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Old Chester, PA: Business



Be sure to click the thumbnails below to see the full-size picture.
Business Name Location Owner/Operator Dates of Operation Comments:
  Apollo 3rd & Lloyd

1006 W. 3rd St.

(North side of 3rd St., east of Lloyd St.)

Samuel Whiteley, manager much of the 1950's Originally opened as the Lloyd in 1926 Destroyed by fire c. 1976

Seating = 700
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

"My grandfather, Samuel Whiteley, was the manager of the Apollo theater for much of the 1950s. I can remember going as a child to see all the Alan Freed rock and roll movies. The Apollo, the Mac, and the Strand theaters were all owned by the same man, whose nickname was Mac. Does anyone remember his full name?

My grandparents lived at 325 Lloyd Street. My father, Samuel Whiteley, Jr, was born there in 1917. I think my father graduated from Chester High in 1934, in the winter. Unfortunately, that's the one yearbook you don't have! With the Depression going on, my father couldn't afford to buy the yearbook. I would love to see one. My father died in 1999."

Thanks to
Sandy Whiteley

  Benn 4th & Central Ave.     Originally opened in 1939 as the Rio; later became the Roxy
  Bijou Dream Theater 12 W. 3rd St.   ? - before 1915  
  Biograph 407 Market St.   ? - before 1915  

boyd.jpg (30224 bytes)
Boyd Photo couresty of David Andrews,

Boyd 8th & Welsh Last owner: Universal Theaters, Edward R. Saretsky, Pres. Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1935 - Sunday night before 6/21/1979 2006: The Boyd Theatre building currently houses Haven of Hope Church.

On November 27, 1934 Lord's Garage, Berman Brothers Auto Service was demolished to make way for the construction of the Boyd.

The Boyd opened on Thanksgiving Day (November 28), 1935 with Will Rogers in "Judge Priest".

Purchased from Boyd Theater Corp. of Chester on March 8, 1971 by Anthony Pileggi & William J. Coopersmith

Sold to Cinema Art Theatres, Inc., Philadelphia, on January 2, 1972.

Last owner - Universal Theaters, Edward R. Saretsky, Pres.

The Boyd Theater sold for $37,500 on January 27, 1991.

"I remember that when Ben Hur came to the Boyd there was an line so long it nearly wrapped around the block! I had to wait through several showings until I was able to get in! Later, in high school, I went to work at the Boyd as a usher. In the manager's office was a photograph of the long lines for Ben Hur.

"I remember working there during winter, about 1968, when the heater contoller broke and nearly blew up the boiler in the basement. It filled the whole theater with smoke and the theater had to be closed for repairs."

Thanks to
Jim Crawford,

  Casino Theater 7th & Sproul Streets      
  Chester Amusement Palace 318 Market St. George Leslie 1906 - before 1915  
  Drake's Theater 4th & Central   ? - 1928 - ?  

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Click for large picture

Photo courtesy of Delaware County Historical Society

Edgmont Theater   Homer Lord, manager 1924 1917 -  October 1924: Transferred to the Stanley Co. of America by J. Fred Zimmerman.
  Eddy Theater        
  Family Theater 7th St. & Chester Creek     Later known as the Princess Theater
  Grand 3rd & Market St.

(East side of Market St. north of 3rd)

  1911 -  Later, 2 stores to the north were combined with this store to form the remodeled Grand Theatre

Seating = 1400
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

"Chester's leading photo-play theatre"

Thanks to their ad in the 1916 Chester High annual, courtesy of Janet Andrews Moulder, Wilmington, DE

See Washburn Theatre photo below couresty of David Andrews,

Hargreaves Opera House 7th St. between Edgmont Ave. & Sproul St.   October 20, 1890 - ?

(by 1925 it was Washburn's Theatre and became the State Theatre in 1936.)

  Lloyd 3rd & Lloyd   1926 -  Later called the Apollo
  Lyric 3rd & Market   ? - 1915 Closed by 1915 when the Grand expanded into this space.

