Boyd Theatre

30 W. Broad Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18018

Unfavorite 10 people favorited this theater

Related Websites

The Boyd Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Boyd Theater Circuit, Wilmer & Vincent Corp.

Architects: William Harold Lee

Firms: E.C. Horne & Sons

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Kurtz Theatre, Colonial Theatre

Nearby Theaters

News About This Theater

Kurtz Theatre exterior

Located on W. Broad Street, near Main Street. For over 85 years the Boyd Theatre brought great entertainment to the Lehigh Valley. The Boyd Theatre eventually became the Lehigh Valley’s only first run single screen cinema.

Originally opened in 1921 as the 1,626-seat Kurtz Theatre operated by Charles Kurt & John Kurt and was designed by architectural firm E.C. Horne & Sons of New York. The theatre featured vaudeville opening acts prior to silent film screenings. The gala opening featured a seven piece orchestra (under the direction of John Hepple Sheppard) and a massive 3 manual Estey pipe organ. Opening attractions at the theatre included Shubert Advanced Vaudeville Acts of ‘The Ziegler Sisters’, ‘Jolly Johnny Jones Company’, a minstrel show with ‘Harper and Blank’, and female impersonator ‘Francis Renault’. The silent film “The Great Moment” starring Gloria Swanson followed the vaudeville opening acts. The Kurtz Theatre was closed in July 1924.

In 1924, the theatre was purchased by the Wilmer & Vincent circuit and renamed Colonial Theatre, as they were also the owners of the Colonial Theatre, Allentown, PA. In 1925 it was remodeled to the plans of architect William Harold Lee.

A.R. Boyd Enterprises of Philadelphia purchased the theatre in 1934, and it was renamed Boyd Theatre. The new owners had several other theatres including the Boyd (Allentown), Boyd (Easton), Boyd (Philadelphia) and Globe (Bethlehem). On December 27, 1966 a fire broke out in the theatre, destroying the lobby and some of the retail spaces in the front of the building. The lobby was rebuilt and the Boyd Theatre reopened in early-1968.

In 1970 a local family purchased the Boyd Theatre. They continued to operate the Boyd Theatre as a single screen first run theatre, but closing off access to the balcony and using t500-seats in the orchestra seating area only. In 1999, a brand new state-of-the-art Dolby Digital Surround EX sound system was installed to accommodate the showing of “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace”. It remained one of the best surround sound systems in the area.

The Boyd Theatre was closed in May 2011 due to damage from heavy rainstorms. The owners asserted it would reopen. In February 2019 plans were announced to convert the building into apartments. In March 2022 it was announced that it would be demolished in May 2022.

Contributed by Jonathan M. Crist, Brenna Howard

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

Rstewart on August 26, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Today’s Express-Times says that Moravian has backed away from the sale. Bethlehem hopes that it will proceed with the other investor, but he says he is only interested if Moravian is in the deal.

desalp on January 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

WOW! The morning papers are reporting Joyce Hecht has sold the Boyd (with 4 stores, office space and a basement used as a club) to an undisclosed limited partnership for $1.35 million. Heydt is said to be “thrilled” with the new developer. The realtor that handled the deal says showing movies has not been ruled out but described plans for an “arts center.” Moravian College, which made an attempt to purchase the property earlier, has already said they look forward to talking with the new owners. WOW! The realtor says the new owner “has the funds to do everything he needs to do.” and “I think it’s going to be pretty spectacular.” WOW! I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but WOW!

HenrySchmidt on January 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Very big news indeed! This is the only movie theater remaining in downtown Bethlehem. Allentown lost its last one when the Colonial was demolished (still has Symphony Hall a/k/a Lyric of old), and Easton has the State. Under all the later trappings in the Boyd there is a real vintage house that will be a treasure again if the restoration is properly handled. Let’s hope so!

HowardBHaas on January 20, 2016 at 2:21 pm

sold to developer Charles C Johnson, no promise it will be a theater again-

HenrySchmidt on January 20, 2016 at 7:21 pm

It’s Charles Jefferson, not Johnson. Sounds like a guy who gets things done; let’s hope his “thing” is preservation/restoration! Great if movies return, but the important thing is keeping it as a theater!

Jerseyboy67 on October 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm

I would be nice to see classic movies there during the holidays and also have appearances by up coming celebrities. Hate to see this building go to waste.

Rstewart on February 13, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Bad news today

hondo on March 6, 2022 at 1:27 pm

Sadly, the Boyd is being demolished over the next 60 days. The signage will be incorporated into the new apartment building that is to be built on the site although the sign itself is not historically significant. I saw all three Back to the Future films here. The theater has a nicely pitched auditorium floor which followed the contour of the hill on which is was built.

BigGreenBag on August 31, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Unfortunately, the deed is now done, and the Boyd is gone. growing up in Bethlehem in the late 90s/ early 2000s, had some great memories of this place– it was the first area theater to get Dolby, and retained a policy of not selling tickets until an hour or so before showtimes, so it was a great place to sneak into a big premiere.

It seemed lke it always did decent enough business, but a huge 2011 storm shut it down (storm in late august/early september IIRC, knocked out power for a few days), and badly damaged the roof, and management couldn’t address it in time, so the whether damage just got worse and worse until it was unrepairable… the balconies were shut down my entire life too, so I think the upper levels were weaker to begin with.

I remember a historic banner/sign that was always up front, that commemorated some big premiers back in the 30s, some movie stars and Mickey Mouse were on it… any pics of that?

Anyway, at least the master plan for this of apartment buildings is now set to incorporate the old signage and name:

Nice overview from a local library

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on July 17, 2023 at 10:55 am

I made a few trips to the Boyd before it was demolished. Here’s a short write up with some of my photos.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.