Borough of Yeadon Votes to Demolish Yeadon Theatre

posted by btkrefft on February 7, 2006 at 7:18 am

YEADON, PA — The Borough Council of Yeadon has voted 6-1 in favor of razing the 1937 Yeadon Theatre, an Art Moderne movie house which is one of the last John Eberson-designed theaters in the Philadelphia area, according to a story in the Daily Times. A fire on January 8th caused extensive damage to the theater, which was already in poor shape in 2003 when demolition of the Yeadon was halted at the last moment (after a wrecking ball already knocked down the rear wall of the theater).

It was hoped that the facade and lobby of the theater would be salvaged, but according to Borough President Vivian Ford, only a few elements will be saved, including the theater’s name from the marquee, exit signs, and bricks. “Environmentally, it’s not safe,” says Ford, “There’s mold and rodents. It’s an accident waiting to happen. If there’s nothing salvageable, I don’t think we should keep it. For the good of our community, I’d rather see it go.”

Architect Margaret Westfield, a preservation specialist, reported to the Borough that “all significant interior fixtures and finishes” that made the landmark worth saving were ruined in the arson fire in January. Westfield says, “The tangible fabric that illustrated architect John Eberson’s Art Moderne vision for the theater’s interior was completely lost”.

Greg Wax, owner of the Narberth Theatre, has set up a meeting with Ford to discuss his idea for converting the Yeadon into a modern two or three-screen movie house with stadium seating. “A thriving neighborhood theater can make a world of difference to the borough,” says Wax. “I’ve seen buildings like this torn down and then everyone’s unhappy because it’s a big empty lot”. Ford says that borough does not have any immediate plans for the redevelopment of the site, but has agreed to meet with interested parties, such as Wax, to discuss options.

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Comments (5)

HowardBHaas on February 7, 2006 at 9:01 am

I’ve been assisting with this matter and having reviewed the reports, disagree. The facade of the Yeadon survives almost completely as Eberson designed it. The interior was primarily a simple Art Deco paint scheme of a rainbow of colors, which would have needed to be repainted anyway. This theater can still be saved!

As to rodents and mold, buildings aren’t demolished for those reasons! Those problems get addressed.

Adrian Fine of the National Trust also believes the building should be saved.

Of course, it is tragic that the building was secured since 2003 with a six foot fence. Gosh, nobody can jump over that to commit arson and damage a building, can they?

I urge you to patronize surviving moviehouses and urge your governments to ensure that closed ones- especially those owned by government, are properly secure.

Patsy on February 7, 2006 at 10:35 am

A very sad theatre news day for the folks of Yeadon and their art deco theatre. I hope an historical plaque is put there to remember that this theatre once existed at that location….imo, that’s the least they could do!

howell on February 7, 2006 at 6:25 pm

What a bunch of freakin crap….“closeing it for the good of the community” get real. I am restoring a closed theatre in Washington, N.J. and it had been down for 5 years with no heat and a leaking roof. Its coming back and there is always a way to preserve and restore.

With an achitect like Ebereson, someone should make sure they don’t take it down stupidly. Sounds like some political dealings are at work.

ryanwriter on February 8, 2006 at 3:50 pm

Howard, have you been into the Yeadon since the fire and seen the damage to the building?

HowardBHaas on February 8, 2006 at 3:55 pm

I’ve seen photos post-fire of the exterior and interior.

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