Narberth Theatre

129 N. Narberth Avenue,
Narberth, PA 19072

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1985

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.

Contributed by Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 28, 2009 at 8:24 am

The Narberth now has 3D capability, starting yesterday with “The Jonas Brothers” in the auditorium to the right, with a new, larger screen. The Narberth’s exterior was featured yesterday on 5:30 PM WPVI TV (Channel 6) news.

bobc316
bobc316 on February 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

i agree howard. i was in the narberth that was the worst cheapass job, plus they destroyed the tiled water fountain which i was willing to pay top dollar for. id rather see a movie theatre torn down or converted to something else then cheap work it with plaster and other bad ideas. at least the brookline theatre went out with dignity.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 23, 2012 at 6:34 am

As of today, the Narberth’s 2nd auditorium was converted to digital projecton.

bobc316
bobc316 on September 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

the narberth theatre was built by THE FIRM OF salasin and freed who also built the BROOKLINE THEATRE and some local philadelphia theatres. the grandson of freed is in my brookline theatre facebook group.

Marlon Martinez
Marlon Martinez on December 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

This theatre is offering a Groupon for tickets:

http://www.groupon.com/deals/narberth-theatre

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 30, 2020 at 7:53 pm

Go Fund Me page for the Narberth Theatre, closed since March 12, 2020.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/narberth-theater-needs-your-help?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&fbclid=IwAR3sp2tCRwuRya0OmCG_Pxb9fpAkY1RQsRG9aTP_uZ9TEhBNqSk-EBx17jE

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm

The theater reopened in August or September. It may only be open during weekends. I went there a couple weeks ago to see a movie. Attendance at ALL our local movie theaters is low because audiences are concerned about Covid, though the state government set strict reopening standards to keep people safe. So, yes, theaters are suffering as they have mucho expense and too little revenue since reopening (and none during the shutdown).

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 30, 2020 at 8:02 pm

The gofundme notes the Narberth reopened. Full text-

Dear Narberth Movie Theater Customers, Supporters, Friends and Contributors,

Since 1927, the Narberth theater has brought the best films and big screen events to our neighborhood. Over the years we have opened our doors to hundreds of groups, organizations, and people to entertain. Among the organizations we have worked with are Penn Valley Elementary School, Saint Margaret School, and Lower Merion High School.

We closed on March 12th due to COVID-19. We have managed to survive the past five months due in part to receiving a small PPP loan as well as an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. We were able to re-open our doors on August 31st with a 25% occupancy restriction imposed by the state of Pennsylvania. With this sort of restriction in place, along with the dangers of COVID-19, business has cratered. The effect has been catastrophic and we are left scrambling to stay open.

With no government support looking likely and no clear end in sight to the pandemic, we ask that you please help us keep the projectors lit. The PA governor has just recently decreased the 25% occupancy restriction to 10%, making it nearly impossible to generate any sort of income.

With utility bills, rent, payroll, and other expenses piling up, we need your help.

As always, we thank you for your support. We have the best customers and supporters and we miss seeing you at our theater.

Please be safe and be well during this difficult time.

Best regards,

Greg Wax

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 30, 2020 at 8:34 pm

Yes, I should have read it fully. I shared it so people would know.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 30, 2020 at 8:36 pm

I will re-post it here so it is not buried further up. Go Fund Me page for the Narberth Theatre.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/narberth-theater-needs-your-help?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&fbclid=IwAR3sp2tCRwuRya0OmCG_Pxb9fpAkY1RQsRG9aTP_uZ9TEhBNqSk-EBx17jE

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