Standard Theater

1124 South Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Wax Circuit

Architects: J.J. Hitchler, Angus S. Wade

Firms: Rowe & Dagit

Previous Names: Gibson's Standard Theater, Gibson's New Standard Theater

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The Standard Theatre

Built as the South Street Baptist Church. On September 8, 1888 it was converted into the Standard Theater by architects Rowe & Dagit. On April 21, 1913 it was acquired by John Gibson and was renamed Gibson’s Standard Theater presenting vaudeville & movies to an African-American audience. In 1920 it was renamed Gibson’s New Standard Theatre. It was closed in 1934, but later reopened after alterations had been carried out by architect Angus S. Wade and was operating as a full time movie theatre. By the early-1940-’s it was operated by the Wax Circuit. Closed again in 1954 when it suffered hurricane damage when the ceiling collapsed. It was demolished soon after and the site was used for parking..

The former location is now a vacant lot. There is a historical marker at the location which may refer to this theater.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre, Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm

The Temple University site has some photos of damage to the theater after Hurricane Hazel, around 1954. If you look at the Theater of the Living Arts page, I posted the Standard photos a couple of years ago.

dallasmovietheaters on April 27, 2022 at 10:47 am

The venue was converted to a theatre and had its first grand opening as the Standard Theatre on September 8, 1888 on a 25-year lease. On what is believed to be a new 20-year lease, it had a grand reopening as the New Standard Theatre on April 21, 1913 under new, African American exclusive operation mostly staging live plays and vaudeville shows. John T. Gibson brought top acts including Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and Ethel Waters to the Standard’s stage. Gibson also programmed the Dunbar Theatre. Gibson was financially decimated by the Great Depression selling off both of his theaters.

Under new operators, the Standard would mix film into its programming and the venue would be wired for sound becoming a full-time movie house over it final twenty years from 1934-to-1954. The Standard closed during Hurricane Hazel on October 15, 1954 when - during its final showing, Cleo Moore in “Bait” - part of the ceiling collapsed including the roof’s wood beam supports injuring two patrons. The first fifteen rows and roofline were basically destroyed in the storm that necessitated the veteran building’s demolition soon thereafter.

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