129 North Narberth Avenue,
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The Narberth opened on November 1, 1927 with “Loves of Carmen”. Evening performances were 35 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Matinee prices were 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. After the vestibule lobby was the main lobby, and then the foyer. Turning right, was the auditorium. When built, the auditorium was open to the foyer which included stairs going up to the restrooms, but eventually a wall was built to separate the auditorium from the foyer. The auditorium had 856 seats, a Wurlitzer organ(long since gone), a stage and dressing rooms for vaudeville. The theatre was built and operated by Salasin and Freed, was decorated by Harry Brodsky and its lighting fixtures were furnished by Voigt Company.
Architect Jacob Ethan Fieldstein used New York City’s Roxy Theatre as an inspiration, and the Spanish style design of the nearby Seville Theatre(Bryn Mawr) may also have been an inspiration. Philadelphia theatre architect William H. Lee worked on the Narberth, perhaps sharing original design or renovations such as the glass topped wall that sometime after opening separated the foyer from the auditorium (until the wall later was remodeled to be all wood). The Lee designed State Theatre in Easton, PA has decoration which resembles the Narberth Theatre.
Franklin Enterprises from Atlantic City operated the Narberth from 1939. In 1971 David and Barbara Wax purchased the Narberth from Franklin Enterprises. They employed a decorator who restored the decorative interior and refurbished it. Eventually their son Greg Wax took over operations, and installed digital surround sound. In the auditorium, the original chandelier changed colors, and the side walls had original sconces which were lit during the film. The screen was 32 feet wide for ‘scope films, the screen curtain was used for each film, and there were 576 seats. The seats were replaced in the Spring 2001 with comfortable seats from the nearby closed Wynnewood Theatre.
Greg Wax has continued to operate the Narberth under new owners. In 2004 the Narberth was re-modeled, re-opening in December. On the exterior, the original ticket booth was removed. Ticket sales are now inside the lobby which was re-modeled with a larger concession stand. Restrooms were re-located to the main floor near the auditorium in space previously occupied by a stairway.
A wall was built in the middle of the auditorium facing the former screen, creating two stadium seated 212 seat auditoriums. The auditorium’s decorative plaster was hidden behind fake walls and ceilings, but not destroyed, so that it could be revealed in the future. Each auditorium received new seats and digital surround sound. Film projection and sound, movie selection, and quality of the food at the concession stand at the Narberth Theatre have always been to the highest possible standards under the Wax family operation.
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