Preservation Wire: It Looks Like the Boyd Theatre’s Art Deco Lobby Will Stay

Is the tower project moving ahead?


Last week, we put you on to some interesting notices on the 1900 block of Chestnut Street in what could be the next step towards a 26-story tower developed by Pearl Properties. Orange demolition stickers were physically hung on 1902 and 1904 Chestnut Street, meaning those entire buildings are going to come down. Permits filed for the Boyd Theatre weren’t necessarily as clear. Sure, demolition was going to take place at the former movie palace, but to what extent?

PlanPhilly’s Ashley Hahn unearthed some site plans for the demolition (seen here), which look to show some good news in terms of preserving at least some of the history of the building:

Demolition plans recently submitted to Historical Commission indicate Pearl intends to raze most of the Boyd’s auditorium but retain the entire historic lobby – one of the theatre’s most richly decorated and iconic spaces.

Of course, the facade will also remain, as it was placed on the city’s historic register in 2008. That “ornamental” practice is rapidly becoming a thing. Aside from the Boyd, a similar scenario is taking place at the Royal Theater on South Street, where Carl Dranoff plans to keep the front and build high-end rental units and a retail space behind it. It also could possibly happen at the Legendary Blue Horizon on North Broad, where developers are still kicking around a hotel idea in place of the historic, but apparently not too historic, boxing hall.

The apparent preservation of the lobby would definitely be a win, especially if it’s restored and not gutted. Inga Saffron said it was “probably the best place in the theater,” in her Changing Skyline piece about the future of the Boyd from December:

[I]t is sheathed from floor to ceiling in etched mirrors, and includes a mural celebrating the history of women’s achievement, quite an unusual subject for 1928.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens at the site. Pearl Properties didn’t respond to a request for comment, but we’ll be sure to update you if more information becomes available.

Get at us: