One block from Rittenhouse Square, on Chestnut Street between 19th and 20th, there stands a remarkable building - The Boyd Theatre. Philadelphia's last movie palace was called the Sam Eric when it closed in May, 2002.
Help us save this Philadelphia landmark and restore this Philadelphia landmark to its former grandeur and obtain a film program.
- Be added to our weekly email list so you can be kept informed of our news, our events, and will have the opportunity to volunteer.
- Donate via PayPal
- Donate via check or money order
- Please sign our online petition
March 2013 - New Press
- Sitting Down with The Boyd Preservationist
- Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania's Endangered Historic Properties
June 17, 2011 Join Friends of the Boyd at Facebook
In addition to taking the helpful steps on this page, visit our Facebook page too!
Please click "Like"
Thanks to Friends of the Boyd volunteer Amber Lauletta for creating the Facebook page.
February 9, 2011 Historic Movie Theaters of Center City article featuring the Boyd
The PhillyHistory Blog, a project of the Philadelphia City Archive, posted on February 9, 2011 a great article on the history of Philadelphia's Movie Theaters, using historic images from their collection.
The Boyd is prominently featured. The essay, written by Shawn Evans, AIA, was adapted from the Friends of the Boyd powerpoint presentation (also prepared by Shawn), which has been frequently shown through the years to build awareness of our mission. One of the most compelling parts of our presentation is the history of Philadelphia's Center City movie palaces, of which the Boyd is the last. Seeing these wonderful photographs of Philadelphia's lost movie palaces reinforces why it is so important to save the Boyd. As Irvin Glazer said so well in the introduction to his book, Philadelphia Theaters: A Pictorial Architectural History, "The movie palace was perhaps the most important new type of building introduced in the twentieth Century. Its advent marked the first time in architectural history that ornate and costly structures were conceived and executed primarily for the service of the common man." Though a remarkable building in its own right as a physical edifice, the Boyd is significant because of the remarkable experiences it gave the millions of people who sat in its seats until just a few years ago. For all of these people, the Friends of the Boyd continue our work to advocate for the preservation and full restoration of this historical treasure.
July, 2009 Theatre Historical Society of America Rallied at Boyd and Honored Howard Haas
In Philadelphia for their annual pilgrimage to historic theaters, the Theatre Historical Society of America ("THS") rallied at 4:15 PM on July 8, 2009 on the sidewalk at the Boyd Theatre. THS is the only organization in the U.S. which exclusively records, preserves and celebrates the rich architectural, cultural and social history of America's theatres. Members of Friends of the Boyd and many others from the community joined the rally. Friends of the Boyd president Howard Haas updated the crowd on the status of the Boyd Theatre and its importance. THS president Karen Noonan briefly spoke, emphasizing how critical it is for the Boyd to be fully restored and reopened. An article and video of the rally is here. Other press coverage is linked at Press.
On July 11, 2009, the Theatre Historical Society of America ("THS") honored Friends of the Boyd president Howard Haas, as Member of the Year. Karen Noonan, president of the organization, later released the following statement:
THS was proud to honor HOWARD HAAS, President of Friends of the Boyd (Philadelphia PA) with our Member of the Year Award at this year's Awards Banquet at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia.
Howard was chosen for his tireless dedication and overwhelming advocacy for the Boyd Theater through its many ups and downs throughout the years. Howard is a defining voice for the preservation of this Art Deco movie palace for many years and has organized the Friends in countless rallies and public events to keep the historic structure constantly in the public eye.
The war is not yet over, but we pause to thank Howard before the next battle begins!
August 8, 2008: Philadelphia Historical Commission Designates Boyd Theatre
By a unanimous 14 to 0 vote on August 8, 2008, the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted to add the Boyd Theatre to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Friends of the Boyd supporters overflowed the room. Experts and advocates testified on the importance of the Boyd at the July 16, 2008 hearing of the Commission's Designation Committee, which voted 7 to 0 in favor. Friends of the Boyd president Howard Haas asserted the Boyd Theatre long ago should have been designated. "It has a beautiful art deco exterior with many original decorative elements intact. It's about time it was recognized as a landmark." The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia filed the nomination on May 28, 2008. On May 29, 2008, Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter announced his support for the nomination and pledged to work to preserve the building. Click here to read the Mayor's statement.
This designation protects only the theater's exterior. This action does not ensure the exterior and interior will be restored to their original Art Deco splendor and the Boyd reopened for public entertainment. A new owner and restoration funding will be needed for that to happen. There's more work to do!
Rally at the Boyd Theatre on May 22, 2008
Starting at 11:30 AM in front of the Boyd Theatre, a large Rally was held to save Philadelphia's last movie palace.
- Adrian Fine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation spoke about the Trust's designation the Boyd this year as One of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and stated that Philadelphia should join the ranks of almost every US city which has restored and reopened for entertainment at least one former movie palace.
- State Representative Babette Josephs addressed the significant revitalization of the community that will occur with a reopened Boyd Theatre.
