Chelten Theatre

1159 E. Chelten Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19138

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The Chelten Theatre opened in 1935, with seating for around 800. The Art Moderne style theater was located on Chelten Avenue near Ardeleigh Street and designed by the firm of Thalheimer & Weitz.

The Chelten Theatre remained in operation as a movie house until 1973, and afterward became home to a church.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

DennisMcG
DennisMcG on June 1, 2006 at 3:21 pm

The Chelten Theatre, located at 1159 E. Chelten Avenue (Chelten & Anderson Street), was an 800 seat theatre that opened in 1935. Never inside the theatre myself, the exterior is a modern, contemporary style that one site refers to as “art moderne”. As a movie theatre that showed current films, this theatre actually had a short run. The theatre started showing Christian films around 1953 or 1954. That is how I remember this theatre, as a Christian film cinema. It continued to show Christian films until 1973, when it was converted into a church. Today, it is still a church and still very resembles the theatre that opened in 1935, but the marquee is now gone.

DennisMcG
DennisMcG on September 2, 2006 at 10:26 pm

I was born and raised in Germantown. This theatre closed before my time (showed Christian films during my growing-up years). Curious about it though. Anybody remember what it looked like inside? Email me at or post what you remember here. Thanks.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Here is the theater as it appeared a few years ago:
http://tinyurl.com/yhumxpt

RickB
RickB on October 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

The operator of the Christian theater here (the last one, anyway) was the Reverend Harry Bristow, who had programs on Channel 29 and WTEL radio. A 1970’s Philadelphia Magazine story on movie theaters said that he left this venue and moved to the Ambler Theatre because of racial tensions in the neighborhood.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

OH THE CONFUSION —

There seems to be some confusion between the Allen Theatre and the Chelten Auditorium. Although they were only several yards apart, they were two separate theaters.

The Allen seated 400 and opened in 1924 at 1209 E. Chelten Avenue NEAR Anderson Street. It closed in 1964 and today is storage for an adjacent “Restoration Temple Worship Center.” Now nondescript, the building gives no clue that it was ever a movie house.

The Chelten Auditorium seated 800 and opened in 1935 at 1159 E. Chelten Avenue AT Anderson Street. It closed in 1953 but was resurrected as a Christian Cinema showing religious films until 1973 when the theater became the
“Chestnut Hill Church.” The church continues today.

TheALAN
TheALAN on January 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

Except for the absence of the marquee, the building has changed very little since!

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