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.

Leave a Reply

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

 

Recent Posts
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

With World Heritage City Liftoff Tomorrow, What Can We Expect?

With World Heritage City Liftoff Tomorrow, What Can We Expect?

May 25, 2016  |  News

World Heritage and City officials will unveil the project's ambitious goals, but what do they have in mind, and can they deliver? Hilary Jay reports > more

PhillyU Students Rethink East Falls Station

PhillyU Students Rethink East Falls Station

May 25, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Imagining a rebuilt SEPTA station, recalling the fire of 1897, Pennsport residents want dog parks, five more homes for South Kensington, and operator selected for Parks on Tap summer series > more