Castor Theatre

6631 Castor Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19149

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

Amused2death on February 1, 2018 at 7:21 pm

Grew up loving the place. Lived three blocks from it. Best memory was when ET played there for the better part of an entire year. Classic.

Mikecost1031 on February 5, 2017 at 9:35 am

Molly123 was your uncles last name Goldman? If so I knew him well. I worked there part time circa 67. Very interesting man he made a wallet for me which I think I still have.

TheALAN on September 24, 2014 at 4:46 am

The Castor Theatre opened in 1936 and was designed in the Streamline Moderne/Art Deco Style by Thalheimer & Weitz, (Clarence Stern Thalheimer, AIA (1898-1984) & David Daniel Weitz, BS, AIA (1895-1976)), an architectural and engineering firm in Philadelphia. Thalheimer & Weitz also designed the Devon Theatre (c.1946) in Mayfair and Suburban Station (c.1930) in Center City. The theater was constructed by the Golder Construction Co. and included two adjoining retail stores, one on each side. The theater closed in 1989. Today, the marquee remains and reads: CASTOR 99c & UP GROCERY STORE. The adjoining stores (6629 & 6633 Castor Ave.) are now part of the grocery store.

TheALAN on September 24, 2014 at 1:40 am

The Benner Theatre (6054-56 Castor Ave.) had 600 seats vs. Castor’s 446.

TheALAN on December 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

TheaterBluff1: Let’s try this one more time. The Castor Theatre and the Tyson Theater still coexist on Castor Avenue. They are four blocks apart. The Castor Theatre is at 6627-33 Castor Avenue @ Fanshawe Street (between Fanshawe & Unruh Streets). The Castor Theatre opened in 1936 and closed in 1989. After closing, it became a furniture showroom. It is now a 99c and up grocery store.(And no, they never sold furs there)! The Tyson Theater, four blocks north of the Castor, is at 7043 Castor Avenue @ Brighton Street (between Tyson & Princeton Avenues). The Tyson Theater opened in 1940 and closed in August, 1987. In that same year, Mirror firs bought the theater and retained its looks. They even had a mannequin in the box office. Later, a furniture store replaced Mirror. At the end of 2013, the space remains empty. Got it? Finally!

TheALAN on December 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm

TheaterBluff1: You say that Cinema Treasures does not have a page for the UA Grant Plaza Cinema 9. But I just left the UA Grant Plaza page, and there you are, with almost a half page comment on a page that you say doesn’t exist. Did you make a wrong turn on that fantasy highway you travel?

TheALAN on December 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm

The theater is not ghetto but is in a proud working class community. The neighborhood does have a name-Oxford Circle/Castor Gardens-the same name it always had. The alley around back is actually a common driveway. That graffiti is the work of those suburban kids, probably your neighbors! And you don’t have to feel uneasy. That old beat-up looking van belongs to an undercover police officer who lives in one of those tiny row houses. So you see, not everything you see is as it appears!

WilliamWhite on December 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm

My recollection: I “heard” the Castor was built by Ezra Stone who played “Henry Aldridge” on radio. Hey, I could be wrong! The theater was very shallow, just a few rows separated the front from the back row. I believe I saw “Holiday Inn” there. Bill White from “down” Larder St.

TheALAN on December 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

All of the old movie palaces had grand staircases that led to second-floor lounges. Many were furnished and carpeted. Smoking was confined to these areas and the presentation could often be viewed from this vantage point. If you have never experienced one of these venues, you definitely need to get out more!

molly123 on October 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

My uncle Myer was the managerof the Castor for 30 years. My girlfriend (now Wife…41 years and counting) saw a gazillion movies here (free admission) and the other Ellis chain movies like the Tyson, Benner, Hiway, Bala, even the Tower (before the rock and roll shows. Great great momories of Woody Allen, Star Wars, Willard…on and on. Boy do I miss those days, it was such a great neighborhood.

mulvenna on December 30, 2012 at 5:46 am

The Castor Theatre wa the only theatre that I have ever been to in which you had to climb a full flight of steps to get to the ladies or mens bathrooms. They were at the same level as the projection room.

Cinedelphia on January 31, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The Castor had an interesting interior, kind of a forerunner to stadium seating. As I remember, while not being nearly as steep as todays stadium auditoriums, the Castors floor was very steep to the point of having steps. While the Castor apparently had the same number of seats as the Benner, I recall it feeling much smaller and cramped than the Benner.

TheaterBuff1 on June 21, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Based on how it was when I saw it last, that theater is located in a type of blindspot part of the city at this point in time. Not quite ghetto to the one extreme, no longer the proud working class community it once was to the other. And I’m not even sure the community even has a name at this point. During the daytime it’s not too bad around there, but I’m not sure how it is at night. Wouldn’t necessarily want to go find out. Back in 2006 when I took photos of it I went around into the back alley to take pictures of it from that side, and there I felt a bit uneasy. There was graffiti and an old beat-up looking van parked nearby, looking as if used regularly for illegal drug deals, the backs of tiny rowhouses to the other side of the alley. I quickly took my photos and then parted while it was still light out. Haven’t been back since. But if it’s now a 99 cent store, that sounds about right.

kencmcintyre on June 21, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Not yet. I was in Philly last month but the Northeast is out of my jurisdiction.

kencmcintyre on June 21, 2008 at 6:44 pm

I was actually going by the news story on Channel 29, as I mentioned.

kencmcintyre on June 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

That was an interesting clip that Howard posted on 9/4/07. The function is still retail, but the description should state that the Castor is now a 99 cent store.

