Update: Wynne Theater Demolition Imminent

The letters being removed in December 2011. Photo: Provenance Architecturals, LLC

The Wynne Theater’s days are numbered. According to Curtis Cephas, a consultant to Fourth District city councilman Curtus Jones, the long vacant theater is among four properties in the district being targeted for redevelopment. The other properties–vacant lots–are located at 59th and Market, 55th and Poplar, and 49th and Parkside.

The 1,700 seat theater opened in 1928, at 54th Street and Arlington, in Wynnefield, last showed movies in 1955. It was later converted to a banquet hall. It’s best known for the WYNNE sign attached to 20 foot lattice on the roof of the building. The marquis sign below it was removed in December. For our previous report on the Wynne, click HERE.

The city acquired the Wynne when it went to sheriff’s sale this summer. The previous owner, reportedly a family in conflict over the property, had accumulated over $500,000 in back taxes.

Councilman Jones’ office is currently accepting proposals for the site and has already received several inquiries. Because the building has been open to the elements for over a decade, preservation in whole or even in part is no longer considered a feasible option.

Cephas believes that the site is ideal for a mixed-use complex anchored by senior housing. Lafayette Hill-based developer Presby recently broke ground for a a similar project several blocks away. It filled before breaking ground.

 

 

 

 

About the author

Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of PennDesign, is a native Philadelphian who is passionate about the changing city she inhabits. Before beginning her graduate studies in historic preservation with a focus on policy, Rachel obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011). She currently works as a program associate at Partners for Sacred Places.



5 Comments


  1. The CDC report proposed keeping the front portion of the building, along with the rooftop sign (which is the last of its kind in the city). Is it just Jones who is claiming partial preservation is no longer feasible? Or has he let engineers in?
    Were the rooftop letters really removed in December? I thought only the marquee was removed.

    • Ben, you’re right–it was the marquis letters removed in December. I updated the post.
      Rachel should be able to answer the questions on Jones’ assessment.

    • Rachel Hildebrandt

      Cephas didn’t specify, so I’m nearly positive that it’s Jones’ determination.

    • I was in here last summer and it was in pretty sad shape. Garbage everywhere and just a damp dark environment on the first floor, lots of rust and muck. I also recall there may have been a hole in the roof and the second floor did have some soft spots (they divided the auditorium with a floor at balcony level)

      I could see where if it were going to be saved nothing would be salvageable but the buildings shell. Its almost worth keeping the fromt facade just for the Wynne sign.

  2. As a lifetime Wynnefield resident….it’ll be different to see some actual life in this building, it’s just been a waste of space for as long as I’ve known. Glad to see something done…..anything, really.

Recent Posts
Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

December 19, 2014  |  Buzz

It has been a long, complicated saga for the Samuel Sloan-designed John P. Levy House at 40th and Pine. Today the Historical Commission's Hardship Committee added the story with a recommendation that may clear the way for the Italliante mansion's demolition > more

Travels Through The Ghost City

Travels Through The Ghost City

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

The wrecking ball and the crane seem to be the symbols of the year as Philadelphia's built landscape changes--in some places at a furious pace. Architect Andrew Evans has been paying attention--his time-lapse images capture the process as the new replaces the old > more

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito's

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito’s

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

There is nothing like lining up to buy baked goods in South Philly during the holidays. Theresa Stigale has this photo essay about Potito's, a classic, family-owned neighborhood bakery at 16th and Ritner > more

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

December 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

North Philly university moves to protect its off-campus students from violent crime, DVRPC approves I-95 capping study, Nightingale Properties to rebrand Seven Penn Center, and a “Little Farm” expands in South Kensington > more

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What's At Stake

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What’s At Stake

December 18, 2014  |  News

What to do with all the churches? With the imminent loss of another Fishtown church, New Kensington Community Development Corporation wants you to see what's at stake--join them for a post-holiday tour. Michael Bixler reports > more

Transforming The Schuylkill

Transforming The Schuylkill

December 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A re-bridging of sorts for the Central Schuylkill, good news for South Philly ship, Liberty Square work begins, and the lax enforcement of condos’ Christmas tree ban > more