Benn Theatre

6316 Woodland Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19142

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Benn Theater

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Opened on September 1, 1923, the Benn Theatre was later renovated in 1929. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and later by RKO Stanley-Warner. It was closed in 1975.

Contributed by George Quirk

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

needb
needb on September 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

This theater was owned by my grandfather & great grandfather, Abraham Benn & Marcus Benn. My mom used to have movie parties there… I believe the Benner and the Alan were also part of that group. My Avitar is Alan & Esther Benn

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

According to the November 18, 1922, issue of The American Contractor, the Philip Halbach Company was the construction firm that built this theater. The item said that the theater was designed by H. C. Hodgons, Inc., 130 S. 15th st., but I can’t find any references to such a company on the Internet, nor any variant of the name Hodgons (Hodgson, Hodgdon, Hodgins.) It might have been a mistake. The item did give the name of the owner as Marcus A. Bonn instead of the correct Marcus Benn. Those old trade journals were full of typos.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 13, 2014 at 1:56 am

Close but the spelling is off by one letter on each.

The theatre was designed and built by the Philip Haibach Contracting Company — architects and builders.

Harvey Childs Hodgens and Albert Douglas Hill were architects that comprised the firm of Hodgens & Hill. The firm specialized in the design of theatres.

It appears that the two firms collaborated on the design of the Benn Theatre.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 13, 2014 at 3:17 am

A Dynamic Dollar & Up store now lives where the Jupiter store once did. The entrance to the theatre itself is shuttered. The marquee is still present but is rapidly deteriorating. The signage is gone now. And the upper façade is covered with weathered plywood. The past 39 years have not been kind to ol' Benn!

rivest266
rivest266 on May 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Small grand opening ad from September 1st, 1923 at http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201923/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201923%20-%206906.pdf

Also in the photo section.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Friel on March 28, 2004 at 10:35 pm A notable fact concerning one of Benn’s neighbors. W C Field was born in a house next to the Benn Theatre. … … … … … … … … … . . The above comment is incorrect. The following contains the correct information:
“William Claude Dukenfield was born Jan. 29, 1880 in Darby, Pennsylvania, just across the Philadelphia city line.”
Source — W. C. Fields © 1999 – 2006 John F. Crowley

cydney
cydney on January 6, 2015 at 6:31 pm

I would love to chat with needb. I grew up in Southwest Philadelphia and the Benn was my escape into a world of animation and wonder. If needb could help, I would love to find out if a record was kept of all the movies played at the Benn. There is a film as I saw as I child that absolutely captivated me and left me in complete awe. If I can find the title of that film, I would be overjoyed.

PhillyNative
PhillyNative on December 12, 2015 at 6:04 am

I remember many kiddie double feature matinees at the old Benn. Standard format was a film, some cartoons, then a second film. When it was over, I would go to the payphone in the storage closet (the dial had a “Z” at “Operator”) to call my parents to pick me up. Then, the Benn was threadbare but clean. The upstairs bathrooms had a strange corridor arrangement that had me wordering if it had a balcony at one time. If it did it was renovated over long before my day.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm

What I remember is when one of the double features was in scope they kept the masking open even for the film that was flat. If both films were flat the masking was closed.

markp
markp on December 14, 2015 at 4:26 am

In my early days as a projectionist, I worked in some older theatres that we did the same thing. It was because the theatres did not install masking motors so the projectionist could operate it from the booth.

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