Center Theater

1638 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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The westernmost of Philadelphia’s Market Street grindhouses. The Center Theatre was opened in 1936. Near the end of its life it was specializing in kung-fu movies and calling itself the “Martial Arts Center” in its directory listings. I think it outlasted its neighbors (Fox Theatre, Milgram Theatre and Studio Theatre) but not by much; it was closed in 1985.

Contributed by RickB

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 18, 2005 at 7:35 am

When it was an RKO theater it ran double features and changed on Wed and Sunday’s. When RKO sold it, it became a porno house.

Oliver
Oliver on April 18, 2005 at 1:22 pm

It is funny that it outlasted the Fox and Milgram theatres because when I worked at the Milgram in the early 70’s, there was talk of the buildings west of the Milgram to 17th Street being torn down for an office complex, but in 1980 it was the Fox, Stage Door Cinema and Milgram that was torn down and the PNC Building put up, about 2-3 years, the rest of block was torn down for Liberty Place.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 21, 2005 at 2:05 pm

I have to admit that I did pay 99 cents to attend one of the Center Theater’s less stellar presentations in 1975 or thereabouts. Thankfully my mother does not own a computer.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 12, 2006 at 5:03 am

According to the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings site, the Center Theater was built in 1936 and the architects were Barney & Banwell.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 14, 2010 at 10:02 am

Architects should be updated per the preceding post.

bobc316
bobc316 on July 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

the center theatre was also called the BRUCE LEE CENTER

whimpy02
whimpy02 on December 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Some of my friends and I visited the Center when we were playing hookey from high school one day in 1975. The films were about the worst films possible to see. They were rip off movies. You thought you were gonna see hardcore porn but they were perverted, censored smut.

alps
alps on January 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm

This theater did show hard core porn, I guess in 1975, this was around the time I was in high school, my buddy and I saw “Sexual Freedom in Brooklyn” (soft core) and “The Birds and the Beads”(hard core).

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