THE RESTORATION OF THE PENN YAN
~ A PYTCo -
PENNSYLVANIA YANKEE THEATER COMPANY - PROJECT ~
Please note: This site is not an official site of Pennsylvania Yankee Theater Company.
It was designed by a supporter of the Sampson Theater project, and is hosted on the
Penn Yan First Baptist Church website.
Click here for PYTCo's Sampson Theatre site
Click here for other interesting Penn Yan sites
~ THE SAMPSON THEATRE ~
NEWS ITEM #1
For 20 years the Sampson was the center of entertainment and live stage productions in Penn Yan. But with the coming of motion pictures and the building of the Elmwood Theater, the Sampson become less relevant in the life of the community. So, in 1930 it's use as a theatre ended. since that time the building has served several purposes, some not too glamorous! But now, nearly 100 years after it's construction, there is new hope for old Sampson! Work is under way for the restoration of the building to be used in it's original role - a place of entertainment.
~~ The Sampson in it's heyday ~~
Built in 1910, The Sampson is an early example of a "poured concrete" building, containing over 50,000 cubic feet of concrete. With 2 balconies and 12 boxes, it seated over 900. The stage is 58 feet wide and 36 feet deep with a "fly space" height of 55 feet to the gridiron. Reportedly, this provided ample space for elaborate scenery from the New York City playhouses that could not be accommodated in any Rochester or Elmira theater. The proscenium is 32 feet wide by 25 feet high, and the back row of seating was only about 45 feet from the stage. It is said that there wasn't a bad seat in the house.
A first, and very important step in the the process of rehabilitation of the old Sampson has been accomplished - the roof has been replaced. This included replacement of deteriorated areas of wood in the roof area. Fortunately, because of the concrete construction of the building, little other structural damage was done by years of water infiltration, other than damage to corner portions of the stage area.
Other work includes the removal of many of the alterations which were made to the building at the end of the Sampson's use as a playhouse. most of a false floor over the old seating and orchestra pit area, as well as much of a "hanging ceiling" and some partitions have been removed . This work makes it possible to see the original form of the theater. The results can be seen in the
Photo tour section.
Two news articles describing the October 12, 1910 opening of the Sampson have been included. They can be seen by clicking here:
NEWS ITEM #1
NEWS ITEM #2
An article by Brian Cerow describing the Sampson's past was publisned in the 1984 Penn Yan Chronicle Express Summer Issue. Click here:
NEWS ITEM #3
Here are links to two earlier theaters in Penn Yan:
CORNWELL OPERA HOUSE
~~ The Sampson had two balconies ~~
~~ The great height of the stage area can be seen in this view ~~
This is an earlier picture. The marque seen in the photos
above was not original, but was a later addition
~~ below - A computer rendition of how The Sampson interior may have looked ~~
The appearance of the box area is not known other than there were twelve boxes on three levels. The curtain bore an image of the Esperanza Mansion, but again, the exact appearance is not known.
Click on picture for a larger image
~~ From an early Sampson ad - 1910 ~~
Click on the image to see the whole ad
~~ A clever promotion - around 1913 ~~