Penypak Theatre

8049 Frankford Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19136

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Additional Info

Architects: William Harold Lee

Functions: Restaurant, Retail

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Holme Theatre

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The Holme Theatre, designed by William H. Lee in 1929, was an Art Deco style movie house that could seat well over 1,300. The theatre stood on Frankford Avenue near Rhawn Street. In its last few years (1946-51) it was called the Penypak Theatre (after nearby Penypack Park). After closing as a theatre in 1959 it served briefly as an auction house. Since then a number of businesses have used it, and in 2015 it is a Pizza Hut and a Dollar Tree store.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 43 comments)

TheaterBuff1 on August 5, 2006 at 1:35 am

Right now much of Holmesburg’s future fate hangs on Independence Pointe and its getting developed the right way. And that right way could be one of two things — either its returning to be a riverside shipping terminal (which is what it was last) or developed with housing and other things in such a way so that the end result isn’t a Katrina/Love Canal disaster combined. And likewise the Holme Theatre building’s future fate hangs on how Independence Pointe gets developed. And with Independence Pointe’s future fate on hold for now, so, too, is the Holme Theatre building’s, which is why the Holme Theatre building is being allowed to serve as a mini mall for now. And the upcoming election between Schwartz and Bhakta (November 2006) has a great deal to do with things as well. Schwartz (who’s the incumbant) fully supports the current plan for Independence Pointe, which will end up being a Katrina/Love Canal disaster when all is said and done, whereby Bhakta is a candidate of real substance and vision. Bhakta actually thinks.

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Here are two interesting views from the Philadelphia Architects & Buildings site. The first is an architectural rendering. Note the different spelling. The second is a 1941 photo from the Irvin Glazer collection:

TheaterBuff1 on January 19, 2008 at 7:08 am

Thanks for providing the two links, Ken MC, while I’d be curious to know if that was the spelling used on the actual marquee. With my only memories being of when it was all boarded up back in the late ‘50s, I don’t recall the name “Pennypack” being alternatively spelled that way. [but of course I wouldn’t, since it was before I’d learned to read yet.] Meantime, to date I have yet to uncover any photo showing it after it went from being the Holme. Local businessman/Holmesburg native Rudy Definis published a book of historic Holmesburg which went on sale in December 2007, but even there it shows the theater only when it was the Holme. I’d love to see how it looked during the post-WWII optimism phase and with the new name given.

TheaterBuff1 on April 30, 2008 at 9:08 am

Yes, that’s so typical of how it is around there now. It’s the current state of the Philadelphia economy, what more can I say?

JGCaughie on December 12, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Glad to see so much interest in my favorite movie theatre. However, in the comments I’ve seen the name is spelled incorrectly. The marquee said PENYPAK – not Pennypack.

I believe it first closed as a movie house in 1951, the reopened April of 1954 with “20,000 Leagues Under the See” as its first feature. I think it closed for good in 1959.

I have fond memories of the Saturday afternoon shows – especially the comedy races. Each kid got a ticket numbered one thru 10 and if your number was the winner of the race, you got a prize.

Also had some good times as a young teenager at Herby’s Auction which I believe was the first business enterprise after the movie house closed.

J. G. Caughie
Former Holmesburg resident

kencmcintyre on June 21, 2009 at 2:25 am

Compare this view to the photos of the facade in January 2006:

TheALAN on December 22, 2013 at 5:10 am

Glad to see that J.G. Caughie, who lived in Holmesburg, remembers that the marquee read PENYPAK – not Pennypack. Thanks!

tennisplayer on December 18, 2014 at 10:19 pm

My father worked there as an usher when he was a young man in Ritz Theater. He was young, 19 or 20. I know he did not work there later in the Depression as he worked in the dye house down on the Pennypack Creek then. He would tell me about it when I was little, how the young boys would try to sneak into the theatre. He also would tell me about the early movies, like Charlie Chaplin. I have a photo of him taken at that time of my father wearing his usher uniform with his fellow ushers however am not sure how to post it here. My father grew up in Holmesburg and I did too.

tennisplayer on December 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I don’t understand why it says Ritz theatre above. My father worked as an usher at the Holme Movie theatre in Holmesburg in 1930.

TheALAN on January 6, 2015 at 12:20 am

Strange thing about this Ritz Theater is that it’s in Port Richmond, New York. And there’s not a clue to what New York’s Port Richmond has to do with Philadelphia’s Port Richmond!

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