobby, and burgundy walls are still visible in the theater.
Get a brick
Barlow, 81, remembers the theater’s beautiful marquis.
The Himmler had drapes that pulled back to reveal the big screen, the Dallas native said.
“It made you feel you were big time,” she recalled. “It was always well-kept and clean.”
Barlow said there was one row of four seats on the left side of the theater that her parents, Joseph and Mary Lavelle, used to tell her were installed just for their family.
“I know it really wasn’t,” she said. “But we always tried to get that one row.”
Barlow remembers walking to the theater with her mother during World War II to watch newsreels on the progress of Allied troops.
“There was a cartoon, then the newsreels (many homes did not have television sets) and then the feature,” she said. “There was one clip my mother really thought she saw my dad unloading guns. He served in the Navy in World War II. She saw it two times before she was sure it was him.”
The Himmler Theater was built in the late 1920s and originally owned by Wesley Himmler. It was closed in the 1960s and, at one point, was used as a storage facility for the neighboring Richardson Dodge dealership, Van Etten said.
The Himmler was one of two theaters that served the Back Mountain area. Barlow said there was once another theater located on Main Street in Shavertown, where the Harold C. Snowdon Funeral Home currently stands.
Misericordia University will make a limited number of bricks from the Himmler available to the public for free. Call 570-674-6355 to reserve a brick.