Westmont Theatre

49 Haddon Avenue,
Westmont, NJ 08108

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Westmont Theatre

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The 1,600-seat Westmont Theater opened in 1927 and began showing silent films. Every Sunday a 120-piece orchestra performed along with what may have been the largest organ in New Jersey at the time.

By 1941 the Westmont Theater had been taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was listed as (Closed). The theatre remained closed during World War II, but reopened in 1949 when it was renovated into a 1,200-seat first-run movie house.

The theater was part of the Milgram chain and was then known as the Westmont Theatre.

According to the Courier-News, “Steven Spielberg, who lived in Haddon Township and attended Edison Elementary School in Haddon Township when his father worked at RCA in Camden, credits seeing "The Greatest Show on Earth” at the Westmont Theatre in 1952 at age five as what inspired him to become a director."

The Westmont Theatre closed in 1979 and reopened as a twin later that year.

It was later purchased by Raymond Posel, who owned/owns a number of theaters in the Philly area. Unfortunately, this Posel house only lasted until 1986.

The theater was bought by the township in 2000 for $250,000.

Today, the theater seats only 300 — the balcony, hidden by a false ceiling, is used to store costumes.

The February 27, 2008 Courier-Post reported that Haddon Township is looking for a new developer to reopen the Westmont Theatre. There is also concern about the marquee, which may be removed.

In July 2012, the nonprofit Friends of the Westmont were encouraged by a report commissioned by Haddon Township, by DF Gibbons Architects of New York City, which determined that it would cost $3.1 million to refurbish and restore the Westmont Theatre so it would be ‘close to its original state’.

The Westmont Theatre was listed on the New Jersey Registry of Historic Places on July 8, 2010.

Contributed by David Mullins

Recent comments (view all 85 comments)

CamdenNT on June 19, 2009 at 10:34 am

Some Recent Stories and Links of Interest Concerning The Westmont

Saving The Westmont (Film Threat Magazine/site) View link
Additionally this story was picked up by Google News. NCW and Cinema Treasures mentioned in Philadelphia Daily News: View link
Cafe Press Items: tp://www.cafepress.com/WestmontTheatre. Haddon Township Blog Listing: http://haddontwp.wordpress.com/

CSWalczak on December 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

This article mentions the Westmont and recent moves in the direction of its possible revitalization: View link

HistoryGuy on December 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

Very exciting to see that kind of publicity, looking at the theatre as part of a big picture. This is a grass roots effort making great strides. Thanks to all who have contributed in any way with advice, virual or even moral support. Continue w/ timely news & show of support. Visit our sites—Only a fraction of the info gets posted here:
Facebook [ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=63366902867# ]
Blog [ http://westmonttheatre.wordpress.com/ ]

Ace531 on December 29, 2009 at 3:31 am

When I was a kid, I lived about 5/6 blocks down the street from the theater. I still remember those Sat afternoon SF double features with 6/8 cartoons and the latest episode of Flash Gordon, Tarzan or someone. All for less than a dollar as I recall.

As a grownup, I was around when the split the theater to make it a twin and in fact the last movie I saw there was Murphy’s Romance with James Garner and Sally Field in 1985 or 1986. Probably one of the last movies they screened. Saw it with my wife and I think there were a total of 5 paying customers besides the 2 employees who also watched it.

There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Dec 28th about future plans for the theater.
View link

LeifJonker on July 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Saw ALTERED STATES, EXCALIBUR, ANDY WARHOL’S FRANKENSTEIN in 3-D, COMING AT YA in 3-D, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS in 3-D and the original THE EVIL DEAD at the Westmont. Had to go through HALLOWEEN producer Debra Hill’s hometown of Haddonfield, NJ to get there.

RickB on May 6, 2011 at 3:57 am

A $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust “will help pay for the first comprehensive study of the physical condition and redevelopment potential” of the theater. Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

RickB on July 31, 2012 at 3:28 am

Results of the study are in: restoration would run about $3.1 million. Philadelphia Inquirer column here.

RickB on July 12, 2013 at 3:45 am

A buyer, perhaps—but for what use? Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

RickB on August 22, 2014 at 3:34 am

The latest idea: Planet Fitness. Philly.com story here.

RickB on August 22, 2014 at 4:08 am

It’s unfortunate that nobody seems to have gotten a really good color nighttime picture of this theater, as the marquee has pink and green neon and is huge for a suburban house. This one is all I could find.

The original marquee wasn’t too shabby either.

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