The Historic Mishler Theatre, located at 1208 Twelfth Avenue, Altoona, PA, opened its doors on February 15, 1906. Even then it carried the highest distinction by being the first structure of its kind in America to be completely devoted to theatrical pursuits, as in the early 1900’s theatres occupied the second floor of commercial buildings.
Albert Westover, a prominent theatre architect of the time, designed the grand house for Isaac Charles (Doc) Mishler, and his original plans remain on file, along with other theatre archived documents and memorabilia.
Isaac Mishler was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 30, 1862, moving to Altoona to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad just months before his 19th birthday. After several years with the P.R.R., he opened a cigar store on 11th Avenue. The store soon became a gathering place for men interested in baseball and other amusements, and Mr. Mishler became a promoter for professional baseball, for a number of years placing teams with the Pennsylvania State League.
His theatrical career began in 1893 when he took over the Eleventh Avenue Opera House, located on the corner of 11th Avenue & 11th Street. At first he was in partnership with Charles Myers, but in 1896 he assumed full ownership and managed the Opera House until 1907, when it was destroyed by fire.
During this same period of time he was also managing the State Street Theatre in Trenton New Jersey, and the Cambria Theatre in Johnstown. Isaac Mishler used his own money to build the Mishler Theatre, and, except for the three months it took to rebuild after its own disasterous fire, the beautiful new playhouse flourished until the 1920’s.