Eric's Place Theatre
1519 Chestnut Street,
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The Trans-Lux Theatre opened on December 31, 1934, as a newsreel theatre. Thomas Lamb designed the theatre in an Art Deco style. It had 500 seats, and for the first time in Philadelphia, rear projection from behind the screen.
Newsreels and short subjects declined with the advent of television, so the Trans-Lux Theatre became a first run movie house, starting with a reserved seat engagement of “The Red Shoes” on December 25, 1948. Disney’s “Cinderella” was showcased in 1950. Jose Ferrer, the star of “Moulin Rouge”, appeared in person in 1953 at the preview showing of that movie. Due to the needs of CinemaScope movies, projection was moved to the theatre’s rear in early-1955. Cary Grant and Philadelphia’s own Grace Kelly appeared in person August 2, 1955, for the gala benefit world premiere of “To Catch a Thief”. Movies shown included Peter Seller’s comedy “The Mouse the Roared”(1959) and Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita”(1962).
The theatre closed from March 8 to March 17, 1965, for refurbishing to the plans of architect Drew Eberson. The front was remodeled in Italian marble and a new outside box office. New lobby furniture and new light fixtures were installed. Red carpet was added. The walls were covered with white and gold fabric. The ceiling was given a blue and white star effect. The Road Show presentation of “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes”(1965) was here.
The Sameric Corp. acquired the theatre and renamed it Eric’s Place Theatre. In 1970, Philadelphia theatre architect William H. Lee, a year before his death, remodeled the theatre. The exterior was given a 1970’s Art Deco Revival look, though simple in comparison to the exquisite original facade. “Star Wars” played here for almost six months in 1977.
Eric’s Place Theatre closed in 1993 and was vacant until 2006, when it reopened as a shoe store, Finish Line, which departed this location in 2016.
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