Circle Theatre

4650 Frankford Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19124

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Empire Theatre, later known as Northwood Theatre `26-`28, and preceding the Circle Theatre on the same site.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Circle Theatre opened in 1929, and was designed by the firm of Hoffman & Henon. It seated almost 3,000. The Circle Theatre was Philadelphia’s only Atmospheric style movie theatre.

It closed in the 1950’s. Some of the building has been used for retail. Some of the auditorium decor survives, but is not open to the public.

Contributed by graememcbain

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

diaphon on May 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm

The Kimball organ from the Circle Theatre appears to have been removed and reinstalled in Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Malden, MA sometime in the 1950’s based on this and other links…

I was told an apocryphal story that most of the Stanley-Warner organs (virtually all S-W organs were Kimballs with six notable exceptions) were removed from theatres and stored in the basement of their flagship Mastbaum theatre, and that row after row of Kimball consoles were seen, waiting to be sold off.

HowardBHaasEsq on August 22, 2008 at 7:20 am

Photos 8-21-08 of pinnacle of front facade of Circle by Rob Bender:
View link

kencmcintyre on September 12, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Here is an interior photo circa 1929 from the Irvin Glazer theater collection:

Alan_at_Circle on November 24, 2011 at 4:09 am

It would be interesting to see a photo of the original facade of the Circle Theatre. Also a photo of the auditorium and balcony as they exist today. I do know that the present retail stores occupy the theatres former vestibule, lobby, and foyer. I do not beleive that the retail stores extend under the theatres balcony. This area was sealed off as was the rest of the theatre. .

Alan_at_Circle on December 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

On May 17, 2008, peregrinearts visited the Circle Theatre and Sang Koo Park, one of the Circle’s present owners, mentioned that the 1929 Kimball theatre organ is still intact (to some unconfirmed degree). Eleven days later, diaphon comments that the organ “appears” to have been removed in the 1950’s. Diaphon also comments that he “was told an apocryphal story”, meaning the story is questionable. The Park’s have owned the theatre since 1991. Why would Mrs. Park report that the organ is still intact if in fact it was removed? After seeing the recent photo of the stage and proscenium, it is believable that the organ is still in the Circle!

HowardBHaas on December 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Perhaps because links don’t auto link, I neglected in June to post this link here of current photo of auditorium facing stage! follow link to photo of lighting control panel, too

Alan_at_Circle on January 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for the link Howard!

DavidZornig on April 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

I just added a photo of the Empire Theatre. The Philadelphia Buildings website states the Empire Theatre was located at 4650-4652 Frankford Avenue. And was known as the Northwood Theatre from 1926-1928. It also lists the Circle Theatre as being at this site. Photo Credit: Bruce Conner Historic Picture Postcard Collection

DavidZornig on April 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm

To clarify, the Empire/Northwood Theatre building was torn down to build the Circle Theatre in 1928/`29.

spectrum on June 23, 2014 at 8:22 am

The link for Howard Haas’s photo of the Circle Theatre interior has been moved. Here is the link for the blog posting:

Here is a link directly to the photo:

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