History of Our Theater Building
The building we now know as Sellersville Theater has a rich and colorful history that is directly linked to its neighbor, The Washington House. Over two hundred years ago The Washington House began as a small farmhouse built on an ancient Lenni Lenape trail. Owned by Mr. Jan Jenson, it sat on land deeded from William Penn to Mr. Thomas Freame, who transferred 102 acres to Jenson in 1735. The property was later purchased by Samuel Sellers who enlarged the building and made it into a tavern. Henceforth, both the hotel and the town were known as “Sellers Tavern”. The site became a town center, serving as the first Post Office, hotel, and stagecoach stop for the long journey between Bethlehem and Philadelphia.
In 1894 the locals witnessed what many considered to be a high point in the development of the town, the construction of a new brick livery stable whose design was "marveled at by the elders." For many years the hotel and stable served as the hub of the community. As time passed, people and transportation changed, but the imposing brick and stone structure remained, serving as a storage garage for automobiles and food delivery trucks.
In 1950, the stable building took on a new life when Mr. Bernard Haines bought and converted it into the "Selvil Theater", the area’s one and only movie house. While renovating, he had the exterior brick walls plastered and painted. Today you can still see the outlines of the original stone arches showing through the plaster at the ground level.
In 1970, a seven-alarm fire destroyed the roof and interior of the building. Rescued by new owners, Joan and Robert Ianetta in 1972, the theater was rebuilt and renamed "Cinema 1894", after the discovery of the original cornerstone during renovations. The theater was eventually purchased by Pat and David Maclay who personally handled the day-to-day operation of the business for almost thirty years.
In July of 2001 William Quigley and Elayne Brick, who had bought and restored the restaurant building in 1985, purchased the stable/movie house from the Maclay family. Their goal was to preserve the building by creating a home for arts and entertainment that would also bring a new vitality to the town of Sellersville. Major renovations began in May of 2002. An enthusiastic group of local citizens and friends signed on as Charter Members to help make the project a reality. Doors opened in September to a sold out crowd as Bucks County’s own Leon Redbone took the stage!
In 2007 the building underwent a further renovation as the old movie marquee was removed, the lobby re-designed and enlarged, and an outdoor deck added, again, with the help of Theater Members, including many local businesses.
Today Sellersville Theater 1894 is a vital stop on the East Coast concert circuit. Specializing in an ambitious, eclectic mix of top name artists and great new talent, the intimate venue is renowned for its sound quality and the up-close feel of the performances. This much-loved “listening room” continues the long tradition of warmly welcoming visitors from near and far – both artists and audiences - to the town of Sellersville. View Theater History Photo Album