291 N. Keswick Avenue,
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The Keswick Theatre is in Glenside, a Montgomery County suburb of Philadelphia. The theatre was designed in a Tudor Revival style by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer, who also designed the Philadelphia Art Museum. A private opening on Christmas 1928 was held for the Kiwanis Follies. The Keswick Theatre opened to the public on December 27, 1928, with vaudeville and the silent version of the Warner Bros. movie “Glorious Betsy” starring Dolores Costello, which also had a sound on disc version. The theatre was wired for sound, but the equipment was not yet ready.
The 1,366-seat Keswick Theatre played host to everyone from Paul Robeson to the best big-budget films of the day. In 1955, the theatre was remodelled to host CinemaScope films.
In the Spring 1980 the theatre closed, and demolition loomed. Community activists organized a nonprofit organization to save the theatre, and operated the theatre with live shows from 1981 to December 1985, when it closed again.
The Keswick Theatre reopened in March 1988 under private ownership, with its current incarnation, as a place to see a wildly diverse array of talent. The acoustically luscious theatre was fully refurbished in 1994.
The original theatre pipe organ was an Aeolian Organ. The current organ is a 1,700 pipe Moller Theatre Organ, originally installed in 1928 in the Sedgwick Theatre in Philadelphia.
The Keswick Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Philadelphia Magazine chose the Keswick Theatre as ‘Concert Venue of the Year’ for its ‘Best of Philly’ issue. In 2004, an Arcadia paperback book on the Keswick Theatre was published, written by Judith Katherine Herbst.
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