6054 Castor Avenue,
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Previously operated by: A.M. Ellis Theaters Co,
Architects: David Supowitz
Functions: Medical Center
Styles: Streamline Moderne
News About This Theater
- Sep 7, 2007 — TV news story on AMC Orleans closure & nearby Philadelphia cinemas
- Mar 14, 2006 — Memories of Philadelphia's Benner Theater
The Benner Theatre opened January 21, 1942 with 700 seats, all on a single floor. The attractive auditorium had highly decorative murals on the side-walls. By 1950 it was operated by the A.M. Ellis Theaters Co. chain. It closed in November 1985.
By 2022 the front of the building and its lobby had been demolished and a new-build contains a medical center. The auditorium at the rear still stands.
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Recent comments (view all 20 comments)
shown last night on Fox TV Channel 29 news as an office building now, part of story on closure of AMC Orleans 8:
The Benner, Tyson, Erlen, Crest and Castor were all run by A.M. Ellis Theaters of Philadelphia in the early eighties. General manager was Martin Ellis. I had a girlfriend in NE Philly at that time and went to most of these. I don’t remember the Erlen, though. We also spent a lot of time at the Orleans 8 and the GCC Northeast.
I grew up at the corner of Frontenac and Benner in the 1950’s and each Saturday would be movie day for my pals and myself. Kids' matinees were 25 cents (evening adult admission was 75 cents).
Kids' shows were typically a few cartoons, a serial and a Western, but some Saturdays featured special all-cartoon shows. There were on-stage yo-yo demonstrations and contests sponsored by the two big yo-yo companies, Cheerio and Duncan.
My first real date was with a girl on my
named Sheila. We were both around 10 at the time and our parents let us go to the movies together – at night, yet – and we walked there and back.
Saw lots of great movies there; I especially remember the horror flicks like ‘Attack Of The Crab Monsters’ and great movies like ‘Three Coins In The Fountain’, ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’ and ‘G.I. Joe’ and remember the huge lobby and the handsomely-decorated theater quite well, considering that I left Philly 50 years ago :–))
As a 15-year old I was “fired” by the Benner’s manager, replete with his red sport coat, for failing to open the exit door at a 9 PM intermission. My “pass” was torn asunder! I vowed never to be fired again: I later spent 40 years at The Inquirer and never missed a day! Bill White of nearby Lardner Street.
There seems to be a discrepancy on the number of seats that the Benner Theatre had. On the heading, it states 450 seats while under the photo George Quirk states that the theatre opened in early-1942 with 700 seats, all on a single floor. Does anyone know for sure?
Alan: Such discrepancies often arise from the fact that old theaters are likely to be reseated at some point in their history, reducing their original capacity in order to provide more leg room and, sometimes, wider seats. But then, both figures might come from The Film Daily Yearbook, which is not always the most reliable source, but it is often the only source we’ve got. Personally, looking at the size of the auditorium in Google’s satellite view, I’d have guessed that this house opened with more than 700 seats.
I am now painting a watercolor (10"14") of the Benner as of the night little me was “fired”. Living on Lardner, McKinley Sts. it was my favorite theater. When finished, you may have a copy at any copying/postage cost. Bill White .
The street address given for the Benner, 6056 Castor Avenue, is incorrect! During the Benner days, 6056 was an Oriental business, part of the three attached stores (6056, 6058 & 6060 Castor Ave.) on the end of the block that are connected to the former theater. The correct address for the Benner Theatre is 6052-54 Castor Avenue.
January 21st, 1942 grand opening ad in photo section. Ad says 6054 Castor Av, TheALAN.
Does anyone know the last movie that played there?