Uptown Theatre

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

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Uptown Theatre, Philadelphia - Main Floor Plan

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 36 comments)

spectrum on February 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Good news in the Philadelphia Inquirer article above. The group working to save the theater has raised enough money to do the first phase of renovation – restoration of the exterior and the office portion in front. Rental income from the offices will help raise the $5.5 million needed to complete phase II – the auditorium. They’re on the right track!

RickB on April 2, 2011 at 6:45 am

Former Motown singer Kim Weston talks a little about the Uptown in this Philadelphia Inquirer story. Clicking on “View images” under the picture leads to a 1972 photo of the Uptown and a vintage ad for a Georgie Woods-presented show at the theater.

RickB on April 4, 2011 at 4:38 am

Another Uptown story here, but nothing much new in it.

PHILLYTOM on December 10, 2011 at 10:07 am

There are no real plans for the Uptown, just scams and hustlers trying to get public money . This place will stand until someone with enough insurance money will have it burned down as they did with most of the historic buildings in north philadelphia.

airgrabber on January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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


JohnMessick on January 18, 2012 at 7:47 am

Not much of a lighting.

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 on June 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

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

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 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

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