Walton Theatre

735 E. Chelten Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19138

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Additional Info

Architects: Ludwig Abt, David Supowitz

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Walton Art Theatre

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Walton Theatre

The Walton Theatre was a 650 seat theatre which opened in 1914, built at a cost of $12,000. Given its smaller size, it was built primarily as a movie house. In 1923 a Gottfried organ was installed. In March 1938 it was given a Streamline Moderne style makeover to the plans of architect David Supowitz.

From September 21, 1960 it operated as an adult theatre named Walton Art Theatre, with Greg Conrad in the nudist movie “Hideout in the Sun”. It was closed on January 14, 1976 with John Holmes in “Beyond Fulfilment” & Brigette Giursa in “The Devil Made Me Do It”.

It reopened as the Walton Theatre in January 1979 presenting documentary movies, independent movies and live stage acts. It closed on January 27, 1981 with Feng Kou in “Dragon vs. Needles of Death” & Alan Scarfe in “Cathy’s Curse”. This was the last of Germantown’s theatres to close. It remained vacant for a few years and was badly damaged in a wind-storm on November 20, 1989. This resulted in the theatre being a dangerous structure and it was demolished.

Contributed by DennisMcG

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

DennisMcG on June 15, 2006 at 7:28 am

It did close as the Walton Art Theatre in 1974. From roughly 1961 to 1974, the Walton showed XXX films, to the chagrin of the neighborhood. It re-opened, I believe, in 1976 and attempted to operate as a legitimate theatre showing 2nd-run films. I’m really going off memory but I believe that lasted until 1978. When it closed, it closed for good and remained vacant for several years. It caught fire in the early to mid 1980s. The building was demolished shortly after that. There are two retail stores on the site today.

DennisMcG on June 15, 2006 at 7:31 am

Here is a tumbnail picture of the Walton, when it was vacant and after it was destoyed by fire.

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DennisMcG on September 2, 2006 at 2:20 pm

This was my neighborhood theatre, but was never in it because of the films they showed there. The Walton was a legitimate theatre for most of its life, but was an XXX theatre in my growing-up years. Curious about the interior. Anybody remember, please email me at or post what you remember here. Thanks

teegee on December 23, 2015 at 8:50 pm

The Walton was on of the theaters I went to growing up in the late 50s and early 60s. I didn’t go there often because it was the farthest of the theaters I could walk to (mile and a half). I do remember going there for the original Godzilla in the mid 50s. It was so crowded we were sitting on the floor in the aisle. I think the last movie I saw there was The Medusa Touch with Richard Burton which came out in 1978. One other thing I remember about the Walton was the price structure. In the 1960s I remember three price levels, child, adult, and teenager. Nice touch. Just because you’re over 12 doesn’t mean you can afford an adult ticker.

robboehm on December 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

On Long Island there were only two tiers, adult and child. Yet, although you paid adult at 12 you still had to sit in the children’s section. Being tall for my age I segued into the theater proper as soon as I was 12. Previously, I carried my birth certificate with me to prove I was under 12 for the cashier. In the darkened auditorium there was no contest with the matron. An aside, still proofed at 26 because I looked under the drinking age and at 65 because I looked too young for the senior.

tjbartlett314 on January 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

I used to ride to my dad’s house in Germantown on the K bus and we would pass this theater, which by this time had been closed for almost a decade. What I remember about it is a mural on the side. It had phrase along the lines of “dare to struggle, dare to win” or something like that, and I had the sense that it had to do with 70’s era civil rights/black power. Does anyone remember it, or, better, have a picture? I remember being tremendously impressed by its scale and visual effect.

dallasmovietheaters on February 13, 2022 at 7:50 pm

Barnet Rubin built the new Walton Theatre in 1913 at 733-735 East Chelten. Its first advertised showtime was in 1914. John F. McMahon took on the venue in 1917 operating until his death in 1943. McMahon had added sound to the Walton to keep the venue viable. He then performed a streamline modern makeover in March of 1938 to the plans of David Supowitz. In 1954, the theatre added widescreen projection to present CinemaScope films. Operating as a grind house for much of the 1940s to 1960, the theatre saw a drop-off of attendance as the decade of the 1960s began.

The operation changed under new owners to the Walton Art Theatre showing adult films to continue remaining viable as of September 21, 1960 with “Hideout in the Sun.” (The same operators also had the Devon Art and the Spruce Art theaters.) The Walton Art Theatre closed on January 14, 1976 with John Holmes in “Beyond Fulfillment” and Brigette Giursa in “The Devil Made Me Do It.”

Richard Williams reopened the Walton with a combination of documentaries, small indy films, and live stage shows in January of 1979 as the Walton Theatre closing with a live comedy show on August 30, 1980. So, technically, this venue opened and closed as the Walton Theater aka the Walton Art Theatre aka the Art Walton Theatre.

A wind storm ripped the marquee off of the building on November 20, 1989 and much of its front causing the building to be razed in 1989 and 1990.

RickB on February 14, 2022 at 3:34 am

There are Inquirer ads for the Walton after August 1980–the last one I find is on January 27, 1981, with “Dragon vs. Needles of Death” and “Cathy’s Curse” as the features. From an Inquirer picture, the 1989 windstorm tore a gaping hole in the building at second-floor level; the damage was likely enough to require demolition.

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