Ardmore Theatre

34 W. Lancaster Avenue,
Ardmore, PA 19003

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Ardmore Theatre

The Ardmore Theatre opened May 17, 1922, with Mae Murray in “Fascination”. It had 1,446-seats according to plans on record in Lower Merion Township. It was designed by architect Clarence Woolmington. An organ (make unknown) had been ordered but was not installed for the opening, instead, an orchestra made up by musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra accompanied the movie. The Ardmore Theatre was acquired by the Stanley Co. in 1926 and they were later taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp Inc. In 1950, the marquee was redone to the round shape that survived for decades. It remained a popular movie house for over seven decades until it was closed by United Artists in 2000.

After closing, the theatre later appeared on the Lower Merion Conservancy’s 2001 top ten list of endangered historical buildings.

It was too late, however, and in a a move that mimics a growing national trend, the Beaux-Arts style Ardmore Theater was gutted and reopened as a fitness center in 2002.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Sports Clubs had its eye on the Ardmore Theatre ever since it was closed in August, 2000.

The gym’s parent company, Town Sports International studied closed and troubled historic movie theatres in the Philly area to determine which might be take-over targets. The company tried to acquire the Bryn Mawr Theatre, but it was saved for movies by being purchased by a non-profit organization.

Because of Town Sport’s renovation, the Ardmore Theater will never reopen as a theatre. The gymnasium was closed July 31, 2014. In April 2017, a furniture store opened in the former theatre, with an additional entry of a new glass door at the back.

Contributed by George Quirk, Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on February 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm

The Ardmore Theatre has had 3 different marquees. The final marquee was installed around 1940, and had the name “ARDMORE” on the top of the marquee, until around 1977,when it was replaced by “ERIC”.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on February 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Also, shouldn’t the Ardmore be listed as a Twin Theatre, since it was, during the last 20 years, listed as either “Eric Ardmore Twin Theatre” and “United Atists Ardmore Twin Theatre”

bobc316 on March 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm

funco land was also a theatre more like vaudville closed when ardmore opened in 1926 i have an old post card when that theatre existed

bobc316 on March 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm

what happend to ardmore gets me sick when i think about it. i saw them gutted this building totally gets me angry i do have seats from ardmore i had to say something called memory

HowardBHaas on July 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Gym closing July 31 according to article online today’s Main Line Times- Over a decade after the Philadelphia Sports Club first made its home in the former Ardmore Theater on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, the high-end athletic facility will close its doors mid-summer.

Lisa Hufcut, media relations spokesperson with Town Sports International, LLC, parent company of PSC, confirmed the information: “Yes, the PSC Ardmore location will be closing on July 31,” Hufcut wrote in an email Wednesday evening, July 3. No further information on the future of the Ardmore facility or that of TSI’s other locations could be obtained prior to the long July 4 holiday weekend.

In addition to PSC in Philadelphia and its suburbs, TSI also operates clubs in New York (NYSC), Boston (BSC) and Washington (WSC).

According to the website which references a Main Line Times article, the former Ardmore Theater at 34 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, opened in 1926. It was designed by architect Clarence Woolmington in the Baux-Arts style. The theater’s use went from vaudeville to silent films to “talkies” and by 1941, it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management. It remained a movie theater until it was closed by United Artists in 2000.

The Lower Merion Conservancy put the theater on its 2001 top ten list of endangered buildings. Following its business model of repurposing closed and/or troubled historic movie theaters, PSC’s parent company, Town Sports International, took over the Ardmore Theater after trying unsuccessfully to acquire the Bryn Mawr Theater. That theater was purchased by a non-profit and saved as the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

In 2002, after TSI purchased and totally gutted the Ardmore Theater, it reopened as the Philadelphia Sports Club. The spacious, two-level Ardmore gym is one of several PSC locations: St. Davids and Chalfont are listed as suburban sites on as well as Market Street, Rodin Place and Society Hill in the City of Philadelphia.

Attempts Wednesday to obtain comments from management at the Ardmore PSC location regarding the status of members, employees and the building’s future were unsuccessful. Main Line Media News was referred to Lisa Hufcut with the corporate office.

Mikeoaklandpark on July 4, 2014 at 10:58 pm

All I can say is the SamEric chain should have never sold their theaters to United Artists. They closed almost all of the theaters they purchased in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. UGH

Luke_Staisiunas on July 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Does anyone know what happened to the organ? The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ says that it opened with an organ, which was rebuild into a 5/21 instrument by builder S.H. Barrington, who used a 5 manual console built by Gottfried.

bobc316 on April 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm

on facebook i made a group for the ardmore theatre please join share your memories pics tickets so on.

HowardBHaas on August 6, 2019 at 12:16 am

Auditorium may be demolished to build residential replacement.

Do on October 27, 2022 at 1:48 am

This and the Wynnewood Theater also on Lancaster Av, we’re two of Sameric’s busiest theaters. I remember when this theater played “Platoon” day and date with Sam’s Place. Jack Murry was doorman for years.

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