Sedgwick Theatre

7137 Germantown Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19119

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teegee on October 16, 2016 at 8:59 pm

I came across this article in MOTION PICTURE HERALD March 15, 1941 about a police raid on the Sedgwick.


Philadelphia Circuit Promotion Halted Because of Door Prize; Two Theatre Games Allowed

As the courts in Philadelphia ruled theatre chance games were games of skill, the city police were raiding a cooking show at a theatre on the charge that it was an illegal lottery because of a door prize feature.

“Quizzo” and “Lucky 13,” successors to “Bingo” in the city’s neighborhood movie houses, were officially pronounced games of skill by Quarter Sessions Court Judge Eugene V. Alessandroni, in a test suit. His ruling carried a “but” which is big enough to warrant police action if operators yield to temptation to turn the games into lotteries. Police, however, permitted the cooking schools conducted in Warner houses by the Philadelphia Record to continue on Wednesday after the paper agreed to award prizes for a quiz contest rather than for door-stub numbers.

“The conduct of this game was apparently legal,” said the court. “We cannot help but feel that since control over not only the choice of the question but also over its composition and the answer thereto considered to be correct, is vested exclusively in the management, unscrupulous manipulation of these factors can readily change this from what appears to be a game of skill into one of chance.” It was pointed out that this possibility left final supervision of the conduct of the game to police authorites.

Police Raid Theatre

Also last Thursday, police raided the Sedgewick Theatre, a Warner Brothers house, where more than 700 women were attending a kitchen and cooking show prior to the matinee. Entry was made after ten door prizes had been awarded with 20 additional lucky numbers to be selected for as many additional prizes.

The cooking sessions were sponsored by the Philadelphia Record in co-operation with the Electrical Association of Philadelphia and conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays, rotating at 21 neighborhood Warner theatres in the city. Police action at this time came as a surprise since the cooking schools have been in session for two years, this being the third time around the circuit.

Police contended that the award of door prizes was akin to Bank Night, every admission ticket being numbered with the wininng numbers drawn as for a Bank Night. Value of the prizes for the entire series of 21 sessions was set at $25,000 with a grand prize of a 1941 Ford De Luxe Tudor Sedan. The sessions were an advertising promotion on part of the newspaper, merchants buying space to exploit the school and contributing the prizes as well. . . . The article went on about legal attacks on theaters throughout the country for conducting games of chance like door prizes.

rivest266 on October 9, 2016 at 4:01 am

October 8th, 1928 small grand opening ad in photo section.

spectrum on January 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Some more info at the Sedlewick’s Wikipedia page:

It seems they had a webpage which is now defunct (the Wikipedia mpage has a link to the version) – also at one time the “Sedgewick Theatre” and “sedgewick cultural center” became separate entities. Currently, the theatre is being used by the Quintessance Theatre Group ( which has an active calendar of events.

profdb on October 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Can anyone tell me what the link to “Sedgwick” is? Interested in history of the theatre’s name.

xian87 on May 6, 2010 at 9:53 am

A new life for the Sedgwick?
View link

“In a recent interview Burns noted that when he first started cleaning up the Sedgwick for ‘Measure for Measure,’ he spent four days just removing the dust and grime that had collected since the place had been turned into a warehouse some years ago.”

suggests that maybe they’ll reopen the main theater? for now they’re just in the lobby. this NEEDS to be done!

graham55 on March 31, 2010 at 7:51 am

Hello from England ! Very interesting to read about the Sedgwick Theatre – and see the photos of the wonderful Art Deco interior. I am researching my family tree and there is a connection with the Sedgwick Theatre. – My Great Aunt May ( from England ) married a man called ‘Lee Balsley’ ( I think it is Lee, but definitely Balsley ), and he was the Manager at the Sedgwick Theatre for a time. I don’t know dates but I am guessing it was after the end of WW2. If anyone has any further information, that would be of interest. Many thanks. Graham Brown. Essex. England.

raymondgordonsears on August 19, 2009 at 10:20 am

Is the moving and storage co. still the owner of the building. Many years ago the owner gave me a tour again you must use the loading dock doors to get auditorium. He took the time to show me the entire building. What a great theatre it once was. When it was open my buddie and go to this theatre along with the others on Germantown Ave and the one ones on Chelton Ave. As a kid my grandmother ran the Chelten theatre one of the small houses in the area. rg

RichardCWolfe on August 19, 2009 at 8:43 am

The Theatre Historical Society visited the Sedgwick during their Philadelphia Conclave on July 11th of this year. It is indeed still in operation as a community center in the section of the building housing the lobbies.

We also went into the auitorium, but had to do so through the stage loading dock doors as it is still sealed off from the lobbies and used as a wharehouse. Wow, what a beautiful ceiling.

The lobbies have some spectacular art deco plaster work, but quite a bit of it is damaged and missing. It will take a lot to bring it back to it’s former glory.

raymondgordonsears on August 19, 2009 at 5:16 am

Still no activity and the lobby is empty. The center must be out of business. The video store th the left of the theatre built a small screening room and shows movies. I guess it would cost to much to do it at the center. rg

kencmcintyre on August 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

Here is a circa 1940s photo from the Irvin Glazer theater collection:

kencmcintyre on October 31, 2007 at 5:00 pm

The website now tries to sell you insurance.

Here is a July 2003 article about the theater and Germantown Avenue:

raymondgordonsears on March 30, 2007 at 10:57 am

It appears the center is closed. Web site down and front of the old theatre is empty. What’s up. rg

kencmcintyre on March 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

Here is an article about the theater and the surrounding neighborhood:

raymondgordonsears on October 4, 2006 at 10:43 am

Is the moving and storage co. still there. It doesn’t seen to be very active. rg

DennisMcG on June 1, 2006 at 11:44 am

Here is a memory I came across on the internet of the Sedgwick (the author is listed)

View link

DennisMcG on June 1, 2006 at 11:42 am

The Sedgwick Theatre located at 7137 Germantown Avenue, north of both the Rialto and the Upsal, in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. This 1,600+ seat theatre was built in 1928 in the art deco style. As with most theatres of the time, it had a stage for live shows but was never used for that purpose on the scale as the Orpheum, the Germantown (Vernon), the Colonial or the Tulpehocken (Rialto). Mostly, it was used as a motion picture theatre. It closed in 1966 as a movie theatre. Today, the striking art deco façade is still in place with its elaborate detailing. You can’t miss it driving along Germantown Avenue. It is today used as the Sedgwick Cultural Center, that offers various programs for the community, but is no longer a theatre. Mount Airy is considered one of the current Philly “hot spots” and this building is part of that revitalization effort.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on June 25, 2005 at 12:28 am

When the Sedgwick was a theatre, it was owned by Stanley Warner Theatres

raymondgordonsears on November 12, 2004 at 1:18 pm

The cultural center only uses the outer and the large inner lobbies.
The Aud. is the warehouse for a moving and storage company. To get to certain parts of the theatre you must get to them from the the warehouse. The owner was kind enough to walk me thru it. It was a nice theatre at one time. ray