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Photos I took in August 2006,
I am copying below from the “News” section Gary Parks comments. He mailed me a CD and with his consent, I have posted photos on my flickr gallery so everyone can see the TWO layers of movie theater history present at the Metro. The auditorium has the 1941 murals on view, and the 1924 columns hidden. Apparently, in 1998, the rehab did the reverse with the lobby, bringing it back to original 1924 design rather than the 1941 decoration. The photos show what you don’t see.
Being in Philadelphia, I haven’t visited since 1997, so if I am incorrect, Gary or others can advise. Ok, here’s the first of the photos that Gary sent me, the others follow:
Firstoff, a little historic correction: The theatre was designed by James and Merrit Reid. The office of Timothy Pflueger did the 1941 remodel, which is mainly what one sees today in the auditorium. The vertical sign dates from this time, but the marquee dates from an earlier and more lighthanded redecoration, as does the deco sunburst pattern you see today on the inner lobby ceiling once you enter.
The plasterwork in the outer and inner lobbies is mostly from 1924. The paintwork on the outer lobby ceiling is 1924, save for some minor embellishments by artist Kelly Cool during the 1998 refurbishing. She also did the arched murals which are on either side as you proceed from the outer to inner lobby.
The lobby as remodeled by Pflueger no longer exists, having been totally removed during the 1998 refurbishing, at which time the original 1924 lobby was largely restored, with some sympathetic updating.
The auditorium features murals by the Heinsbergen decorating firm. These date from Pflueger’s remodeling. The ceiling, save for the 1998 acoustical panels, chandeliers and 1941 paint, is from 1924.
Behind the draped and plastered angled walls on either side of the screen are hidden extensive intact remnants if the 1924 auditorium. These include large Ionic columns surmounted by eagles clutching shields, and arched niches containing urns and long-disconnected cove lighting. The organ chambers, though empty, are intact, and their openwork grilles, though slightly damaged, are largely extant.
I was one of the historical advisors to the 1998 renovation, and was a guest at the subsequent Grand Reopening. I would love to see the Metro escape demolition, even if it meant only a partial retention of the building. While preserving the building intact would be my first choice, even a reuse of the building’s shell, with a restoration of the facade’s key decorative elements is preferable to complete demolition, which will likely give birth to yet another example of slavish, tired devotion to the long-outdated and academically-loved but (usually) publically-loathed Bauhaus style, or worse, a poorly proportioned attempt at historicism such as is so common today—a style best described as “Lego Mediterranean.”
All this being said, I am not currently in a position to actively help in the fight to save the Metro—professional and preexisting volunteer obligations preclude this—but I would be more than happy to share copies of the photos I took in 1998 of the 1924 architectural features which exist behind the 1941 walls, as well as extensive knowledge of theatres designed by Reid Bros., having been closely involved with the ongoing preservation and restoration efforts at the Reid-designed Golden State Theatre in Monterey, as well as a little aid in the efforts to save San Francisco’s Harding Theatre.
posted by Gary Parks on Sep 19, 2006 at 1:12pm
Gary Parks mailed me a CD of photos that he refers to above, and I have posted them with his consent at my flickr gallery,
Here’s the seat counts posted on signs outside each auditorium in half the theater. Maybe next time I get admitted to the other half, I will compile that list, too.
At every show, movie theaters should instruct moviegoers to turn off their cell phones & not play with gadgets like text emailing. The text emailers do light up the theaters in an annoying way, disruptive to watching the films. Neither the police nor their parents need be called to remove violators- they can simply be escorted out by ushers (unless they refuse to leave).
That said, multiplexes have so many auditoriums they could take one film and in one auditorium actually invite audience participation. Before entering the multiplex, moviegoers would know that ONE auditorium is for those who want to talk, communicate with each other via text emailing, and so forth. They could enjoy themselves there!
Photos can’t be posted here, but can be linked from other sites, such as the free flickr site or other sites people use.
I meant to write that “Philadelphia cannot lose…..” as in we cannot afford to lose!
Friends of the Boyd continue to volunteer to ensure the Boyd will be restored and reopened. We thank people for their ongoing support, and urge all to visit our website, www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org
Philadelphia can lose its last surviving downtown movie palace, a great Art Deco showplace!
I am also going to 2nd the comment for people to PLEASE take interior photos, especially of the auditorium and murals and details revealed after the restoration, and link those photos to the Metro’s page on this website. I’ve wanted for awhile to see the restored interior, but didn’t get out there. I almost did a year ago, but decided to vacation elsewhere. There are black & white photos of the interior decades ago on the theater’s page, but they aren’t in color and I don’t know how much of that decoration was exposed or restored.
That’s terrible. I saw a movie there in 1997 when other single screen theaters were still open, and before the Metro’s restoration. This is one the San Francisco movie theater activists should consider fighting for.
No, it isn’t time to go all pessimistic. We need to ensure Philadelphia’s sole surviving downtown movie palace survives, is restored, and is restored. Visit www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org for more updates.
I reviewed the file in the theater collection at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. The Arcadia theater apparently was built with the 2 structures on each side that were identical to each other. The one on the east survives. The one on the west had, at least, its facade removed so the theater facade could be way bigger. There were interior changes, too, including expansion of the theater lobby.
If the Uptown ceases to show movies, that would be tragic! For decades it has been the greatest theater to see movies on the East Coast!
My photo link was previously linked to this page. I don’t know why it went missing:
Antitrust concerns upon merger seemed to be ensuring competition, but there won’t be competition in much of Washington D.C. (outside of downtown-Union Station) won’t exist if the theater closes and AMC retains Mazza Gallerie and Georgetown.
Chestnut Street is not muli-laned Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, but it has long been one of Philadelphia’s main streets (along with Market Street, and Broad Street). Philadelphians don’t consider it a small side street, at all. There will be adequate parking nearby, and mass transit connections are great.
MikeRadio, have you ever been to the Uptown?
Regarding the Tivoli, you might want to read a bit about the effects of 1960’s racial rioting in American cities.
3 photos from today
Historic photo from early 20th Century:
The above list of posters has no relevancy to the Chelsea West page.
What is relevant is that in about the same time period Cineplex Odeon was turning this 3 screener into a very nice 2 screener, they renovated the Beekman (since demolished) in New York, and in Washington D.C. the Cinema (since closed & gutted) and Uptown. They didn’t renovate the Avalon in D.C, which after Loews departed, was saved & renovated by neighbors. I miss Cineplex Odeon.
I meant another famous “rent free” place now closed but still there. I have practiced many fields of law.
I agree there are too many lawyers, though I don’t mind your being one. You at least care about something else, i.e. historic moviehouses. I usually encourage competition to move to Florida.
I am a lawyer, so when I put an “s” on it, it’s because I am starting to spell Holmesburg due to a facility that used to provide “rent free housing” to clients in the past. That place is more locally famous than a theater that closed half a century ago.
Presumably you are telling the public rather than me who William Penn was.
If you were paid by the word, you’d have the funding….
You do go so off point with all the politics, taxes, etc…
Did the Mayfair reopen yet, as a bank? Is that going to use the former auditorium space?
Thanks for sharing the interesting article.
I hope you can post the videotape of the Mayfair online and Dan can find photos.