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The Roxy Theater Northampton PA – History and Vintage Sign Video Bonus Northampton, PA

Posted on: November 1, 2010


The Roxy theatre of Northampton PA was first opened in 1921 as the the Lyric Theatre, specializing in vaudeville and live acts. If you can tear your gaze away from the opulent sign you can still see the Lyric name carved into the stone above the entrance. (If you missed my first post on the Roxy Theatre, click here to catch yourself up!

Roxy Theatre Northampton PA 2

In 1933 it was completely renovated to reflect the popular Art Deco style of the times. during this renovation the theatre was redesigned to be more of a motion picture house, but live attractions are still presented to this day. In the 1950’s singers like Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell and Fabian appeared on the Roxy stage and in the 1970’s Billy Joel made his first headlining appearance at the Roxy.

Billy Joel Played the Roxy Theatre Northampton PA(This is from a great pair of collages in the lobby featuring photos of many of the stars that have played here, like John Belushi, Blood Sweat & Tears, Martin Mull, Gilda Radner and even Kiss!)

Regular Retro Roadmap Readers will know the standard story of the advent of TV killing off many of the beautiful theatres we so cherish now, but I’m happy to report that while the 1960’s weren’t very kind to The Roxy, it never closed its doors for good.

Current owner Richard Wolfe has been behind the wheel at the Roxy since 1970, and as my luck would have it he was the kind and dapper gentleman who directed me to the Ladies, and was able to chat for a few minutes as well as take me on a quick behind the scenes tour. Richard takes great pride in his theatre, and we all benefit from it. From the lighted marquee (burned out bulbs replaced quickly) to new carpet, new seats with drink holders (to be installed soon) to the working Wurlitzer theatre organ, this place is one anyone would be proud to show off.

Roxy Theatre Auditorium Northampton PA

After speaking with Richard I made my way to my seat in the auditorium, popcorn in hand, and watched the movie (but you all know I was really there for the theater!) As I made my way out I chatted some more with Richard, who informed me that the Roxy had made its big screen debut in the movie School Ties, which you may remember was the screen debut of Dana’s Luncheonette in Lowell MA as reported here on RetroRoadmap.

school-ties-movie-roxy-theatre-northampton-pa-retroroadmap.comThe crazy thing about the magic of movies is that the scene right after this one with the Roxy, is the scene with Dana’s in it. So while in the movie they’re just down the street from each other, those of us in the know, know they’re really states apart!

Speaking of streets, I had to cross the street to show you all what a beautiful sight the Roxy is, even when leaving for the evening. It was hard to pull my eyes away from the flashing sign in the inky darkness. And you can see Richard, dressed in his weekend attire, coming out to assist a patron and bid me farewell.

So it was with that glowing sign shining in my eyes and a thrill in my heart for discovering such a place, that I headed home in the night, glad to know that this bastion of vintage film going was just a bit over an hour away from me. Speaking of which, I’ve got to see what’s coming up on their schedule, to plan a follow-up visit!

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  • I love that he’s sporting a tux!! 🙂

    • I know, me too! He actually said he usually wears the regular usher type uniform on the weekdays, but for the weekends he puts on the tux. A Class Act for sure!

  • As the President of Theatre Historical Society of America ( I thank you for bringing the Roxy Theater to the attention of your readers! Richard Wolf has served as a past director of our organization and also has been a gracious host when our annual summer Conclave was traveled to Pennsylvania. There is no detail or courtesy too small at the Roxy. Richard and his staff are top notch professionals every time the door opens for patrons. The Roxy is easily one of the best run small theaters in America! BRAVO!!

    • Karen – thanks so much for sharing the link to my post with your readers/members. I’m so happy to learn that there are other folks like me out there who love old theatres!

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  • anne peters

    Holly. I wonder of those two were considering a bank in town on Main to rob ? I guess I’ll never know. I’m certainly not writing a letter to Appel in prison. Hope you enjoyed my stories.

    • anne peters

      two sighting near ROXY , 1970 and 1986, I believe I gave directions to Billy Joel as I crossed 329 walking home from work and also , walking to work 1986, saw Martin Appel and Stanley Hertzog walking on Main past Theatre and Laufiks. would love to know if the robbers purused Main St. that 8 a.m.,before they went out of town and committed robbery and murder. Also, if Billy Joel ever asked for Directions to the ROXY, my thoughts, EVERYONE knows where the ROXY is, he must not be from around here. Also, at the time of seeing Appel, no one puruses Main st when stores and theatre closed and he resembled Buddy Holly and that’s how I remember seeing him.

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  • John Sinkowski

    I grew up in Northampton and saw some great stuff here as a kid. Saw the Hooters play here in early 80s prior to their breakout album. Saw lots of live bands through out the years. Maybe mod Betty’s husband can play here 🙂
    Know Rich personally and used to run spot lights for live acts though the 90s and 2000s

  • John – what a cool backstory – Retro Roadhusband is pals with the Hooters – I’ll have to ask them about it next time we see them!

  • Ed Emig

    The Roxy is a real treasure. I saw a lot of concerts and shows there during the days when one of the local radio stations hosted frequent concerts by the up and coming performers of the day. I was at the Billy Joel concert you mentioned. Also superb shows by Caravan, Al Stewart, Roy Buchanan, Strawbs, The National Lampoon Radio Show (with Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Richard Belzer, and Gilda Radner), and many others. I’m really glad to see that it’s still going strong.

    • Ed – The Roxy is one of Mod Bs unexpectedly found treasures. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels happy it is still around!

  • victoria hallerman

    As someone who is promoting a book–and a blog– about going broke running a movie palace, I applaud Retro Roadmap for this tour of a pristine operational single-screen movie theater with a working marquee that still has changeable letters. What a find!
    Catch my act, BTW, at