John P. Harris

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John Paul Harris (died January 26, 1926 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) was a Pittsburgh businessman and politician who opened the world's first theater devoted entirely to showing Motion pictures.[1]

Harris' work in the entertainment industry began at Harris Comedy and Specialty Co., a company run by his father that produced vaudeville shows. In 1897 Harris Comedy and Specialty Co. showed Pittsburgh's first motion picture. On June 19, 1905, Harris and his brother-in-law, Harry Davis opened a small film theatre on a Smithfield Street storefront in Downtown Pittsburgh. The theatre, known as the Nickelodeon, was the first devoted exclusively for the exhibition of movies.[2]

In addition to owning theaters, Harris held shares in two National League baseball clubs. From November 15, 1910 to December 17, 1910, Harris served as the principal owner of the Boston Doves.[3][4] Following his sale of the Boston club, Harris purchased interest in the Pittsburgh Pirates.[4]

Harris was also involved in politics. From 1922 until his death he represented the 45th District in the Pennsylvania State Senate.[5]

The Harris Theater in Pittsburgh is named in honor of Harris.[6]

The John P. Harris Film Society, Point Park University's cinema club, is named after Harris.[7]


  1. ^ "Testament of Citizenship". The Pittsburgh Press. August 31, 1934. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  2. ^ Timothy McNulty (June 19, 2005). "You saw it here first: Pittsburgh's Nickelodeon introduced the moving picture theater to the masses in 1905". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  3. ^ "A New Owner For Boston Doves". Portsmouth Daily Times. November 15, 1910. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  4. ^ a b "Boston Nationals Sold". Boston Evening Transcript. December 17, 1910. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  5. ^ "Burgess Indorses Senator Harris". The Pittsburgh Press. March 26, 1924. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "JOHN P. HARRIS SOCIETY". Point Park University. Point Park University. Retrieved January 29, 2013.