- John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia addressed the crowd on why the Alliance included the Boyd in their 2008 Endangered Property List and about the long fight by the Alliance for the survival of the Boyd Theatre.
- Labor leaders Michael Barnes of IATSE and Patrick Eiding of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, emphasized the great shows and jobs brought by a major theater such as the Boyd.
- City Councilman Bill Green told the crowd that earlier in the day he introduced into City Council a proposed law to legally protect historic interiors.
- Howard B. Haas made it clear that Friends of the Boyd are insistent that the Boyd Theatre must survive rather than be demolished or altered.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008: Boyd Theatre Designated One of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
The National Trust for Historic Preservation on May 20, 2008, listed the Boyd Theatre as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa. - Philadelphia’s last surviving downtown movie palace—a masterpiece of Art Deco design—faces an uncertain future as it sits vacant and remains vulnerable to demolition, awaiting a preservation-minded buyer to return the vintage venue to its original grandeur.
Since they began the list in 1988, the National Trust has listed only one other Philadelphia site: Independence National Historical Park. Howard B. Haas, President of the Friends of the Boyd stated "The National Trust listing verifies what Friends of the Boyd have said all along - the Boyd Theatre must be saved, restored, and reopened for entertainment."
March 2008: Boyd Theatre Designated One of Philadelphia's Most Endangered Historic Properties
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia has named the Boyd Theatre to their Fifth Annual Endangered Properties List, mailed out in March 2008. The Alliance's statement begins with:
Built in 1928, the Boyd Theatre is the last surviving motion picture palace in Philadelphia. Acclaimed as one of the world's first exuberant Art Deco-style theatres, the Boyd is one of Philadelphia's most important twentieth century entertainment landmarks.
The proposed SOLUTION is that Live Nation:
Agree to sell only to a buyer committed to preserving the theater. Mayor Nutter should make the preservation of the Boyd Theater a top economic priority of his administration. This would include exploring the potential for tax increment financing or the formation of a non-profit/private partnership to create eligibility for state Redevelopment Grant assistance.
March 2007: Lobby City of Philadelphia to Help Save the Boyd
The Philadelphia Daily News reported on March 3, 2007, that Philadelphia's last premiere movie palace, the Boyd Theatre, is offered for sale by its owner, Live Nation to any owner who might consider demolition! Live Nation is also considering turning the Boyd into a House of Blues, but has not stated whether the Boyd would be fully restored to its Art Deco design.
Friends of the Boyd would like your help in asking the help of the Mayor and City Council to save the Boyd.
A local civic group has a website which enables you to send a fax, in one fell swoop, to the Mayor, your district Councilperson and all at-large Councilpersons. Start by entering your street address here: http://www.hallwatch.org/faxbank/philadelphia
and enter "Boyd Theatre" in the Subject block.
You can write your own message, or copy and paste the BELOW MESSAGE to the Mayor and City Council people:
Please ask Live Nation, the owner of the historic Boyd Theatre at 1908 Chestnut to NOT sell it to a real estate developer who might demolish it! Instead, Live Nation could work with Friends of the Boyd (www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org) to identify a buyer who would restore the theater. And, please ask Live Nation to fully restore the Boyd to its original Art Deco design and include a film series should they decide to turn it into a House of Blues. A restored Boyd will bring jobs, tourists, entertainment, and vitality to Philadelphia.
If you prefer, you can mail a letter to Mayor Street, City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107 or fax him at 215-686-2180
September 13, 2006 Live Nation Ceases Renovation
The Philadelphia Daily News reports today that Live Nation ceased work and might sell the Boyd. Friends of the Boyd President Howard B. Haas has replied that Friends will continue to volunteer to ensure the Boyd is restored and reopened as a showplace theater.
Also see Inga Saffron's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Citation from Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2004
Thanks to State Representative Babette Josephs, for obtaining a Citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives commending the Boyd Theatre for its exquisite Art Deco interior, its history of hosting film premieres, and for symbolizing the plight of historic urban motion picture palaces in Philadelphia and throughout the country. Read the Citation's text.
AIA Landmark Building Award to Boyd
At a luncheon ceremony on May 6, 2004, attended in part by Mayor Street, at the Ballroom of the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, the Philadelphia chapter of the local architects' organization, the AIA, presented the 2004 Landmark Building Award for the Boyd Theatre (Sameric) and the Uptown Theatre. The brochure proclaimed that "Both theaters, with their exquisite Art Deco interiors, symbolize the plight of historic urban motion picture palaces, both in Philadelphia and across the country." Prior winners include other Philadelphia landmarks such as the Lit Bros Department Store Building, the Naval Home, and the PSFS tower on Market Street.
Friends of the Boyd Now Accepting Donations
If you'd like to help restore the Boyd and obtain a film program, please make your tax-deductible check or money order payable to The Friends of the Boyd and send to:
Friends of the Boyd
P.O. Box 30629
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Click here to download optional form to print out, or please include your mailing address, telephone number, and email address when you send a donation.
The official registration and financial information of "Friends of the Boyd" may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.