CLARION - The Arnold Block in Clarion was a beehive of activity in 1919. A new movie theater was being completed that would give the people of Clarion "one of the prettiest and most approved type of moving picture theatres in Western Pennsylvania."
The Orpheum Theater had been showing movies at a location of Sixth Street but the Clarion Democrat newspaper said it was "on account of the limited seating was very much handicapped."
Clarion's other theatre, The Grand, also operated in a converted building.
The Orpheum would be the first building designed to show movies.
The Democrat said the new Orpheum would be "comfortable and pleasing so that in connection with fine picture plays, which will be shown in an ideal manner."
The new theater was finished in mid-August. It lived up to the billing. Located along Main Street, it compared favorably to the "most up-to-date theaters in the large cities."
The newspaper described the theatre in detail. The walls and ceiling were made of hardwood while the floor was concrete. Two large swinging doors provided access to the auditorium.
The newspaper said the lighting of the lobby "is very simple yet most effective throwing a flood of light out over the street."
Possibly the most impressive thing was a large, flashing, electric sign, the only one of its kind in Clarion.
The sign, according to the Democrat, "attracts the stranger to the home of the silent drama."
The Orpheum showed the blockbuster movies of the time. William S. Hart, an early Western star, appeared in "The Poppy Girl's Husband" and Dorothy Gish appeared in "Peppy Polly."
It was a different show every night of the week.
The auditorium was furnished with mahogany seats, 20 inches in width, and spaced 30 inches between rows.
The seats were arranged on an incline to "give excellent vision from every part of the room." No seats were placed with 15 feet of the screen so that children could "occupy the front seats without injury to their eyes."
After a rash of fatal theater fires, safety was important.
The Orpheum had four large exits. The projection room was placed to the side of the entry. It was a "model of safety."
Movies were printed on celluloid film, which was highly combustible.
"Nothing has been left undone to make it absolutely fireproof and all hazards have been practically eliminated," said the newspaper.
According to the Democrat, two of the "very latest" model projection machines that provided a "clear and distinct picture and free from "flicker."
The creature comforts were not forgotten. A ladies rest room led off from the theater proper. Two large exhaust fans were installed with a capacity to change the air within the theater every two minutes.
The manager, Mr. Hepinger, promised only the best pictures would be shown at the Orpheum.
"No picture will be too big to be shown at popular prices," said the Democrat. "Only clean, refreshing pictures will appear on the screen of the new Orpheum."
In an era of silent pictures, the musical accompaniment was important. "Much attention will be given the musical parts of the program during the coming season," said the Democrat. "Our people are now assured the best pictures in an equally fine place to enjoy them."