The Newtown Borough that Marie Hutchinson remembers from her youth is, not surprisingly, a remarkably different place from the one that exists today.
But the movie theater she lived three doors down from is not.
Some of Marie’s happiest memories of the Newtown Theatre come from the several years during which her father ran the projector. Earl Hutchinson would become a prominent builder in the area, but early on, he worked at the theatre as a side job.
“The theatre’s pretty much the same as I remember it from then,” Marie says. “The sound system improved and there’s air conditioning now. Back then, they’d open the side door in the summer and turn on a couple of big fans. But otherwise, it looks and feels very similar to the Newtown Theatre I grew up going to.”
While their father was working, Marie and her four sisters were usually nearby during the Saturday matinees, watching from their favorite spot: the first couple of rows in the balcony. “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this,” says Jane Fitzpatrick, one of Marie’s older sisters, “but sometimes we sneaked a couple friends through the side door.”
Their mother frequented the balcony during those years, too, Jane recalls. She usually sat in the back; it was a quiet, discreet place for her to nurse outside of their home. “I guess she just wanted to go to the movies,” Jane says.
Marie, who’s lived in Newtown Borough for much of her life, may not be able to remember most of the films she’s seen at the theatre through the years, but one stands out clearly to her: the rerelease of Gone with the Wind. Jane believes they saw it sometime during the early fifties.
“The theatre was really the heart of the town while I was growing up. There just wasn’t that much else around,” Marie says.
Case in point: Jane’s high school graduation ceremony was held there in 1946. Hers was the last class to graduate from Newtown High School. The graduates—25 strong—sat up on the stage, their friends and family filling the seats.
All these years later, most of the Hutchinson sisters haven’t travelled far. Marie’s lived in the same brick home on Centre Avenue for the better part of the last four decades. Jane lives a block up from her, on Congress Street, and another, Ann Hendricks, lives on Jefferson Street. A third sister, Ginny Carver, lives just outside of the borough. And their eldest sister lives in a nursing home in Chester County.
Their brother, Brud Hutchinson, a prominent area builder in his own right, died about 10 years ago. His son, Michael, and his family reside in Marie and Jane’s childhood home now.
It’s been a while since either Marie or Jane has seen a film at the Newtown Theatre, but Marie recently had a subscription to the Newtown Arts Company, which brought her back to the theatre on a few occasions. She took her grandson to see To Kill a Mockingbird and her granddaughter to see Beauty and the Beast.
Somewhere along the way, she won a gift basket, which included even more tickets. She gave them to her son because, she says, it was important to her that he and his family experience the theatre at Christmas. It likely wasn’t too different from how he remembers it as a child, or even how Marie does from when she was a child.