The Arcadia Theatre began its great history of entertaining the area on December 12, 1921. The owners were Irvin Focht and Leon Klock. The theatre was a one screen seating 900 people. The first film was “The Old Nest” and tickets were 15 and 25 cents. Silent movies were the newest thing, so the theatre was equipped with and organ, piano, and even an orchestra, so musical accompaniment could be provided.In 1926, William Woodin, the owner of the Towanda theatre, along with W.H. Seigel, purchased the Arcadia. Woodin named his son Larry as the new manager. Larry Woodin was the driving force behind the success of the theatre through the first half of its life. In 1929, the Arcadia became one of the first theatres north of the Mason-Divon line to start showing “talkies”.
In 1934, Woodin, started showing films on Sundays, which met with concern from some of the town residents. Soon after, a fire damaged part of the theatre and it was decided that it might be a sign and so the theatre remained closed on Sundays for several years.
In 1949, the theatre held its first premiere — “Top O’ the Morning” starring Bing Crosby. Larry Woodin also built the Y Drive-In in 1952. The Drive-In closed in 1986.
In 1958, Larry Woodin sold the Arcadia and the Drive-In to local businessman Frank Dunham.
The theatre remained a vital part of Wellsboro’s downtown through the 1970s. You could usually find Frank at home behind the concessions stand, dishing out popcorn.
In 1987, the Wellsboro Hotel Company, which owns the Historic Penn Wells Hotel and Lodge, purchased the Arcadia from the Dunham family. During the 1980s and early 1990s, when television came to full strength, the theatre started to decline in attendance and condition.
In 1996, the decision was made to completely renovate the Arcadia. In celebration of its 75th year, the Arcadia Theatre reopened on March 21, 1997 as a state-of-the-art 4 screen facility, yet preserving the classic look of an old-time cinema. Special features such as Dinner & a Movie and live theatrical shows add to the charm and distinction of the Arcadia. The theatre now thrives with record crowds and the latest films. As the Arcadia Theatre moves forward in the 21st century, it will continue to entertain area residents and visitors and maintain its position as a vital asset to Wellsboro and Tioga County.