top of page

News and Notes

Another Look at The Sampson's Storied Past and Bright Future

The Sampson Theatre, located in downtown Penn Yan, is a historic landmark that has been a staple of our community since its opening in 1910. This grand theater has played an essential role in the cultural and social fabric of the Finger Lakes region for over a century, hosting countless performances, films, and events.

Today, the theater is in need of restoration and renovations to preserve its historical significance and ensure its continued use for generations to come.

The Sampson Theatre was designed by prominent architect Leon Lempert, and its construction was funded by local businessman Charles Sampson. It originally seated over 1,200 patrons and featured state-of-the-art technology, including a large orchestra pit and a system for projecting both silent and sound films. The theater's grand façade, which boasts an impressive marquee, has become an iconic symbol of Penn Yan.

Over the years, the Sampson Theatre has played host to a diverse array of events and performances, including vaudeville shows, musical acts, plays, and films. Its stage has welcomed such luminaries as Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, and Duke Ellington. The theater also played an essential role during World War II, serving as a recreational center for soldiers stationed at the nearby Sampson Naval Training Center.

Despite its long and storied history, the Sampson Theatre is currently in need of significant repairs and upgrades. Currently, PYTCo has been able to restore the main stage of The Sampson, replace all windows, restore the original front doors, replace the building’s ceiling tiles with original tin replicas, and much more. Be sure to learn more about PYTCo's accomplishments and vision at The Sampson at

Not only has PYTCo physically reformed The Sampson, but the local nonprofit has been able to get the building listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places as well as selected to the Landmark Society’s Inaugural ‘Five to Revive’ List as a priority for preservation.

If you’re interested in learning more about PYTCo’s current plans to revitalize The Sampson into a working theatre as well as a multi-use building for the community, be sure to visit

To preserve this important piece of local history and continue to provide our community with a vital cultural resource, The Sampson Theatre and PYTCo are seeking donations. Contributions can help fund renovations and ensure the theater's continued use for future generations. Donations can be made directly here:

The Sampson Theatre is a beloved cultural institution in our community, and a vital part of the Finger Lakes region's history. By supporting its restoration and preservation, you can help ensure that it remains a valuable resource for generations to come.


bottom of page