Monroe connects with videos and movies

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse
It’s been a long, snowy winter. Good thing the Mansion has many nooks and crannies where mice like me can warmly snuggle! I think back fondly on warm weather and all the outside activities at Olde Time Fun last September. It will be here again before you know it!

In the meantime, I hope you know about the videos that the Education Committee made last year thanks to an Northampton Community College-National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The videos were created by Karen Tetor and some of friends who participated in Olde Time Fun.

You can see them on the MCHA website — click on “For Teachers” and then “Agriculture.” Watching them will transport you back to the warm weather as you learn about herbs, beekeeping, fibers, and dulcimers!

After sneaking upstairs to the office in the Mansion to see the videos on Brianne’s computer, I got to wondering about moving pictures and the theaters that showed them in Monroe County.

When Jacob Stroud and his family were alive, the only way to get likenesses was to have someone draw or paint a picture. You can see portraits of some of the Stroud family and friends in the Mansion.

By the 1850s, cameras had been invented, but the process to print a photograph was very complicated. You had to stay still a LONG time to have your picture taken. The stereopticon in the Victorian parlor uses two still pictures put together to show a “3-D” image, but there was no way to show any movement.

I did some research and found that going to “the movies” didn’t start until the late 1800s-early 1900s. There have been many theaters in the Stroudsburg area, with such names as The Nickelet, Playhouse, Bijou, Stroud, Lyric, Plaza, and Dreamland! Some historic theaters still operate today: The Pocono Community Cinema (it was first called The Academy of Music and then the Grand Opera House), the Sherman Theater, and Casino Theatre.

Mouse family lore says the best snacks could be found at the Stroud Theater — Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist anymore. It was proposed in 1911 by the Stroudsburg Industrial Club (later the Chamber of Commerce) to be “An Opera House for the Borough” with a 1,000-seat theater, clubrooms, reading, card and billiard rooms, and gymnasium. The completed structure at the corner of 6th Street and Quaker Alley cost $35,000 and didn’t have all the extra rooms first planned. The Stroud hosted plays, vaudeville shows and movies. Admission to see “moving pictures” was just 5 cents when it opened! Until 1929, when the Stroud became the first theater in the area to show “all talking” movies, a piano player or other musicians accompanied the silent shows.

Unfortunately, 1938 brought a sad fate to the Stroud — a fire. The owner was not able to rebuild since recent improvements he had made were not covered by insurance.
Concession stands were not originally allowed in movie theaters because the owners didn’t want the distraction or mess of food. Then, during the Great Depression, owners added concession stands to help raise revenues. In the 1930s, snacks became an important part of attending a movie. Sugar rationing in World WarII boosted the popularity of popcorn and selling it became an easy way to make a bigger profit. Mice love popcorn!

Most of my research and quotes came from Roy E. Pipher’s book, A History of the Movie Theatres in Monroe County, PA. It’s for sale in the Mansion gift shop, so you can look for yourself!