Squirrel Hill movie theater closes

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After more than seven decades, the Squirrel Hill Theater on Forward Avenue has closed. The decision will have no effect, owners say, on the nearby Manor Theater which will continue to operate.

"It is with deep regret that I am faced with the decision to close the Squirrel Hill Theater," owner Richard Stern said in a statement today. "It is no longer an economically viable operation and we can no longer sustain the losses which we have experienced over the past two years."

Mr. Stern added that the Manor remains profitable and is not in jeopardy of going dark. "It remains the premier specialized film venue in Pittsburgh. We will explore other alternatives and opportunities to fill the void in the market caused by closing the six screens at the Squirrel Hill Theater."

The theater was located at 5824 Forward Ave., just east of Murray Avenue, right off the Parkway East. It's been a neighborhood landmark for roughly 74 years and was remodeled in the mid-1990s. Parking always was scarce, however.

The Squirrel Hill Theater's future had been further jeopardized by a proposed real estate deal and the closing of Poli's around the corner also reduced foot traffic.

A Post-Gazette survey of all theaters in the region in July 2000 noted that the theater's renovation eliminated odd-shaped auditoriums that were in terrible shape and provided for a spacious, inviting lobby.

The story asked: "With the fancy new Loews Waterfront just two miles away, the Squirrel Hill may have to adapt to survive. Could there be more art films in this theater's future?"

There were, along with mainstream movies, but they couldn't keep the theater open. Mr. Stern said, "We will do our best to offer employment to longtime employees by relocating them to the Manor."

An ad in tomorrow's paper is expected to say the venue is closed and to thank people for their patronage.


Contact movie editor Barbara Vancheri at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her Mad About the Movies blog at post-gazette.com/movies .


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