kencmcintyre on February 25, 2008 at 12:40 pm

There is a 1980 photo on this page. It would have to be 1980 as that’s the only year my Phils have ever been champions in their 125 year history:

TheaterBuff1 on September 4, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Wow, you’re really relishing this, aren’t you, Howard! “Victory is sweet,” as they say. But there’s also the saying, “Be careful what you wish for…”

HowardBHaas on September 4, 2007 at 9:44 am

Shown on Fox TV Channel 29 news last night as a 99 cent store, as part of story on closure of AMC Orleans:
View link

TheaterBuff1 on March 23, 2006 at 5:19 pm

GOOD NEWS! I finally got a chance to make it down to Castor Avenue and Fanshawe Street today (March 23, 2006), and the Castor Theatre building is not only still standing but it looks to be in fairly good shape at that! And yes, it is now a furniture showroom. It’s on the same side of Castor Avenue that the Tyson Theatre is (southeast), and has an identically shaped marquee — triangular. The theater is unusually shaped at the back, though, roundishly cathedral-like. And over all it is very small all told.

TheaterBuff1 on March 16, 2006 at 7:28 pm

That, I suppose, is why few people remember it, particularly when the Tyson, which was great, was so near to it, not to mention the Crest up on Rising Sun Avenue, which was not all that far. So all told, therefore, if the Castor Theatre building is still standing it’s of historic interest only, similar to how it is with Holmesburg’s first movie theater — a silent movie house — which today is in use as Dance Kidz near Frankford & Rhawn.

Incidentally, given how Cinema Treasures does not seem to have a special page for it, does anybody have any familiarity at all with the United Artists Grant Plaza Cinema 9 not all that far north of the Castor Theatre at Grant & Bustleton? Although it’s a multiplex, it appears to be impeccably being taken care of, is still in full operation as a theater — and a first run theater at that — yet is the first theater I’d ever seen in my entire lifetime without a marquee! It’s as if to say if you still want a half-decent theater right here in Northeast Philadelphia to go to, here it is. But shhhhhhh, don’t tell anybody about it…

iobdennis on March 16, 2006 at 5:12 am

I confirm that the Castor was at Castor and Fanshawe, and the Tyson was at Castor and Tyson. I think I may have seen one movie at the Castor. Was it the tiniest movie theater in the world? You’d get a stiff neck having to look up at the screen in this tiny auditorium.

TheaterBuff1 on March 8, 2006 at 6:36 pm

As you can imagine, I did get some photos of the Tyson Theatre building. Over a month ago in fact. And if I can get confirmation that the Castor Theatre building is still there, farther down at Castor and Fanshawe, I’ll be more than happy to go get some photos of that, too.

As for my special attention to theater exteriors, with regard to theaters of the future I regard this aspect to be of extreme importance. My feeling is that the more attention paid to the design of the theater’s exterior, the less the theater operator will have to pay for advertising and promotion. The beauty of the theater’s exterior will be its own advertising. Also, the theater’s exterior must be respectful of and complementary to all that’s around it rather than having an invasive appearance. All of Philadelphia’s greater architecture follows this rule, whereby its lesser architecture disregards it. And oh does the latter look God awful! I call it landscape (or cityscape) iconoclasm. And at present we see examples of this visual assault all throughout Northeast Philadelphia, a trend which this part of the city clearly needs to get beyond, for consciously or subconsciously everyone gets hurt by it. And contrast Northeast Philadelphia at present to, say, Santa Barbara, California, where every new structure must meet full community approval first. That practice should be made standard all throughout the U.S. just as it is now throughout most if not all of modern Europe. And if you read the Reverend S.F. Hotchkins account of how Northeast Philadelphia was in 1893 in a book he wrote called The Bristol Pike, you’ll see how at one time that practice had been standard all throughout this part of the city. It’s not to say all architecture must be fully uniform, that is, of one particular architectural style, for this practice to work, only that contrasting architectural styles should not be in conflict with one another. In Hamburg, Germany — which had been severely bombed in World War II — they rebuilt it in such a way so that buildings that survived from before were blended with all new ultra-modern structures that rose up after the war, and did they ever do a beautiful job of it! And Northeast Philadelphia has it in it to be as good as Hamburg, Germany….er, doesn’t it?

HowardBHaas on March 7, 2006 at 5:34 pm

Unfortunately, architect name isn’t in Glazer’s books on theaters. My W.H. Lee file doesn’t include the Castor in the list of theaters he designed (Note: the list says it may not include them all), so probably not by him. There were at least several architects at the time in Philadelphia well designing Art Deco movie theaters. If & when I see more information, I will share here.

Go visit & photo exterior? and the Tyson, too, Theaterbuff1?

TheaterBuff1 on March 7, 2006 at 4:37 pm

And both became fur and clothing stores after they were no longer theaters and then furniture stores after that? I’m not arguing this couldn’t have been the case, mind you, only that it’s quite a coincidence! (BTW, when in small caps “theatres” should be spelled “theaters,” since this is the U.S.A., and that’s been the correct spelling here, the other incorrect, ever since the time of the American Revolution. The spelling you used is only correct when it’s part of the theater’s name, while we should be respectful of the fact that not all theaters use that spelling in their names.)

Now I’m quite curious what the latest story is with the Castor Theatre building since we’ve established it’s separate and six blocks or so below the Tyson. Do you remember the Castor, Hdtv267? If so, I’m sure we’d all love to hear what memories you have of it. And any chance you or anybody might know who its architect was?