Parties representing movie interests came to Dunellen, New Jersey in November of 1910, to see if the area could support an attraction of this kind. The promoters tried to lease the western store of the Linke building, 380 North Avenue, but couldn't come to terms with the owners.
A year later, J.G. Wolfe of Scotch Plains, N.J. decided to open a theater at this same location. By December, 1911, Dunellen had its first movie at a 10 cent admission price. In four months, business declined and the doors closed April 13, 1912. Wolfe opened up again in May, featuring a different picture every night, but had to close up for good by June 1st.
Arthur Heatherington of New York, bought two lots and received permission from the Council to build and operate a theater at 214 North Avenue. Work commenced in July of 1913. Fred D. Eckerson was manager and resided in Dunellen with his family. The opening performance was held on September 20, 1913 to a packed house
Current owner Richard Zupko, whose adjoining eponymous tavern has been under his family's ownership for years, grew up as had so many other area residents, attending the theater. Determined to save the theater from the wrecking ball, Zupko purchased the Dunellen Theater in 1989, cleaned up the facility and, combined with his tavern, began making plans to renovate and restore the theater and explore using it for alternative entertainment offerings.
These plans lay mostly dormant for the better part of a decade until February, 2001, when Zupko formed a partnership with area theatre veteran Ken Schwarz, dedicated to scheduling full seasons of live theatre and events, as well as continuing to exhibit movies; thus insuring that the Dunellen Theater's colorful history will continue to be written.
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