Click for large pictures

Courtesy of Wally Wolenski

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Courtesy of Barbara Usavage Montello

Lyric 3rd & Highland (1)   Originally opened as the Macon in 1918 "I remember going to the Lyric movie theater around 1959-1960. I was about 8 yrs. old and remember paying .15 cents to see 2 Saturday matinee features! :)
I remember a drawing of a Lyre, an ancient harplike instrument on the front of the building.
It was also at the Lyric that I saw the scary movie (at least for an 8 yr. old!) THE BLOB!!!!
Fran Farrar

theatres_mac_smalley_knott.jpg (72518 bytes)
Click for large picture

Photo courtesy of Florence Smalley Knott

Mac 9th & Walnut St. (1)   February 1939 - ? "I remember the 10 cent kiddie show on Saturdays "Air Conditioned". We used to spend all day there - Anyone remember the "ring-worm" scare? Don't put your head on the seat backs? Only cool place back in the early 50's if you had a dime."

Thanks to
Joe Grovola,

  Macon 3rd & Highland Ave.   ? - 1917 - ?

Later known as the Lyric

Seating = 800
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

Also thanks to their ad in the 1917 Chester High annual, courtesy of Janet Andrews Moulder, Wilmington, DE

  Majestic 5th & Market   ? - before 1915  
  Malta Hall 3rd & Fulton St.      
  Paradise 6th & New Market (Sproul St.)   ? - before 1915  
  Princess 7th St. & Chester R.     Originally the Family Theater

Seating = 1000
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

  Rio 4th & Central Ave.   1939 Built for African American audiences

Later known as the Benn and later as the Roxy

  Roxy 4th & Central Ave.     Originally built in 1939 as the Rio, later became the Benn and later the Roxy.

"Each Saturday we would go to the Roxy for 10 cents admission, take your own baloney and Ritz crackers to eat, sit on the floor if all seats taken and watch the movies over and over again, plus the "chapters i.e., Naokoai (sp) and I believe Tarzan (not sure of this one)". This was the treat of the week and the only theatre for black kids."

Thanks to
Joan Watson Short

"I used to go there and watch cartoons all day on Saturday."

Thanks to Lafenus Billups,

business_theatres_stanley.jpg (30992 bytes)
Click for large picture

Photo courtesy of Delaware County Historical Society

Stanley 4th St. & Edgmont Ave. Homer A. Lord, first manager. d. 1952 c. 1917 - March 18, 1958 Built c. 1917, Closed March 18, 1958

Seating = 2600
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

"My dad, Charlie Bleistein, was an avid musician all his life, and we knew that he had gotten his baby grand piano from the Stanley theatre. I don't remember the Stanley - it was most likely demolished in the fifties when I was a small child, and that's how my dad ended up with the piano. I believe it was to be thrown out and my dad rescued it. Last year when I was going through my dad's papers and stuff, I found the receipt from the sale of that piano to my dad in the fifties. He paid a whopping $30 for that huge piano & bench! A few months before he passed, my dad had that piano completely refurbished "under the hood". Sad that he didn't get to enjoy it for very long after that.

"My dad always told us proudly of all the well known pianists who used that piano over the years. I'd love to find a photo of that piano in use at the Stanley. My son, who also plays piano, now has inherited it. 

Thanks to
Valeria Bleistein, vbleistein@iopener.net 

business_theatres_state_1.jpg (39069 bytes)

See also Washburn Theatre photo below couresty of David Andrews,

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Islamic Center of Chester

State 7th St. between Edgmont Ave. & Sproul St.   Originally opened on October 20, 1890 as Hargreaves Opera House. It was known as Washburn's Theatre c. 1925 and became the State in 1936 or 1939.

The "New" State Theatre opened c. September 1939

The State Theatre currently houses the Islamic Center of Chester.

Thanks to Flojac1429@aol.com

"I remember they used to have double - sometimes triple shows at the State Theater on Saturday's - cowboy movies!   We kids used to be lined up to see Lash Larue(?), Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, and others.  The Stanley used to do shows, too."

Thanks to Ken MacIntyre,

"I have 2 copies of the old Delaware County Advocate, which was published by Spencer Stationer from 36 to 41. In one there is a picture of the opening of the State theater, in Sept 1939. The ceremony was attended by, among others, Mayor Peoples, one Edith Hefflefinger, and the new manager, Wm Crowley. It was not 1936, as noted on the website."

Thanks to
Frank DeMaio

  Strand 1824 W. 3rd St.

3rd & Reaney St.

