York Town Square

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Part II, Good night in Glen Rock: Dinner and a movie and the American dream

The Glen Theatre in Glen Rock was built as a band hall 99 years ago. That was the day that many towns in York County, Pa., sported community bands, since replaced for parades and community concerts by high school bands. This stock certificate shows Mrs. Clyde L. Seitz paid $10 each for five shares of band hall stock in 1922. The Glen operates today as a movie theater. (Click on the certificate to enlarge it.) Also of interest: ‘Rocks in the Glen’ turns into town where things happen and ‘These 1912 drivers!’ and other stories around Glen Rock, Pa.

So, Yorktownsquare.com readers leaned via Thursday’s post, Good Night in Glen Rock, about the first part of an evening out in that historic York County town.

We pick up the story after my wife and I enjoyed a dinner at Mignano’s Bros. where one of the bros., Salvatore, told us about his pending American citizenship, for which he was proud and grateful:

After that wonderful moment at Mignano’s, my wife and I had plenty of time for the short walk uphill through the cold to Manchester Street’s Glen Theatre.
Now the Glen is not just any theater. It opened in 1913, the home of the Glen Rock Musical Association. (The Zion View Band Hall, now the York County Racing Club, in Conewago Township is another former band hall now used for other purposes.)
But the Glen Rock group was not just any community band.
Roland F. Seitz was its conductor.
That’s the Seitz who composed the famed parade march ‘Grandioso’ and ranked up there with John Philip Sousa.
And the Glen Rock theater is not like any other theater in the towns surrounding York. It’s the only one left in operation.
The Hanover theater, well, it’s on the endangered list. The one in Stewartstown? We hope someone rescues it.
The one in Mount Wolf is in use. As a church.
The Dallastown theater showed flicks until it closed recently.
But the Glen stands today as a working movie theater.
As you enter, there is the usual lobby, cramped but about what you’d expect in a good way. And the lavishly buttered popcorn ($4.50 for small with diet soda). And the glass case with the Milk Duds and Skittles.
And the tickets came to only $5 each.
Stepping inside the auditorium took you back 100 years. Make that 30 years — 1980s hair band anthems welcomed us from the theater speakers.
I was hoping for some Seitz marches to take us until the previews.
A red runner on the main aisle led to the carpeted stage where a single large screen sat.
Outmatched radiators, yes, radiators in a movie theater, worked valiantly in the large room, built for 500.
The curving balcony was the hall’s most memorable feature. Its bubbled façade ran from just above the stage on the left around the room to a perch looking down on the platform on the right.
VIP boxes marked each end of the horseshoe, and one could just imagine peering down on Roland Seitz with his baton, putting Glen Rockers through their paces 100 years ago.
An audience of about 20 enjoyed the long film with its heroic war horse and happy ending.
People were in good humor on their way out. Some probably were thinking of the absorbing movie and good user experience, to borrow from the digital world, offered by the old band hall-theater.
Others no doubt compared the $15 spent on admission and food versus the $30 or more they would lay down at a multiplex for two seats.

We walked down the hill to our car, still in Mignano’s parking lot.
We agreed it was an adventure worth repeating.
A meal and movie. Just like in the old days.
And I thought how many other such unsung opportunities awaited elsewhere in York County. You can always discover new stuff around here.
As we passed Mignano’s, I glanced through the window and saw Salvatore still there, still working, living the American dream.
He was a couple of hours closer to the ceremony where he would gain his citizenship.
And I thought about what he had said: What a great country we have.

Also of interest about Glen Rock:
Museum goer: ‘I really like these old pictures of Glen Rock’.
Mystery of Glen Rock-area’s Narrow Gauge Road deepens.
This time, entrepreneur in York County’s Glen Rock bet on the wrong horse.
Glen Rock hilltop farm: ‘You cannot stay stressed here for long’.
Add obscure marker to list of things to see in Glen Rock
Glen Rock marked site of AMP/Tyco’s first Pa. plant

*Photo and music association information courtesy of the Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society.