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Penn Theatre/Friends of the Penn

Penn Theatre/Friends of the Penn

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Entertainment Movie Theaters Non-profit Organizations

About

The Woodward Theatre Company purchased a parcel of land in downtown Plymouth in 1926 from George H. Wilcox with the intention of building a first class movie palace. It would be thirteen years before Harry Lush, employee at the Penniman & Allen Theatre, would purchase the property from the Woodward Theatre Company and begin plans on a theatre of his own. The name of the theatre, which was situated across from Kellogg Park, was changed twice before the building was complete and finally crowned in green neon with the name “PENN”.The Penn Theatre officially opened on December 4, 1941, with the showing The Woodward Theatre Company purchased a parcel of land in downtown Plymouth in 1926 from George H. Wilcox with the intention of building a first class movie palace. It would be thirteen years before Harry Lush, employee at the Penniman & Allen Theatre, would purchase the property from the Woodward Theatre Company and begin plans on a theatre of his own. The name of the theatre, which was situated across from Kellogg Park, was changed twice before the building was complete and finally crowned in green neon with the name “PENN”. The Penn Theatre officially opened on December 4, 1941, with the showing of “Weekend in Havana” starring John Payne and Carmen Miranda. Due to Mr. Lush\'s dislike of popcorn, the movie house staple was not served at the Penn until 1950 after Mr. Lush moved to California and the theatre was being managed by Margaret Wilson, who became the Penn\'s second owner in 1964. In late 1966, plans were drawn to “modernize” the entrance (as it appears today) as well as create a proper concession area in the main lobby. The Penn has stood the test of time, surviving the advent of “a television in every living room” and the appearance of movies in VHS and DVD format. Over the next 58 years the theatre changed ownership several times but dedicated projectionist, Lloyd Oliver, “the voice of the Penn”, remained a constant at 760 Penniman Avenue until it closed its doors in late 2003 for “remodeling”. The Penn remained closed through 2004 with its fate uncertain. In February of 2005, Jennifer Philpot-Munson, a Plymouth native who was concerned about the future of the historic Penn Theatre and the impact its closing has had on the community, organized the Friends of the Penn. Through a survey conducted in April 2005, the group received an overwhelming response from the community in support of re-opening the Penn. The issue of procuring $1.2 M to purchase the building remained a stumbling block, however. In December of 2005, when it looked like all hope was lost, local businessman Don Soenen had an amazing idea. He made just sixteen phone calls and in less than three weeks was able to form Penn Theatre Realty, LLC and purchase the building from its current owners. This wonderful group of “angels” unselfishly decided to lease the building to Friends of the Penn for $1/year. The Friends of the Penn reopened the theatre in September, 2006. During the first year of operation their dedicated volunteer staff of over 100 logged more than 6000 hours and welcomed over 27,000 patrons Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Please check their website or call for the latest showings. 734-453-0870

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