Groups turn out to support 'endangered' Boyd Theatre
It's the last of its kind. A few broken light bulbs. An empty marquee. A chipped and faded sign. That's about all that can be seen from outside the Boyd Theatre, the last movie palace of Philadelphia.
It's the last of its kind.
A few broken light bulbs. An empty marquee. A chipped and faded sign. That's about all that can be seen from outside the Boyd Theatre, the last movie palace of Philadelphia.
Yesterday more than 100 people gathered outside the now-shuttered doors, which once opened for movie stars Grace Kelly, Charlton Heston and Denzel Washington attending film premieres.
For the third time in three years, the Boyd, on Chestnut Street above 19th, is about to change hands, and yesterday's rally was intended to show support for the Boyd's preservation.
Concert promoter Live Nation reportedly had planned to remodel it, but has since abandoned the project and put the theater up for auction next Wednesday. Those plans have some folks worried about the Boyd's future.
The Boyd, which has faced the threat of the wrecking ball once already, this week earned the unlucky designation by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the country's most endangered historic places.
"This incredible thing that happens just in the United States in which architecture that was reserved by the highest elites that was built for the common man - that's why these buildings are so important," said Shawn Evans, of Philadelphia's Atkin Olshin Schade Architects.
The Boyd - known for many years as the SamEric - operated for 74 years before closing in 2002. Of many former theater palaces in the city, only the Boyd remains relatively intact.
At the 1993 world premiere of the movie "Philadelphia" at the Boyd, according to Evans, Tom Hanks exclaimed: "Wow, a real movie palace!" when he entered.
Despite its rough exterior, the building still possesses some architectural jewels, including the original lighting fixtures and detailed glass designs, Evans said.
City Councilman Bill Green yesterday introduced an amendment to the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Ordinance that would allow the Philadelphia Historical Commission to designate building interiors as historic. That would save the 2,500-seat theater from demolition, but some say it also could scare off buyers.
"We don't want to do anything that would jeopardize the sale or potentially push somebody away from it. But we also think it is important and it certainly qualifies for designation," said Adrian Scott Fine, of the national trust.
Howard Haas, president of Friends of the Boyd, said: "Some bidders seeking to buy the Boyd would demolish it. Others would gut the theater . . . The movie palace must survive so that the Boyd Theatre is here for our grandchildren, just as it was for our grandparents."
Among those in the crowd, Anton Jones, of South Philadelphia toted a "Save the Boyd" sign.
"I'm here to represent," said Jones, 35, who once worked at the Boyd. "I'm going to donate some money. Maybe a couple of dollars . . . I ain't rich like all these other guys. These guys probably have to put money in this . . . All I got is memories I put in there."