Rialto Theatre

6153 Germantown Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19144

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Stanley-Warner Theatres

Architects: William Harold Lee, David Supowitz

Functions: Church

Previous Names: Tulpehocken Theatre

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Rialto Theatre

Originally opened as the Tulpehocken Theatre in 1914, it was equipped with an Austin 2 manual 16 ranks organ. It was renamed Rialto Theatre in early-1916. It was remodeled in Art Deco style in 1931 by William H. Lee and in 1938 had another remodel, this time in a Streamline Moderne style to the plans of architect David Supowitz. The Rialto Theatre closed on September 15, 1959 with Victor Mature in “The Big Circus” & Joel McCrea in “The Gunfight at Dodge City”. In 1960 it was converted into a church, which is still housed there today.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

veyoung52 on January 21, 2005 at 11:45 pm

Used to be operated by the Stiefel family which at one time also operated the Philadelphia Uptown. The son, Arnold Stiefel, became an Hollywood agent, including among his clients Clint Eastwood. Mr. Stiefel was also the producer of the film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”

DennisMcG on June 1, 2006 at 1:39 pm

The Rialto Theatre was opened as the Tulpehocken Theatre in 1914 at 6153 Germantown Avenue (Germantown Avenue & Tulpehocken Street). It was built at a cost of $20,000. It was a 834 seat theatre that was remodeled in the Art Deco style in 1931 by William H. Lee (a major theatre builder at the time) and given the new name “Rialto Theatre”. As with many of Germantown’s theatres and despite its smaller size, this was built as a vaudeville house with a stage for live shows as well as movies. In the early years as the Tulpehocken Theatre, live shows was its primary purpose. Eventually, it sole purpose was as a movie theatre. It closed in 1957 and, in 1960, was converted into a church, which is still housed there today. The facade was totally remodeled to the point where you cannot tell that it was a theatre at one time. Unlike some of the remodeling of these old theatre facades, this one actually looks nice.

kencmcintyre on June 26, 2009 at 9:48 pm

This is supposed to be a Rialto in Philadelphia in 1940. if it looks like the one on Germantown Avenue, let me know.

teegee on September 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm

That probably is the Rialto. I’m not familiar with the theater, but the street appears to be belgian block (cobblestone) with trolley tracks in it. That’s what Germantown Avenue is at that location.

Jim on December 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Ken MC – That is the Rialto theater in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. The street with Belgium blocks and trolley tracks is Germantown Avenue. The 23 Trolley line ran there, at that time the longest trolley line entirely within a city limits in the world. The adjoining street is East Tulpehocken Street, where my mother was born in 1915. I saw the Creature From the Black Lagoon in that theater in 1954. It was a lovely little theater. You walked straight in from the entrance, slightly uphill. The theater was all to the right. Thanks for posting it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm

The February 19, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had this notice:

“Philadelphia, Pa. — The Tulpehocken theater located at the corner of Tulpehocken street and Germantown avenue, has been renamed the Rialto.”

dallasmovietheaters on March 1, 2022 at 2:01 pm

The theatre at Germantown and Tulpehocken was announced in 1913 as part of a $95,000 project. It sat unfinished and in foreclosure in latter 1913 and into 1914 when Bader & Simpson Co. completed the project. Constantly changing hands in rapid succession in its first 18 months, the theatre was labeled as a “failure” by the trade press. But in February of 1916, the Tulpe was taken over by Stanley Mastbaum as an early Stanley Corp. venue and renamed then as the Rialto.

Mastbaum had the right answer and the Rialto became a success. It was wired for sound to remain viable. It received a streamlined makeover in 1938 to the plans of David Supowitz. The Rialto Theatre closed September 15, 1959 at end of lease with “The Big Circus” and “Gunfight at Dodge City.”

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