Hiway Theatre

212 Old York Road,
Jenkintown, PA 19046

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12-31-11

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Built in 1913 this was originally known as the Jenkintown Auditorium and was designed by architect Albert F. Schenck. In 1925 the theatre was remodeled by Philadelphia architect William H. Lee, it was outfitted to show silent films and renamed the Embassy Theatre.

In 1936, both the exterior and interior was remodeled to the plans of architect William E. Groben and it was renamed the York Road Theatre, with a seating capacity given as 600. In 1940, it was taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was renamed the Hiway Theatre. By 1950, the seating capacity had been slightly reduced to 540.

In the 1960’s, local movie exhibitor William Goldman operated and refurbished the Hiway Theatre. In 1985, Irwin Merlin purchased the Hiway Theatre. He renamed it Merlin Theatre in 1988, when he remodeled the theatre. In 1999, Philadelphia attorney Charles Peruto Jr. purchased the theatre and renamed it after his son, the Chas III Theatre.

In 2003 it was purchased by local residents whose sole purpose was to preserve and protect this historic structure. It now operates as a non-profit showing first run, independent and foreign films.

Since November of 2003, the theatre has once again been known as the Hiway Theatre. About two million dollars worth of renovations and restorations were completed in 2006, which reduced the seating capacity in the auditorium from 540 down to 330. The movie screen is nicely sized at 28 feet wide for ‘scope films. On December 27, 2011, a 19 foot tall replica Art Moderne style vertical sign was installed, having been made by Bartush Signs. Replacing the original vertical sign that was in place from 1940 until the 1980’s, the new neon tower is burgundy with yellow letters, antique gold neon, and aluminium trim. On May 20, 2013, the nonprofit Renew Theatres (which manages nearby Ambler Theatre and Doylestown’s County Theatre) is taking over management, though the Hiway Theatre will continue to have its own board of directors.

Contributed by Jeff Landis, George Quirk

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

TheaterBuff1
TheaterBuff1 on January 9, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Here’s a great article about the Hiway Theatre for January 9, 2007:

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 3, 2008 at 7:27 pm

This 1940 photo is an expanded view of on the PAB thumbnails posted by TC on 1/28/05. The photo is from the Irvin Glazer collection:
http://tinyurl.com/3xe3e9

MrHole
MrHole on March 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Went to this theatre for the first time ever this past Saturday afteroon to see “The Savages” and enjoyed myself very much! It has been almost a decade since I’ve been to a single screen theatre and I plan to go back whenever possible. Very clean, good sound, friendly staff and customers.

RoadsideArchitecture.com
RoadsideArchitecture.com on January 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

A replica of the original blade sign has been installed – link here

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 25, 2012 at 7:44 am

I added to this site the video of the blade sign installation, http://cinematreasures.org/video/jenkintown-pas-hiway-theatre-vertical-sign-is-installed

RickB
RickB on January 13, 2013 at 4:27 am

Philly.com concentrates on the Hiway in a story about small cinemas making the digital conversion. The Hiway is said to have raised $50,000 so far, about half of the money it needs.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 13, 2013 at 5:03 am

Don’t miss the photo gallery & video about the Hiway at that article (January 13, 2012 Philadelphia Inquirer, front page!) that RickB links. Registration is free online for the Inquirer.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on January 14, 2013 at 7:20 am

Bradley Cooper grew up and went to this theater as a child. Sunday morning interviewed him in this theater 2 weeks ago. HE is just a good old neighborhood boy whom everybody adores.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

As they mentioned on Facebook, last Thursday eve’s DCP screening of classic “Casablanca” sold out at the Hiway!

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