Breaking News Announcement Expected For Boyd

posted by Ross Melnick on January 5, 2005 at 9:46 am

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The following was sent in by Howard Haas:

“Many of you are reading news accounts today in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News which report that there is an announcement expected today at 1 PM.

I would invite those who are not prevented by work at that time to stand outside Philadelphia’s movie palace to be present, but the prediction of “ice pellets” means you may prefer to pay attention to the news accounts!

I’m sure everybody understands that until the announcement, I’m not disclosing the news or potential terms of any deal. As an attorney, I respect confidences. And having worked from the start with all parties, as President of the Friends of the Boyd, I know when the right time is to make such disclosures.

There are two matters I wish to address. The Inq. reports a fellow who is a legend in his own right says that Alexander Boyd made his fortune gambling on Mississippi riverboats before World War One. In our extensive research of the history of the Boyd Theatre, we have yet to discover such!

What we do know is that Alexander Boyd was one of the most beloved, respected, and long lasting of Philadelphia area movie operators. As a young man before World War One, he founded several of Center City’s Philadelphia early & long lasting moviehouses, including the Arcadia at 1529 Chestnut (a retail store now, but you can still see a marquee). Of course, even if the gambling assertion was in fact true (and I’m dying to see any written evidence of it, but you understand that I strongly doubt it) then he would be “home” in a Philadelphia of the near future, a city that will have its own casinos, for good or for bad.

But, seriously, people still fondly recall Mr. Boyd as a very respected gentleman, just as they cherish the Boyd Theatre, and refer to the theater as the Boyd, not as the Sameric. I’ll own up to my own mistake in 2002, naming the “Committee to Save the Sameric.” Hundreds of people corrected me, so we incorporated as a nonprofit as the Friends of the Boyd. Mr. Boyd’s most lavish movie palace, the theater we are fighting to save, is his legacy to all of us, and we must protect it for future generations.

Second, in the 1980’s, the Boyd did become a multiplex, as the Inq. reports, but nobody should think the huge historic movie palace was divided into 4 auditoriums. Three auditoriums were added on vacant land to the west of the theater. The new auditoriums were built on land that had been part of the old Aldine Hotel, and would likely have become Chestnut Street retail in 1928 when the theater opened. The site did not become retail, but stayed vacant as something called the Crash resulted in the Great Depression.

I know! You really want to hear about plans for the Boyd Theatre’s future, and I know the most popular question will be “Will there be a film program?” Stay tuned!

Howard B. Haas, President, Friends of the Boyd"

Comments (2)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 6, 2005 at 11:18 am

This is great news. Clear Channel did a wonderful job rescuing and restoring the Opera House (aka Savoy, aka BF Keith Memorial) in Boston last year.

Oliver on January 6, 2005 at 1:03 pm

I loved the Boyd. When I was twelve, my family and I went to see “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, I was surprised to see a curved screen, and a majestic movie palace, that is probably why when I was a teenager, I worked in various theatres in Center City (Midtown and Goldman, and the Milgram Theatres). Let’s restore this theatre to its former glory. Let’s be proud of Philadelphia.

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