Eric's Place Theatre

1519 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Unfavorite 9 people favorited this theater

1935 world premiere of To Catch a Thief

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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. 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 “This Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines”(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.

Contributed by Bryan, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

LeifJonker on July 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I saw a triple feature of RE-ANIMATOR, CAGED HEAT and THE MUTILATOR at Eric’s Place in 1985. Thanks to everyone for posting the links to the photos!

TLSLOEWS on July 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Nice 1986 Marquee photo.

alps on October 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Crazy Bob, I was just trying to figure out, what did the projectionist at the Trans lux, being a black man had to do with anything?

HowardBHaas on July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Vince Young tells me that “Magnficient Men” road show was 35mm here, not 70mm.

dennisczimmerman on July 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Howard – MY comment in June 2005 mentions that the first time I patronized this theatre was during the roadshow engagement of “Magnificent Men.” I was disappointed in the screen size as it was the smallest screen I had ever seen in a movie theatre especially for a “roadshow presentation.” The traverse rod curtains actually opened and passed in front of the exit doors on either side of the screen to disappear into the wall coverings. HOwever, as I said the screen, which was located between the two exit doors, had to be one of the tiniest movie theatre screens. I would be interested to know exactly what size it was. Granted the theatre was not that big either, but it was still a disappointment after viewing movies at the Boyd, Stanley, Goldman, Fox, Midtown, etc. I would venture to say that even some of the multiplex screen sizes today are bigger than this one was. – Dennis -Lancaster.

grscott on December 26, 2014 at 11:13 am

I worked at most of the SamEric movies from 1974 – 1986, thru high school, Temple and part time after college. Eric’s Place, D&D, Mark 1 (under the Holiday Inn on Market Street), Rittenhouse 1&2 and the SamEric. From what I was told the Duke was named after John Wayne (friend of Sam Shipiro) and Duchess after the dog. Eric’s Place was named after Mert’s son who committed suicide. There was a big mural at Eric’s Place and the center piece was John Wayne in cowboyoutfit showing a young boy (Eric) his sidearm. I was the asst mgr ar Eric’S Place when Star War’s played there for 6 months and then moved to the Mark I for another 6 months.

HowardBHaas on May 26, 2016 at 7:59 am

Robert Ford, an employee, posted this (at Friends of the Boyd Facebook page) – Eric’s Place. 1978. We premiered the Buddy Holly story. Gary Busey was there. I don’t recall if there were other celebrities there. I wasn’t sure who Busey was at the time. One of the guys pointed him out to me as he descended the steps from the upstairs lounge. This was a special preview that night..very cool! I remember thinking, with the clothes and the hairstyle, that he appeared to be someone that could have went to school with. I was stationed inside the theatre (usher) and got to see most of the movie! Loved it!! Went to the record store that next payday and got the soundtrack album which I still have and play occasionally. (it’s still in great condition).

alps on May 26, 2016 at 11:10 am

If memory serves, two of the producers of the film, a married couple named Bauer, lived outside Philadelphia, this explains why Gary Busey was there.

HowardBHaas on June 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Movie theater floor plan:

Shadowbat on June 27, 2016 at 7:42 pm

The building will become “Hoops” a store by Foot locker. The Eric’s place marquee has been exposed for now:

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater