YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Last year, author Sean Posey released his first book called “Lost Youngstown” about everything that used to be before big steel left town. Now, Posey has a new book, detailing all the old theaters that once called the area home.
For instance, years ago, Deyor Center for the Performing Arts was known as the Warner Theater — as you can read in Posey’s book “Historic Theaters of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.”
Posey recently met with WKBN’s Stan Boney at the Deyor to talk about the book that will be available on Aug. 21:
Sean Posey: “What I found to be amazing was I found at least 70-plus theaters that existed one time or another downtown, including the early nickelodeans. And it’s suspected there were more than that, when you take a look at the whole city — probably more than 75 at one time or another, just in Youngstown.”
Stan Boney: Talk about ones that most people have heard, and maybe something people haven’t heard of that’s obscure.
Sean Posey: “Probably the ones that most people are going to be aware of are what they called the big four theaters downtown: the Warner, the Palace, the Paramount and the State. Those were the biggest, the nicest — most people were familiar with those. But there are some that are long gone, like the Regent Theater which was a small, nickelodean-type theater on East Federal Street that started off showing cowboy movies and eventually became a theater that was more or less geared toward African Americans during a time of segregation during the 1940s.”
Stan Boney: Now, you don’t just focus on downtown Youngstown. You go to all the communities in the area, correct?
Sean Posey: “Right. I tried to include every community in the Valley that I could find that had a photograph. So there’s the Robbins Theater in Warren, the Palace Theater in Hubbard, the Ritz Theater in Struthers. I even had a couple theaters in Campbell — I was surprised to find out that Campbell, Ohio, actually had several theaters at one time.”
Stan Boney: Now I’m sure there was a lot going into it that you already knew. What didn’t you know after you did the research and went, ‘Oh wow I didn’t know that?’
Sean Posey: “I was surprised at just how important theaters were. Theaters started out being mostly just in downtown areas, then they spread out into neighborhoods. And almost every side of Youngstown, for example, had a neighborhood theater. People could just walk to the neighborhood theater.”