Ruby Theatre

618-620 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Mastbaum Theatres

Architects: William H. Hoffman

Firms: Hoffman-Henon Co.

Styles: Italian Renaissance

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This is the first of three Ruby Theatres in Philadelphia. It was announced in March of 1914 as an alteration of an existing retail building at 618-620 Market Street. Smith Hardican Company of Philadelphia constructed the venue for Arcade Amusement. The plans were by William H. Hoffman of Hoffman-Henon Co. The silent photoplay house’s first advertised show was January 5, 1915 with “Ready Money". The $11,500 theatre was not a hit for manager R. Marlowe and the theatre changed hands twice in two years.

The theatre received negative publicity for an April 9, 1916 stunt in which the theatre would operate on the Sabbath for free. Mayor Thomas Smith spoke out against the Ruby Theatre plan. A large crowd of children showed up for the free show. Police showed up to dissuade the operation and the Mayor and police won the day to the discouragement of the hopeful but jilted audience.

In 1917, it was under the operation of the Central Market Street Company and hit its stride with Stanley V. and Jules E. Mastbaum at the helm. Its motto of “Individual attention, courtesy, comfort and cleanliness” seem to resonate as the theatre had a good run showing silent feature films over the next nine years. An upgraded organ with pipes on each side of the 10x13.5’ screen, new Powers 6B projectors, and an all-female usher staff along with 10 cent pricing won over its clientele. Frank Adams and Nathan Fehrman were the union projectionists.

However, the 400-seat venue was outflanked by newer-build, larger theatres and was no longer viable closing at the expiry of a 10-year leasing period by Stanley Mastbaum Company Theatres. And the venue at the Southeast corner of Market Street and Marshall Street sold at a sizeable profit netting $255,000 in 1925.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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