The Boyd has been closed for so long–10 years ago as of May 2nd–that some folks might wonder what all the fuss is about. The facade of the circa-1928 movie palace is modest rather than palatial, with dun-colored stonework that is downright mousy.
The Boyd’s interior is what earns it a spot in the pantheon of Philadelphia’s greatest Art Deco architecture, much of which we featured a couple weeks ago in a story by Ben Leech and a photo essay by Laura Kicey. Plenty of original decoration remains intact, including the asbestos fire curtain and a series of murals depicting “The Triumph of the Modern Woman.”
The closest the Boyd has came to being restored was in 2009, when developer Hal Wheeler put together a plan to build a luxury hotel on the property that would connect with a restored theater. But the project was slowed by the national financial crisis, and then fell apart when Wheeler died of a heart attack in early 2010. There were rumors something promising was in the works last fall, but whatever it was is no longer on the table, according to Friends of the Boyd’s Howard B. Haas. There are “other possibilities,” said Haas in an e-mail, but he declined to reveal any details.