Kent Theatre

2459 Kensington Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19125

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Stanley-Warner Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Paul J. Henon, Jr., William H. Hoffman, Thomas White Lamb, George Plowman

Firms: Hoffman-Henon Co.

Styles: Renaissance Revival

Previous Names: People's Theatre, Desmond Theatre

Nearby Theaters


The People’s Theatre originally opened on 1890, with 2,336-seats. There 767-seats in the orchestra, 719-seats in the balcony, and room for 850 on long wooden benches in the gallery. It was located on Kensington Avenue at the corner with E. Cumberland Street in the Kensington district in the northeast of the city. It was designed by architect George Plowman. By 1912 it was presenting movies as well as vaudeville. In 1914, Thomas Lamb was hired to remodel the theatre, and the interior was gutted and its seating was reduced to 1,932 at this time. From October 14, 1922 to 1926, the People’s Theatre was renamed the Desmond Theatre presenting live theatre. It was then demolished.

In 1927 it was rebuilt to the plans of Hoffman-Henon Co. in a Renaissance Revival style and was renamed Kent Theatre by the Stanley Theatres Corporation. It reopened January 16, 1928 with Reed Howes in “The Racing Fool”. Seating was proved for 1,900 on a stadium plan, with a raised stepped section at the rear rather than the usual balcony level. A Kimball 3 manual 16 ranks organ had been installed which was opened by organist Karl Bonawitz. The proscenium was 66ft wide, one of the widest in the city. The Kent Theatre was later taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

The Kent Theatre was closed on March 5, 1968 with Oliver Reed in “The Shuttered Room” & Christopher Lee in “The Vengeance of Fu Man Chu”. It stood vacant for the next 21 years, with a ‘Closed for Alterations’ sign on the marquee. It was demolished in February 1989.

The site was in use as a basketball court for many years. It is now the site of a Family Dollar.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

Pham on January 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Hi “TheALAN” You are right in what you said about where the Kent Theatre was located. That map is incorrect.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 19, 2014 at 8:34 am

TheALAN & pham: Google Maps are not always accurate, especially when the street address and Zip Code are incorrectly given when the theatre page is first submitted. In this case, the address & Zip Code are correct, but it is a block off. The Google Street View has been set to the correct location.

IML8 on September 26, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Does anyone remember the dyed chicks and ducklings they gave away at Easter? There was always a green Buick parked outside…I think it was Mr. Levy’s

gmariner on October 25, 2014 at 10:15 am

I grew up on Cumberland Street near front st. I remember going to the Kent almost every Saturday. If you didn’t like what was playing you could go to the Midway, the Iris or the Howard. I remember the stage shows that were put on occasionally. I too went to Visitation and every time a new religious movie came out it was a class trip. Great memories great times.

gmariner on October 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

Yes I do remember the dyed chicks. WT Grant used to sell them on Front Street.

howiehangg on August 25, 2015 at 11:53 am


rivest266 on October 8, 2016 at 11:58 am

January 16th, 1928 grand opening ad in photo section.

gmariner on October 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

I don’t remember Jimmy Durante but I do remember going to a Halloween show where somebody was doing some magic tricks on the stage

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on August 26, 2020 at 12:14 am

Family Dollar is now on the Kent Theatre site

dallasmovietheaters on March 8, 2022 at 1:44 pm

Mae Desmond’s Desmond Theatre had opened October 14, 1922 with live theatre in the long-standing People’s Theatre. She ceased operations in 1926. The former People’s/Desmond building which had opened August 23, 1890 to the plans of George Plowman - was then sold to Mercantile and Stores Properties, Inc. and demolished in 1927. In its place was a $2 million mixed use property containing a proposed Kenton Theatre designed by Hoffman-Hebron later shortened to the Kent Theatre.

The Kent was a $1.4 million investment and leased to the Stanley Circuit for 40 years. It opened January 16, 1928 with Reed Howes in “The Racing Fool.” Stanley Warner closed the Kent Theatre with a double-feature of “Shuttered Room” and “Vengeance of Fu Manchu” on March 5, 1968 at the end of lease. Home to drug dealers and prostitutes, in the late 1980s, the building was razed in February of 1989.

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