Ardmore Theater

34 W. Lancaster Avenue,
Ardmore, PA 19003

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Luke_Staisiunas
Luke_Staisiunas on July 31, 2014 at 5:44 am

Does anyone know what happened to the organ? The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ says that it opened with an organ, which was rebuild into a 5/21 instrument by builder S.H. Barrington, who used a 5 manual console built by Gottfried.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on July 4, 2014 at 2:58 pm

All I can say is the SamEric chain should have never sold their theaters to United Artists. They closed almost all of the theaters they purchased in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. UGH

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Gym closing July 31 according to article online today’s Main Line Times- Over a decade after the Philadelphia Sports Club first made its home in the former Ardmore Theater on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, the high-end athletic facility will close its doors mid-summer.

Lisa Hufcut, media relations spokesperson with Town Sports International, LLC, parent company of PSC, confirmed the information: “Yes, the PSC Ardmore location will be closing on July 31,” Hufcut wrote in an email Wednesday evening, July 3. No further information on the future of the Ardmore facility or that of TSI’s other locations could be obtained prior to the long July 4 holiday weekend.

In addition to PSC in Philadelphia and its suburbs, TSI also operates clubs in New York (NYSC), Boston (BSC) and Washington (WSC).

According to the website cinematreasure.org which references a Main Line Times article, the former Ardmore Theater at 34 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, opened in 1926. It was designed by architect Clarence Woolmington in the Baux-Arts style. The theater’s use went from vaudeville to silent films to “talkies” and by 1941, it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management. It remained a movie theater until it was closed by United Artists in 2000.

The Lower Merion Conservancy put the theater on its 2001 top ten list of endangered buildings. Following its business model of repurposing closed and/or troubled historic movie theaters, PSC’s parent company, Town Sports International, took over the Ardmore Theater after trying unsuccessfully to acquire the Bryn Mawr Theater. That theater was purchased by a non-profit and saved as the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

In 2002, after TSI purchased and totally gutted the Ardmore Theater, it reopened as the Philadelphia Sports Club. The spacious, two-level Ardmore gym is one of several PSC locations: St. Davids and Chalfont are listed as suburban sites on mysportsclubs.com as well as Market Street, Rodin Place and Society Hill in the City of Philadelphia.

Attempts Wednesday to obtain comments from management at the Ardmore PSC location regarding the status of members, employees and the building’s future were unsuccessful. Main Line Media News was referred to Lisa Hufcut with the corporate office.

bobc316
bobc316 on March 11, 2011 at 11:59 am

what happend to ardmore gets me sick when i think about it. i saw them gutted this building totally gets me angry i do have seats from ardmore i had to say something called memory

bobc316
bobc316 on March 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

funco land was also a theatre more like vaudville closed when ardmore opened in 1926 i have an old post card when that theatre existed

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on February 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Also, shouldn’t the Ardmore be listed as a Twin Theatre, since it was, during the last 20 years, listed as either “Eric Ardmore Twin Theatre” and “United Atists Ardmore Twin Theatre”

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on February 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

The Ardmore Theatre has had 3 different marquees. The final marquee was installed around 1940, and had the name “ARDMORE” on the top of the marquee, until around 1977,when it was replaced by “ERIC”.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Here is a 1983 photo when it was the Eric:
http://tinyurl.com/qjkxbs

BigK01
BigK01 on February 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm

So sad to see this theater go. I remember going to midnight showings here with friends and having the entire theater to ourselves.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on December 1, 2005 at 2:16 am

There are no plans to restore the Bryn Mawr as a single screen theater. There are a few interior architectural details one can see on the interior under current operation, which is better than the Ardmore as a health club for sure. The Ardmore was totally gutted inside.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on November 30, 2005 at 6:45 pm

To clarify, the former Stanley Warner’s Ardmore, later known as RKO Stanley Warner’s Ardmore Theatre, was acquired by Sameric Theatres between 1977 and 1979, and was twinned. The United Artists Ardmore Twin Theatre, as well as the United Artist Bryn Mawr Twin Theatre, closed in August 17, 2000. Thankfully today, the Bryn Mawr lives on as the Bryn Mawr Film Institude, and will be restored back to it’s glory when it open as the Seville Theatre. The same can’t be said for the Ardmore.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on August 7, 2005 at 10:04 pm

Thankfully, Philadelphia Sports Clubs/Town sports never took over the Bryn Mawr theatre. The former Goldman’s-Budco-AMC-United Artists Bryn Mawr Twin Theatre is now The Bryn Mawr Film Institude, and the theatre is being restored.

