Vernon Theatre

5508 Germantown Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19144

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Vernon Theatre

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The Germantown Theatre (later the Vernon Theatre), formerly located at 5508 Germantown Avenue, just above School House Lane, was one of Germantown’s earliest theatres. It had 1,168 seats and was built at a cost of $50,000. When built in 1910, it was dubbed “The Pride of Germantown”. This was an all-purpose theatre used for stage shows, stock productions and movies. Like most theatres built back in the early days, it also had an organ that was used to entertain between shows and at intermission. This theatre was distinctive in its ornate exterior facade arch, which was also duplicated inside.

By 1941, the Germantown Theatre had been renamed Vernon Theatre and used solely for movies, operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. It was purchased and closed in 1953 with the intent to convert it into stores and offices. Going off of memory, I think it is now a parking lot. This theatre was before my time but anybody here recall it?

Contributed by DennisMcG

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

DennisMcG
DennisMcG on June 5, 2006 at 5:49 am

This is one that the Philadelphia Architects & Building site is wrong on. This was a large theater built as the Germantown Theatre and the early use was primarily stage shows and vaudeville. I have early press notices from the opening and onward that shows it was an 1,800 seat theatre. Also, people from Germantown are recalling it as the Vernon back in the 1940s. Not sure when it converted over from the Germantown to the Vernon, but it was sooner then 1950. The theatre closed in 1951.

DennisMcG
DennisMcG on June 15, 2006 at 10:41 am

I have a picture of the Germantown Theatre (before it was the Vernon)and will upload it once the photo feature is restored here.

DennisMcG
DennisMcG on September 2, 2006 at 5:24 pm

I was born and raised in Germantown. This theatre closed before my time. Curious about it though. Anybody remember what it looked like inside? Email me at or post what you remember here. Thanks.

dodgerg
dodgerg on October 30, 2006 at 3:02 pm

In the mid to late 1940s, my parents used to take me into Germantown on Friday or Saturday nights for dinner and a movie. We would often eat at Horn & Hardart’s Automat on Germantown Ave.(my favorite), or a place called, I think, the “Green Street Tavern”, or “Lackies”. For a special dinner we would sometimes go to the more expensive “Imhof"s” on Chelton Ave.. After dinner we would go to one of the three nearby movie theaters: the “Orpheum” on Chelton Ave; the “Vernon” on Germantown Ave.; or the smallest of the three, the “Band Box” on a little side street off Germantown Ave. I remember seeing “Song of the South” at the Orpheum — which came out in 1946. I hope this info is helpful in dating these wonderful old movie houses.

dodgerg
dodgerg on October 30, 2006 at 3:18 pm

I must augment my previous posting about those “three nearby theaters” in 1940s Germantown. There were actually four. I almost forgot about the “Colonial”, one of the larger theaters, on Germantown Ave.

acer42
acer42 on July 18, 2007 at 8:40 pm

On page 47 of the Vestal Press’s reprint of the Wurlitzer Unit Organ brochure, there is a fine photo of the Germantown Theatre’s interior (stage view).

Fitlergrad
Fitlergrad on October 19, 2008 at 9:04 pm

I attended the “Grand Opening” of the refurbished Vernon Theater, formerly the Germantown. The movie that played was Brigham Young. So we can pretty well set 1941 as the beginning date for the Vernon.

dodgerg
dodgerg on October 20, 2008 at 2:49 am

Wow. Thank you Steltz.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 14, 2014 at 2:47 am

From “Theatres of Germantown” — by Dennis McGlinchey
Germantown Theatre / Vernon Theatre:

“ … At some point in the 1930s, the theatre was remodeled and re-opened as the Vernon Theatre. The seating capacity was reduced from 1,800 to 1,168 seats. … ”

This timespan is the closest I can come to when the name was changed. Until someone is able to provide a more definitive date, “circa 1930s” will have to suffice. I may be able to get a closer date from Philadelphia’s L & I. If so, I’ll share.

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