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Art deco theater, borough street: Two Lehigh Valley sites join National Register of Historic Places

19th street theater.jpg
Olivia Marble
The front of 19th Street Theatre.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Lehigh Valley has two new listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 19th Street Theater, also known as Civic Theatre, has joined the National Register of Historic Places — the official list of the National Park Service, or NPS.

The venue was nominated by board members in September and got support from the city Historic Architectural Review Board to join the registry.

The theatre announced the news Monday.

In Northampton County, a roadway in Bath also has joined the registry.

Art deco, famous faces

Civic Theatre is located at 527 N. 19th St., Allentown.

Designed by architects Clarence Thalheimer and David Weitz, it opened its doors in 1928 with a screening of the silent film "The Sawdust Paradise," starring Esther Ralston, Reed Howes and Hobart Bosworth, according to its online history.

Other silent and vaudeville flicks followed until the 1950s when the cinema was modified to show 3D films.

Famous faces — and Lehigh Valley natives — who have graced its stage include Daniel Roebuck ("The Fugitive," "The Munsters"), Christine Taylor ("Zoolander," "Tropic Thunder"), Dane DeHaan ("The Amazing Spider-man 2" and "Oppenheimer") and Amanda Seyfried ("Mean Girls," "Mamma Mia!").

Projection-wise, the theater entered into a new age in 2013 when it replaced its 35mm projections with digital cinema initiatives, or DCI.

The venue holds homegrown musical productions and other events, with a goal to provide affordable theatre, music and art-house flicks to the community.
Nineteenth Street Theater history

Currently, the venue holds homegrown musical productions and other events, with a goal to provide affordable theatre, music and art-house flicks to the community.

Under Artistic Director William Sanders, the annual production of "A Christmas Carol," has drawn crowds since 1991.

In 2018, Preservation Pennsylvania awarded the theatre money for a facelift to maintain its original facade, built in Art Deco style.

A two-phase renovation project to restore the auditorium, upgrade stage settings and revamp the backstage and front-of-house amenities is also planned.

Preservation in Bath

The Bath Crossroads Historic District joined the registry on Feb. 12.

The district runs roughly 12 blocks, centered around Chestnut and Main streets, according to NPS.gov.

Burnside Plantation Blueberry Festival
Bethlehem Museums and Sites
Bethlehem Museums and Sites
Scenic 6.5-acre Burnside Plantation is a Colonial farm in the city located at 1461 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem — along Monocacy Creek.

The Northampton County town was nominated in September by the Borough of Bath Historic Preservation, a five-member board of residents who hope to promote, protect historic districts for educational, cultural, economic purposes.

The National Register of Historic Places was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

There are currently 57 sites on the registry in Lehigh County, including the Burnside Plantation in Bethlehem, the Kemmerer House in Emmaus, Old Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown and the site of Martin Tower in Bethlehem.

For more information, visit the National Parks website.