Poplar Theatre Renovated For Performing Arts

 

Photo: Hidden City Daily

Now ninety-nine years old, the former Poplar Cinema Art Theatre at Sixth and Poplar in the Northern Liberties, where Louis Kahn played piano in the 1910s and 20s, still stands, with its doors and windows bricked up, and little to suggest its past life.

Recently, Seymore Rubin & Associates purchased the building from Pearl Pressman Liberty Communications, and in hoping to ready the space for lease, renovated the building, removing a great deal of the theater’s surviving interior detail.

Photo: Hidden City Daily

Here is some of that detail, of the proscenium, in this still taken from this video.

Inside the Poplar Theater before renovation

Rubin’s hope is to rent the theater to an arts group that could use it as a performance or exhibition space.

Since the late 1700s, dozens of theaters have come and gone in the Northern Liberties—perhaps more than in any place in Philadelphia. Among the earliest was the Northern Liberties Theater on the wharf extending into the Delaware River from Noble Street (by Front Street). Most acts were evidently disreputable and the venue was gloomy. The theater closed and was turned into a shipwright’s shop.

Later on, folks frequented the Washington Circus, a frame structure put up in 1828 on Old York Road between Buttonwood and Green (around Fifth and Spring Garden Streets). Clown and strong-man performances were held there, as were horse-riding exhibitions. The building was reconstructed into a dramatic theater in 1829 with seating arranged for audiences up to 1,200 people. Known also as the Washington Amphitheater, it was gone by the 1850s.

.

About the author

Harry Kyriakodis, author of Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront (2011), Northern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward (2012), and The Benjamin Franklin Parkway (2014), regularly gives walking tours and presentations on unique yet unappreciated parts of the city. A founding/certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, he is a graduate of La Salle University and Temple University School of Law, and was once an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He has collected what is likely the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love: over 2700 titles new and old.

Send a message!



No Comments


Trackbacks

  1. More from Philadelphia — Poplar Theatre | Theatre Historical Society Readerboard

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Pride And Prejudice: Honor LGBT History With Rizzo Statue Removal

Pride And Prejudice: Honor LGBT History With Rizzo Statue Removal

June 21, 2018  |  Soapbox

For Pride Month, Ali Roseberry-Polier takes a look at Frank Rizzo's legacy of aggression towards Philly's LGBT community and why his divisive monument should be moved > more

Docomomo PHL To Host

Docomomo PHL To Host “Wake” For Modernist Store

June 18, 2018  |  News

Modernist architecture advocacy group will hold a demonstration to protest Philadelphia's historic preservation crisis. Michael Bixler has the details > more

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad's Opera Palace

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad’s Opera Palace

June 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Rob McClung takes us on a journey through the turbulent history and present reawakening of the mighty Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar > more

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

June 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Mariam Williams dives deep into the social evolution of Malcolm X Park to unearth the history of race and economics within a neighborhood space > more

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

June 8, 2018  |  Vantage

The Italian Market Project mixes a walking tour with Philly-accented theater in a fun, immersive experience. Mickey Herr has the details > more

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

June 6, 2018  |  Soapbox

Ali Roseberry-Polier discusses civil rights history, selective public memory, and why she created an historical marker for a Black female activist who challenged segregation in 19th century Philadelphia > more