Boyd Remains in Limbo

Entrance to the Boyd Theater, 1928. Photo: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

Boyd Remains in Limbo

Auditorium of the Boyd Theater prior to Mock-Up, 2005. Credit: Rob Bender.

 

Fans of the historic Boyd Theater on Chestnut Street are still looking for a white knight to replace Hal Wheeler, who died in early 2010, before his plans to restore the movie palace could be realized.

Wheeler planned a full restoration of Center City’s last great movie house as part of a Kimpton-Monaco hotel connected to the space, designed by Martinez + Johnston Architecture. After receiving the necessary permits and obtaining community support for the project, Wheeler suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving the Boyd without a clear future yet again.

“It’s a tragedy and unfortunately we are not yet at the point when we can say for sure that it is saved,” said Friends of the Boyd founder Howard Haas. “It’s like City Hall or the Academy of Music and many other wonderful buildings that came close to being demolished and instead have become our great, treasured landmarks.”

Entrance to the Boyd Theater, 1928. Credit: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

The Boyd is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, which protects it from demolition.  However, property owners can submit a financial hardship application to the Historical Commission that if approved would allow a protected building to be torn down.

Built in 1928 by Hoffman-Henon Co., the 2,350-seater was the premiere Art Deco-style movie palace in Center City. The interior featured etched and colored glass throughout the lobby, and a mural series in the auditorium centered on “The Triumph of the Modern Woman.”

Wheeler’s aborted plan was the second near-miss for Boyd restoration efforts.  In 2006, after four years of advocacy by Friends of the Boyd, the building was sold to Clear Channel following the bankruptcy of United Artists. Restoration studies found that remnants of the original decorations were still intact.  The original murals had survived, as did a beautifully preserved fire curtain with its original Art Deco design, and a sample of the original carpet with its original 1928 Art Deco design that was found underneath a candy stand.

The plans were short-lived, however. Clear Channel spun off its theaters into the independent corporation Live Nation, which subsequently shifted its corporate focus, putting the theater up for sale.

Perhaps the third time will be the charm for the Boyd, when (and if) it comes.

Tomorrow, in News: an update on the redevelopment of the Wynne Theater

About the author

Lauren Drapala works as an architectural conservator at the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2008 to earn her Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, she has been mesmerized by the wealth of architectural resources throughout the city and its surrounding districts. Continuing the research she began in her graduate work, Lauren is currently authoring a book about the 20th century interiors and decorative screens of Robert Winthrop Chanler. Learn more about this project at http://robertwinthropchanler.tumblr.com/.



1 Comment


  1. Please visit our website, join our free email list, and from the website, visit our Facebook page which has many photos.
    http://www.friendsoftheboyd.org

Trackbacks

  1. Hidden City Philadelphia profiles Boyd Theatre status | Theatre Historical Society Readerboard

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Reawakening The Colorful And Ornate Horn & Hardart

Reawakening The Colorful And Ornate Horn & Hardart

May 31, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Inga Saffron considers another Center City gem, historic protection sought for possible 19th century burial ground, the past and future of the Woodmere, and reaffirming the spatial context of war memorials > more

In South Philadelphia, A Truly Wholesale Demolition

In South Philadelphia, A Truly Wholesale Demolition

May 31, 2016  |  Vantage

For some 60 years, a low-slung, one-story building in South Philadelphia's industrial nether regions kept the city's restaurants and stores in the fresh fish; now it's coming down. Sansom Street Oyster House founder David Mink reflects on the Philadelphia Wholesale Seafood Market's early morning hustle and bustle > more

Blumenfeld To Add To Abbotts Square

Blumenfeld To Add To Abbotts Square

May 27, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Society Hill mixed-use set for expansion, Mt Sinai as demolition and construction site, Hershey’s signs on for Pennovation Center, and mapping Philly regional commuter patterns > more

In Kingsessing, A Colonial Cottage Keeps History In Place

In Kingsessing, A Colonial Cottage Keeps History In Place

May 27, 2016  |  Vantage

Just off of Woodlands Avenue among a block of crumbling rows stands a small, stone farmhouse that has miraculously withstood time and tide for over 250 years. Contributor Ann de Forest has the story behind the tiny colonial cottage on Vogdes Street > more

Planning Commission Signs Off On New Penn Medical Facility

Planning Commission Signs Off On New Penn Medical Facility

May 26, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Penn Tower replacement approved by planning commission, two West Philly community gardens safe from sheriff’s sale for now, South Philly school to get $100K for playground improvements, anti-gentrification graffiti in West Philly, and Habitat for Humanity begins work on 21 homes near Temple > more

Bicycles + Exploration = Bikesploration! (Round 2)

May 25, 2016  |  Uncategorized

  Hidden City and Spoke Magazine have teamed up again to present a four tour series of bicycle explorations. Three of the tours are brand new > more