Suburban Theater

Saint James Place and E. Montgomery Avenue,
Ardmore, PA 19003

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Budco

Architects: William Harold Lee

Functions: Restaurant

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

Suburban interior

The Suburban Theater was built by the Suburban Company in Suburban Square just north of the Ardmore railroad station of the Main Line, in Philadelphia’s western suburbs. Designed with downtown streets, the shopping center was the one of the first major shopping centers located outside a large city. It was anchored in 1930 with the first suburban branch of any of Philadelphia’s department stores, a Strawbridge and Clothier, still open, but as Macy’s.

The Suburban Theater was designed in Art Moderne style by architect William Harold Lee and had seating all on one floor. It opened in 1937. The marquee faced Suburban Square. The back of the theater faced the train tracks, and can be seen from trains passing through. The Suburban Theater should not be confused with the Ardmore Theatre on Lancaster Avenue, on the other side of the train tracks.

In 1950, Fried Theatre Management Co, operated the theater, and also operated the Anthony Wayne Theatre, City Line Center Theatre, and theaters in Conshocken, and had its company offices in the Suburban Theatre Building. In 1969, after Suburban Square was sold, the theater underwent a facelift with repainting, new fixtures, and new seats. The Suburban theater was known for excellent projection, sightlines, and state of the art sound. It had 800 seats. The last movie operator was the local Budco chain.

In 1979, Suburban Square became even more pedestrian friendly, closing off areas to automobile traffic and landscaping as a suburban equivalent to New York’s Rockefeller Center (without the ice skating), but the movie theater closed as part of that redo.

After closure, the auditorium became one large space for the Ardmore Farmers Market until a new Farmers Market opened in 2003. With real marquee letters, the theater’s marquee advertised the market. The ticket window was still present.

Unfortunately, the current clothing store which replaced the Farmers Market made unrecognizable the historic marquee and remodelled away the ticket window. In 2014, a restaurant reuse further remodelled the façade.

Contributed by Howard B Haas

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

HowardBHaas on October 17, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Photo by Rob Bender of exterior including marquee and former ticket window, as Ardmore Famers Market:
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Photo by Rob Bender of interior of former auditorium as Farmers Market, the clock being where projection booth would have been:
View link

HowardBHaas on October 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm

current photo by Rob Bender showing historic marquee & ticket booth gone! now clothing store.

HowardBHaas on February 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Main Line Times today profiles a restaurant reuse of the theater, which has further remodeled the façade. It says the restaurant is taking advantage of the tall ceilings inside the 5000 square foot space & dining on top of the marquee.

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