Ogontz Theatre

6033 Ogontz Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19141

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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, Louis Magaziner

Firms: Hoffman-Henon Co., Magaziner, Eberhard, and Harris

Styles: Spanish Renaissance

Previous Names: Orgontz Playhouse

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Ogontz Theatre

The Ogontz Theatre was built for Samuel Shapiro in 1926-27, designed by the firm of Hoffman-Henon Co. in association with the firm of Magaziner, Eberhard & Harris. It was opened February 4, 1927 with George Sydney in “The Auctioneer”. The Kimball 3 manual 15 ranks theatre organ was opened by organist Karl Bonawitz, and it had an electric grand piano. The proscenium was 34ft wide. Two weeks after opening it was purchased by the Stanley-Warner Theatres chain. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. The 1,777 seat Ogontz Theatre was closed as a movie theatre on March 9, 1952 with Cary Grant in “Room for One More” & Van Johnson in “Invitation”.

In 1954 it reopened screening religious movies and it soon closed. In 1958 a thrust stage was added and it reopened as a live theatre playing ‘Off Broadway’ type shows as the Orgontz Playhouse, but this only lasted a short time. Rock ‘n Roll concerts were the final use for the theatre, which finally closed in 1961. The building then stood vacant and vandalized until it was demolished in 1985.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

raymondgordonsears on November 12, 2004 at 1:40 pm

This theatre after it stopped showing films sat empty but then became a stage theatre. They tried to bring in plays/musicals and rock n rolls shows (like the Uptown) It didn’t last long because of the area. At one point I tried to lease the theatre for movies but when StanleyWarner closed a theatre they just tour everything out so it could not be used as a movie house. rg

teecee on March 7, 2005 at 6:59 am

Thumbnails at this link, don’t try to expand without a paid subscription:
View link

kencmcintyre on February 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

Here are two expanded views of the PAB thumbnails posted on 3/7/05. The photos are from the Irvin Glazer collection. The marquee in the first photo says “City of David”, but I’m not sure if that was a film:

TheALAN on January 16, 2014 at 5:09 pm

This theater was built with two stores to the front of the auditorium on Ogontz Avenue, one on each side of the theater foyer/lobby.

A roof sign framed in chase lights read OGONTZ in incandescent bulbs. The two vacant lines beneath OGONTZ probably read PHOTOPLAYS and VAUDEVILLE as this sign was very similar to the roof sign of the Oxford Theatre in Burholme. Both theaters staged vaudeville.

The marquee was three sided. The front had a neon sunburst behind the lettering OGONTZ THEATRE. The sides (or ends) had the lettering OGONTZ above the signboard and featured individual letters that actually plugged into the signboard and lit up. Chase lights outlined all three sides. Today it’s an empty lot between the Ogontz Free Library of Philadelphia and Ed’s Pizza House.

Does anyone know what style this theater was built in?

rivest266 on October 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

This opened on February 4th, 1927. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section for this theatre.

dallasmovietheaters on February 12, 2022 at 7:08 pm

The Ogontz Theatre opened February 4, 1927 with “The Auctioneer” and an organ program. It was a one million dollar theatre and was purchased by Stanley just two weeks after it had opened. It forced the hand of another It would transition the Ogontz to sound to stay relevant. Stanley-Warner closed here after showtimes on March 29, 1952 with “Room for One More” and “Invitation.”

The Ogontz rebranded as a religious movie house known as “Philadelphia’s Reel Pulpit” in 1954 as the final film screenings. Charles Teller formed Cor-Tel Production and took on the Ogontz Theatre. Under their watch, it became a live venue starting with plays as the Ogontz Playhouse in 1958 and then moving to rock ‘n’ roll shows in 1961 returning to the Ogontz Theatre.

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