The same can’t be said for the former RKO Stanley Warner-Eric-United Artists Ardmore Twin Theatre.

teecee
teecee on July 12, 2005 at 8:32 am

Mar. 1—ARDMORE, Pa.—StairMasters and treadmills have replaced the projector that once showed the first “talkies.”

Lockers and showers now stand where a stage once featured vaudeville acts.

After a five-month renovation that included gutting its run-down Beaux Arts interior, a branch of the high-end Philadelphia Sports Clubs will open today in the antique Ardmore Theater, marking the 21st-century reincarnation of a landmark built during Jazz Age opulence.

Although the old Ardmore is the first 1920s movie theater occupied by the health-club chain, Philadelphia Sports Clubs' parent company — Town Sports International — has tracked the status of about 100 one- and two-screen theaters in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and Boston over the last two years.

“We really looked at every [small] theater that existed in the Philadelphia market,” said John Smallwood, development manager for Manhattan-based Town Sports, the nation’s third-largest fitness-club chain. Of those theaters, Smallwood picked about a dozen. Then, “we went to each owner and said: ‘If you’re planning on closing, we’d be interested.’ ”

Smallwood said Town Sports still wants to take over the 75-year-old Bryn Mawr Theater, even though Lower Merion rejected its plans last year. Smallwood said Town Sports will appeal the decision to the township’s Zoning Hearing Board.

Although the Bryn Mawr Theater is less than two miles down Lancaster Avenue from the Ardmore Theater, Smallwood said, industry figures suggest that the Main Line — and the Philadelphia area in general — is underserved by fitness clubs and could sustain two gyms that close together.

Often unprofitable, struggling small theaters represent “an opportunity for our company to get the space we’re seeking in some difficult markets,” Smallwood said. “Someone’s coal is someone else’s gold.”

Featuring an ornate facade with Grecian urns, balustrade and Palladian window, the Ardmore Theater was one of about a half-dozen movie palaces built along the Main Line before the Depression.

In addition to the theater in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, three continue to show films: the Anthony Wayne Cinema in Wayne, Delaware County; and the Narberth Theater and Bala Theater in Bala Cynwyd, both in Montgomery County.

Smallwood would not say whether any of these theaters is among the dozen he is pursuing in the area. He did say his company has looked at the theaters in Wayne, Narberth and Bala Cynwyd.

Built between 1925 and 1926, the Ardmore “somehow survived all manner of changes: talkies, Technicolor, 3-D, big screen, stereo sound, surround sound, and even multiplexing,” read the theater’s description from the Lower Merion Conservancy’s 2001 list of the township’s “Top Ten” threatened historical buildings.

But in August 2000, United Artists closed the Ardmore and Bryn Mawr Theaters, unable to compete with the plushy, high-tech amenities of the megaplex. Private investors are temporarily leasing the Bryn Mawr theater to keep showing films.

Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Lower Merion Conservancy, said he wanted a community center to occupy the Ardmore site. But he said Town Sports, which contacted the theater’s owner the day after United Artists pulled out, moved in so quickly that center advocates did not have time to build support. “The shame is the renovation of the theater to a gym means that it’s never going to be a theater again,” Weilbacher said. “It’s not a very gentle use of the building.”

In fact, while the developers retained the classical-revival facade and original vaulted entryway, the gym’s interior is more of a tribute to drywall and drop-down ceilings. “There’s no attempt to take off on the theater,” Smallwood said over the sounds of last-minute sawing and hammering in the 24,000-square-foot building.

“That’s always the quandary we have when we take over a building with architectural details,” Smallwood said. “The purist in us would like to keep all the architectural details.”

But, ultimately, preservation cannot compete with the importance of corporate branding: Town Sports wants a “homogenized” appearance — “just like McDonald’s” — in each of its company’s 120 East Coast clubs, Smallwood said.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), Mar 01, 2002
Item: 2W63317452585

teecee
teecee on May 13, 2005 at 11:06 am

Mikeoaklandpark:
check on this link. Perhaps the Eric is now Partyland or the Farmers' market.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 18, 2005 at 7:39 am

anybody know what happened to the Eric Wynwood right down the road from the Ardmore?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 17, 2005 at 9:45 am

Correction: my photo above was in January, 2004, not 2001, if that makes any difference.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 17, 2005 at 7:20 am

Listed in the Film Daily Yearbook,1941 as being operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management with a seating capacity of 1,424.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 17, 2005 at 6:44 am

Here is a photo of the Ardmore I took in January, 2001.