Chelten Theatre

1159 E. Chelten Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19138

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TheALAN on January 15, 2014 at 3:05 am

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

TheALAN on January 15, 2014 at 2:58 am


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.

RickB on October 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

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.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Here is the theater as it appeared a few years ago:

DennisMcG on September 2, 2006 at 2:26 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.

DennisMcG on June 1, 2006 at 7:21 am

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.