  ? - 1917 - 1929 - ? Seating = 700
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

Thanks also to their ad in the 1917 Chester High annual, courtesy of Janet Andrews Moulder, Wilmington, DE

  Theatorium 617 Edgmont Ave.      

washburn_theater.jpg (380327 bytes)

Washburn Photo couresty of David Andrews,

Washburn 7th St. between Edgmont Ave. & Sproul St.   c. 1925

(See Hargreaves Opera House and the State Theatre)

Property sold by August 20, 1926

Seating = 1800
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

washington_theatre.JPG (55375 bytes)

(Click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version)

Washington 5th & Market St.

East side of Market Street, north of 4th.

  Built in 1920, the theatre was demolished immediately after May 1, 1959. Seating = 1700
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

"Years ago we used to go to the Washington Theater for .12. Was there every Saturday for the Westerns. And the bus to downtown Chester was only a nickel."

Dave Wood

  William Penn 602 Edgmont Ave.

(West side of Edgmont Ave., just north of 6th St.)

  1912 - 1915 - 1918 - before February 1931 Leased to Warner Bros., Inc. of PA for a bakery by February 7, 1931

Seating = 1200
Per the Chester Times Yearbook & Almanac, 1929

"Home of the V.L.S.E. Features"

Thanks to their ad in the 1915 Chester High annual, courtesy of Janet Andrews Moulder, Wilmington, DE

"This theater was probably still in existence and operating beyond 1915. I base this on the following: Among some very old family photos, I have one which shows a poster in the background advertising the movie "Salome", starring Theda Bara at the Wm. Penn Theater. Since this movie was released in 1918 (according to the Internet Movie Database), the theater must have still been open at least into 1918."

Thanks to
Al Lenny


Many thanks to David L. Andrews, Drexel Hill, PA, for sharing the following letter to the editor which was published in the Delaware County Daily Times on Wed. October 12, 1994:

Chester deserves a movie theater 

To the Times:

I am delighted to hear that there is a possibility of getting a movie theater into Chester again. Chester has a long history of moving pictures dating from 1906 when George Leslie opened the Chester Amusement Palace at 318 Market Street.

It was just a store front set up with chairs. In the next couple of years, a number of theaters opened to show motion pictures: the Biograph at 407 Market Street, the Theatorium at 617 Edgmont Avenue, the Majestic at 5th and Market Streets, the Lyric at 3rd and Market Streets, the Paradise at 6th and New market Streets (now Sproul Street), the Bijou Dream Theater at 12 West 3rd Street, and the Ma1ta Hall at 3rd and Fulton Streets.

All of these theaters were gone by 1915 when the Lyric closed and the Grand Theater, which opened in 1911, expanded into the space. The William Penn Theater opened at 602 Edgmont Avenue in 1912. In 1917, the Edgmont Theater opened at 4th Street and Edgmont Avenue, and later became the Stanley Theater with about 2,600 seats, the largest theater built in Chester. The Washington Theater was built at 4th and Market Streets in 1920. The Macon Theater opened at 3rd Street and Highland Avenue in 1918 and later became known as the Lyric Theater. The Strand Theater opened at 3rd and Reaney Streets in 1920. The Lloyd Theater opened at 3rd and Lloyd Streets in 1926 and was later called the Apollo Theater.

There were no other theaters built in Chester until 1934 when the Boyd Theater at 8th and Welsh Streets was opened. The year 1939 was the last year that theaters were built in Chester. The Mac at 9th and Walnut Streets was opened in February. A theater for African American audiences was built as the Rio at 4th Street and Central Avenue (later known as the Benn Theater and later as the Roxy Theater). In August, the New State Theater opened on East 7th Street. On the same site had been the Grand Opera Company dating from 1890, which became the Washburn Theater and later the State Theater. Movies were shown in all of these theaters as part of their programs. The Grand Opera Company showed a movie of the Passion Playas a special event in 1908. Films were also shown in vaudeville houses. The Family Theater (later known as the Princess Theater) was located at 7th Street and Chester Creek, and the Casino Theater was located on 7th and Sproul Streets.

Please note the names of Market Street to 6th Street and Edgmont Avenue from 6th to 12th Streets were changed to the Avenue of the States in 1976.

All the theaters are gone now, but the Boyd and Roxy are beautifully utilized as churches. 

Chester deserves another movie theater. 

Drexel Hill 




If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about any businesses in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 04/22/07