The Embassy Theatre in Lewistown, PA opened on Monday, October 17, 1927. Before the Embassy was built the National Theatre stood in the same location and was partially demolished in early 1927. The Embassy was designed by A. D. Hill of the Philadelphia firm H.C. Hodgens and A.D. Hill. The firm is known for its 1928 design of The Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA, which is still in use. The Embassy was lavishly decorated and referred to as “the Radio City Music Hall” of Central Pennsylvania.
Many Hollywood stars of the era appeared at the theater to promote their films, including Gene Autry, Dale Evans, Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. Attendance started to decline in the early 50’s; by the 70’s the Embassy was showing X-rated movies. (ed. note: the “X” rating of the 70’s and before is now most analogous with the current “NC-17” rating, not pornography.)
Harold Cohen — the Embassy’s owner — retired in 1980. After his retirement the Embassy was leased to two different groups, one who tried to continue showing movies and another that used it for rock concerts. Neither lasted long.
The Embassy closed permanently on November 4, 1981. It went unused for 10 years while Cohen tried to sell it. When he died in 1989, his daughters auctioned the theater for a winning bid of $50,000 to the Friends of the Embassy Theatre, a group of people from Lewistown,PA. In 2001, ten years after they purchased the theater, the Friends of the Embassy raised enough money to restore the front of the theater; two years later a new marquee was installed.