Uptown Theatre

2240-2248 N. Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19132

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Uptown Theatre, Philadelphia - Main Floor Plan

The Uptown Theatre was opened February 16, 1929 as a spectacular Art Deco style movie palace for the Stanley Theatres/Warner Bros. chain. Its opening movie was the Warner Bros. talkie “On Trial” starring Pauline Frederick. The Kimball theatre organ was played by organist Jos. K. Glasner. Throughout its life it catered to a mainly African-American audience.

Live R&B shows were staged at the Uptown Theatre from 1958 to 1972, and among the performers appearing on stage were Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, The Intruders, the Delfonics, the Mad Lads, Jerry Butler, Billy Stewart, Pattie LaBelle & the Bluebells, The Manhattans, Earth, Wind & Fire, the O'Jays, The Jackson Five, The Stylistics, Dee Dee Sharp, Chubby Checker, Martha & the Vandellas and The Temptations. It was last used as a church but they vacated the building in 2003.

The Uptown Theatre was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1982. Renovation and restoration is planned, and a reopening to public use is envisaged in the near future.

Contributed by George Quirk

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

airgrabber
airgrabber on January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Uptown Theater marquee lighting ceremony. Skip to the 6:00 mark for the action shots.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGRkNp_FPSQ

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on January 18, 2012 at 7:47 am

Not much of a lighting.

RickB
RickB on February 16, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hidden City Philadelphia story on “accidental preservationists” contains a short profile of Linda Richardson, founder of the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation, as well as an interior picture of the theater.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on June 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

This theater was closed and reborn in the late 70’s early 80’s.

Uptowngirl
Uptowngirl on August 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I am a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia, and I just want fans of the Uptown Theater to know about my new book, “Joy Ride! The Stars and Stories of Philly’s Famous Uptown Theater,” which is the behind-the-scenes, inside story of the spectacular R&B shows produced at the theater by broadcast icon Georgie Woods from 1958 to 1972. The book features a Foreword by music mogul Kenny Gamble, as well as personal memories by 10 additional Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. There are dozens of rare and one-of-a-kind photos, as well as an update on the restoration of the theater. “Joy Ride!The Stars and Stories of Philly’s Famous Uptown Theater” is available at Barnes & Nobles stores worldwide, and online at bn.com, Amazon.com and Xlibris.com.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Opened on February 16th, 1929. Grand opening ad at http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201929/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201929%20-%202195.pdf

and in the photo section

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 20, 2016 at 7:58 am

1960’s photo added courtesy of the Old Images of Philadelphia Facebook page.

spectrum
spectrum on April 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Website down; the restoration may have stalled.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Below is the website for the Uptown Entertainment Development Corporation that works, via the Friends of the Philadelphia Uptown Theater Facebook page. Below that is a link to their page.

http://www.philadelphiauptowntheater.org/

https://www.facebook.com/uptowntheaterphilly/

spectrum
spectrum on August 2, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Link to January 2020 article with some updates!

The Uptown was scheduled to enter the final phase of renovation sometime in 2020, with renovations completed and reopening scheduled for 2022.

It was not clear exactly how much renovation has been completed so far, but at least some has.

The project has taken awhile because of delays in securing full funding. A capital campaign had raised $10,000,000 and there were two grants bringing the total to about twelve million.

Good to see that renovation has made considerable progress and that an opening date has been set!

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