Palace Theatre

1214-16 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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This theatre, which was built in 1908, sat a little over 1,100, and stood at Market Street and 12th Street. Originally called Lubin’s Palace, it was remodeled in 1919, and again in 1945, given a Streamline Moderne facade by William H. Lee. The Palace Theatre closed in 1971, and was later demolished.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

TheaterBuff1 on July 12, 2007 at 5:53 pm

The early 1970s was a very tough time for movie palaces, and probably a great deal of it had to do with the political shifts that were going on at that time — the way America was changing by that point under Nixon, and, in Philadelphia’s case, the mayoral rise of Frank Rizzo. While can you imagine a movie palace falling on so desparate times that it believed exhibiting porno was a logical way to remain afloat? And by that I mean actual, straightforward porno, not serious-minded films that the less educated branded as such. Case in point, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which hit the theaters just two years before the Palace closed, bore an X-rating at that time.

Demographically, in 1971, the baby boom generation, a very sizeable majority, was just starting to come of age at that point. And so there was a mad political scramble as to who and what would have the greatest control over it from that point forward. And though the babyboomers had been weaned on movies exhibited in movie palaces among other things, in the early ‘70s all efforts were made to knock that influence out of the picture completely — a full undoing, if you will, of what FDR and others had helped bring into prominence many decades before.

Of all types of artistic expression, there is nothing more powerful, more potent, then a well-crafted movie exhibited in a well-run theater, and if that theater is a palace this is true even more so. And it’s not something that politicians weren’t aware of in 1971. For it was an awareness that had been strongly in place ever since the time of FDR.

And I believe that had it not been for a few key assassinations that occured not all that long before 1971, there’s a very strong possibility that when 1971 rolled around movie palaces such as the Palace, the Boyd, the Fox and so forth would’ve received an all-new shot in the arm, rather than forced on hard times the way they were. And the hard times they’ve pretty much been on ever since.

HowardBHaas on March 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

2 Sept 1939 Box Office reported that the Market Street Palace Theatre had 3 stories lopped off per building inspectors’ instructions

teegee on September 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

The photo above is not the same Palace Theater. The photo shows the Budco (later AMC) Palace Theater on Chestnut street. That theater originally opened as Theater 1812.

I went to the Palace often in the 1960’s. It frequently played the first run of the Japanese rubber suit giant monster movies. It was also one four theaters in downtown Philly that were open all night. The others, all on Market Street, were the Center, News, and Family (later the Apollo).

wdc73 on February 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The Apollo is featured in the 1981 movie Blow-Out, John Travolta’s character’s office is located above it, you get a good shot of it about ½ hour into the movie.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

The front of the Palace Theatre can be seen at far right in this 1931 photo. The buildings between the Palace and 12th Street were then about to be demolished to make way for Howe & Lescaze’s Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building.

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 4:13 am

Bingo!, Joe. The Palace is the theater in the postcard I have. The perspective and depth of focus made it look like this theater was the third building from the corner. I looked at some photos on the Philly history site that showed the buildings on the South side of Market Street from 13th Street. But the buildings they showed didn’t go as far as the theater. When I saw the photos, the theater got further down the block from 13th St. One showed the Fairyland, but that wasn’t it. I just checked your link to the Palace 1931 photo, and this is it! The awning is the same and the building next door with the arched windows matched the one in the postcard. Thanks. Another one down.

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 4:44 am

Joe: That’s Greta Garbo’s head on the left side of the Palace, in the 1931 photo. “Inspiration” is playing. Search the site for “Market Street” and there is a great close-up shot of the Palace Theatre, probably taken the same day…

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 5:14 am

Joe (& theater fans everywhere…): There are many progress photos of the demolition and the construction of the PSFS Building, on the Hagley site. The Palace facade can be seen, also the East wall with a Palace sign painted on it. Great stuff!

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 5:36 am

The 1931 Palace facade photo is #26 on page 4 of the search results…just click on the Feb. 12 link and do a “Market Street” search on the Hagley site. You can see the Savoy across the street in the early construction photos.

Mikeoaklandpark on February 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

The thing I remember about this theater is it had a turnstill enterance after you bought your ticket.

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