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The Lansdowne Theatre

January 12, 2012
Lansdowne theater auditorium

The Lansdowne Theatre auditorium.

The Lansdowne Theatre opened on June 7, 1927 in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia). The 1,381 seat theater was designed by William H. Lee, a Philadelphia based architect known for the recently renovated Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.
ceiling pattern and chandelier of the lansdowne theater

The patterns on the auditorium ceiling were based on the Roman emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea palace.

The Lansdowne was operated by Herbert Effinger of the Stanley-Warner (later Warner Brothers) circuit.  Opening as a silent film theater, the Lansdowne’s first film showing was “Knockout Reilly,” starring Richard Dix.  In addition to its use as a silent film theater, the Lansdowne was also used as a venue to live events, such as charity benefits or live music.  At the height of the silent film era, a Kimball 3Manual/8Rank organ was installed in the Lansdowne and was first played by the renowned organist Leonard “Melody Mac” MacLean.  Although the organ was once regularly used, it sat unplayed for 25 years after the silent film era. It was restored in 1963 and eventually sold in the late 70s to help pay for air conditioning repairs.

The projectors remain in the projector room.

The theater was sold in 1986 to the Lansdowne Theatre Associates, Inc, who closed it for renovations for most of the year. It reopened and was quickly closed again after an electrical fire broke out in the basement of one of the building’s retail storefronts. No one was injured, but the electrical system was destroyed. The Lansdowne Theater Associates were never able to raise the money to repair the damage and the building was seized by the Bell Savings and Loan Bank in 1989.

The interior of the theater was decorated in a Spanish revival style.

The building was purchased in 2007 by the Historic Lansdowne Theatre Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reopening the theater. They have since made repairs to the storefronts and office spaces and plan to reopen the theater in the near future. The Corporation intends to use the Lansdowne as a performing arts venue to host concerts, theater and dance performances. Donations to help restore this theater can be made at www.lansdownetheater.org

Marquee letters in the lobby of the theater.

The auditorium of the Lansdowne Theatre.

Another view of the auditorium.

The main entrance to the Lansdowne Theater.

The chandelier still works twenty-five years after the theater closed.

Lansdowne Theatre building in Lansdowne PA.

The front of the Lansdowne Theater building.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2012 7:59 pm

    Great story and photographs!

  2. January 13, 2012 8:28 am

    Wonderful story how the Lansdowne is getting closer and closer to their goal of starting restoration.

  3. Mark Marsden permalink
    January 13, 2012 4:37 pm

    Great pics, spent many hours there in 60′s and 70′s.

  4. paul j. stinglen permalink
    January 13, 2012 8:58 pm

    As a young teen in the 70′s this was my favorite place to take my date. The price too watch a movie $1.00 and at 17 it wasnt the movie I was interested in. Great memories and sadly missed. Good luck in the future hopefully there will be more great memories.

  5. Cindy Belz permalink
    January 14, 2012 11:05 am

    I also have great memories of going to the theater as a kid and a teenager. It was so nice to have a movie theater so close to our home. The pictures are really great!

  6. Diana Cruickshank permalink
    January 15, 2012 11:26 am

    Amazing that this was on FB today. Last night I was reading some of my Mothers papers, she passed away several years ago, and found a list from Warner Bros. of men promoted for being capable and loyal. This is from 1937.

    On the list William Yurasko was promoted to Manager of the Lansdowne from Assistant Manager at the Circle.

    I also have a picture of about 100 men all at the meeting.

  7. January 20, 2012 1:19 pm

    Nice photographs! your color correction is very well done considering those nasty yellow construction lights.

    • January 20, 2012 2:22 pm

      Thanks. Those lights made it quite difficult to get the color right.

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