Dozens of Gallitzin residents young and old gathered on a brisk Saturday morning to watch the historic Victoria Theater along Jackson Street come down.
The building had been falling in pieces over the past several years, including some of the brick facade and parts of the roof. Borough officials, recognizing its potential threat to public safety, had been trying since 2002 to spur the building’s owner, Jeffrey Sprouse, to tend to the property, but with little success. In February, a Cambria County judge gave its final curtain call.
“It was about the only thing in town you could really go to,” said Gary McCloskey of Gallitzin. “I can remember it was
10 cents to get in the movie ... for a quarter, you could get a bag of popcorn – a nice-sized bag – and a Coke.
“That building is history here.”
Employees of Earthmovers Unlimited of Kylertown, Clearfield County, were working the crane arm as early as 8 a.m., slowly picking away at the decrepit frame, planks and fixtures of the nearly 100-year-old building.
Reportedly, at least one old-fashioned reel-to-reel projector was left inside – a cumbersome yet memorable piece of movie history that went down with the Victoria.
Many residents recalled those earlier days of cinema with reverence.
“They had a newsreel, a cartoon, then something like ‘The Three Stooges,’ ” said Bob Decoskey of Gallitzin. “Then your main event and, at the end, you’d have a preview of the next (film).”
“My grandmother McCaa, my mother, Rose Hertzog, and my uncle, Bob McCaa, used to play the background music in there for the silent movies,” said Eric Hertzog of Gallitzin.
“One played the organ, one played the drums and my mother played the violin.
“It is a shame to see it have gone to a waste, but it’s dangerous. ... Sooner or later, this thing was coming down.”
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.