Decades Later, Photos of the Theatre Resurface

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As deep cleans can, this one ended with a trip down memory lane.

Council Rock High School North technology teacher David Diehl was purging a storage area at the school when he discovered a large binder filled with photos, less like an album and more like a portfolio.

Sandwiched among the tens of shots were several images of the Newtown Theatre. The lobby. The projection room. The auditorium. The building’s signature exterior. Free of people, the stark black-and-white scenes of the historic theatre were unwilling to betray a time. They could have been taken 50 years ago just as easily as 50 minutes ago.

It turns out, they’re about 20-years-old. The portfolio belonged to Carrie Colliton, who graduated from Council Rock North in 1998. Mr. Diehl shared the portfolio with Brynn Smith, a senior at the school now, knowing she worked at the theatre. Ms. Smith, in turn, shared the photos with her father, Andrew Smith, the theatre’s general manager. And Mr. Smith managed to find and contact the photographer through her married name, Carrie Colliton Marko.

His email delivered some unexpected news, but, as Mrs. Marko described a couple days later during a phone conversation, she hadn’t forgotten about the photos.

“I shot them during my senior year,” she said. “I did take an independent-study photography course, but this project wasn’t part of that.”

The assignment, she said, was journalistic; find a subject and tell the story behind it through a mostly-photographic narrative. “I wanted to try to capture the history of the theatre, the ‘old-time’ feel of it,” Mrs. Marko said. “I always loved that about it.”

Mrs. Marko said she grew up in Newtown Borough. Her family moved to Newtown Township during her childhood, but she retained a soft spot for the theatre. “My brother took me to see Jurassic Park there. I saw The Last of the Mohicans there, too.”

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Within six months of earning that degree, “the digital age hit fast and strong, and most of the photography jobs disappeared overnight,” she said. Mrs. Marko sensed an increasing demand for graphic designers, though. So she returned to RIT and earned a master’s degree in print media.

A project-management position with a commercial printer led her to Hazleton, PA, which is where she’s lived ever since.

“I always thought I’d move back to Newtown,” Mrs. Marko said. “I don’t have family there anymore, but I do get back there on occasion.”

The Newtown she knew from the mid- to late-90s may be a different place now, but the theatre, she knows, hasn’t changed, not enough, at least, to distort her memories of it.