History

The Cinema theater has been a neighborhood institution since it opened its doors in 1914. Our research shows it to be one of the oldest continuously running movie theaters in the United States, if not the oldest. The theater began as The Clinton, but due to a circular arrangement of wooden benches with an open area in the middle, it was affectionately referred to as the "flea pit”, a name which stuck for many years — and long after the the original dirt floor was covered and the benches were replaced with seats.

In 1949, The Clinton was fully renovated with its current art-deco façade and renamed The Cinema. The Cinema started out as an upscale art theater and, in its day, it had people lined up around the block for premieres and the like.

By the mid 80s however, it had sunk into disrepair and was in danger of closing so it was a welcome breath of fresh air when, in 1985, Jo Ann Morreale took over the business. Her impact was immediately felt as she effected extensive renovations and repairs. In addition, Jo Ann brought a great sense of community, a love of movies, a unique sense of humor and a very hands-on approach to the business.

In her time, she has become the face of this venerable institution because she is usually the person who welcomes you to the Cinema with a very big smile, if not a hug. During her tenure, she has succeeded at the same time as a large number of single screens have gone by the wayside.

As a credit to her management and business skill, this past June 1st, she celebrated her 21st year of ownership with a marquee lighting ceremony, an event held in tandem to mark the Cinema's 92nd year of showing feature films — something we hope it will continue to do for many years to come.

Cinema Theatre, Rochester's Oldest Neighborhood Theatre, 957 South Clinton Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620