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Development Plan For Historic Center City Movie House Divides Neighbors

(Protesters took advantage of the former Boyd Theatre's massive marquee on a snowy December day to stage their demonstration opposing the historic site's demolition.  File photo by Pat Loeb)

(Protesters took advantage of the former Boyd Theatre’s massive marquee on a snowy December day to stage their demonstration opposing the historic site’s demolition. File photo by Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The future of Philadelphia’s last, great movie palace hangs in the balance until the Philadelphia Historical Commission decides whether to approve a plan that would preserve the façade but gut the interior.

Opponents of the plan, chanting “Save the Boyd,” braved the snow today to rally around saving the entire theatre.

The Boyd (later the SamEric), at 1910 Chestnut, has been shuttered for more than ten years, but a hearty group of fans say better to keep it closed a while longer than to gut it and turn it into a modern, six-screen theatre with food and bar service.

Howard Haas, leader of the preservation group “Friends of the Boyd,” says the developer’s plan would require demolishing the palatial Art Deco auditorium.

“Nobody again will ever experience a real movie palace in Philadelphia,” he warned.  “The Boyd must be saved for future generations.”

The Boyd is the last surviving remnant in Philadelphia of the Golden Age of Movies.  The Historical Commission is scheduled to take up the issue next month.

Rick Gross watched the rally today disapprovingly:

“We think the people that are here, mindlessly saying ‘save the Boyd,’ haven’t got a clue as to what you can do with a 2,000-seat theatre in this town.”

Gross lives across the street, and says the defunct theatre now is mostly a magnet for rats and drunks.

“Our building association and every condominium on the block has voted to support the application to convert the Boyd to a modern use,” he said.

 

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