49 Haddon Avenue,
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Westmont Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Milgram Theaters, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Architects: William Harold Lee, William Wrifford
Previous Names: Milgram Theatre
- Eric Westmont Theatre
- Collingswood Theatre
- Collingswood M. P. Theatre
- Garden State Drive-In
- Ritz Theatre Company
News About This Theater
- Aug 22, 2007 — A tribute to South Jersey movie houses
The 1,600-seat Westmont Theatre opened on September 5, 1927 with Lon Chaney in “The Unknown” and 5-acts of vaudeville. It was designed by architect William Wrifford. Every Sunday a 120-piece orchestra performed along with what may have been the largest organ in New Jersey at the time. It cost $25,000 and was manufactured by the Lenoir Organ Company of Philadelphia, headed by Benjamin F. Lenoir. The opening organist was Monroe Hilbert.
By 1941 the Westmont Theatre had been taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was listed as (Closed). The theatre remained closed during World War II. In 1948 it was remodeled in an Art Deco style to the plans of architect William Harold Lee. It reopened in 1949 as a 1,200-seat first-run movie house.
In the 1950’s the theatre became part of the Milgram Theaters Inc. chain.
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 theatres in the Philadelphia area. Unfortunately, this Posel house only lasted until 1986.
The theatre was bought by the township in 2000 for $250,000.
Today, the theatre 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’. It was converted into a Planet Fitness gymnasium in 2016.
The Westmont Theatre was listed on the New Jersey Registry of Historic Places on July 8, 2010.
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Recent comments (view all 91 comments)
Results of the study are in: restoration would run about $3.1 million. Philadelphia Inquirer column here.
A buyer, perhaps—but for what use? Philadelphia Inquirer story here.
The latest idea: Planet Fitness. Philly.com story here.
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.
Philly.com story on downtown Westmont includes a picture of the theater. Planet Fitness has moved in, keeping the marquee but apparently changing the colors.
65 years ago Speilberg went to see his first movie that made him want to be a director. 35 years ago next Sunday marks the release of ET. Did this movie play at this theater?
Sorry, Moviebuff 82, E. T. Did not open at the Westmount, Three others in South Jersey.
This opened on September 5th, 1927. Westmount theatre opening Mon, Sep 5, 1927 – 7 · Courier-Post (Camden, Camden, New Jersey, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
This is where I saw SONG OF THE SOUTH in 1986, its last release.
The 2022 Oscar-Nominated “The Fablemans” references Steven Spielberg’s visits to this theatre in his youth.
Article in today’s PhillyVoice
Camden County unveils historical marker where Steven Spielberg discovered his love for cinema