I recently was able to participate in a photography workshop at the Lansdowne Theater with photographer Valerie Hoffman. This beautiful old theater has suffered the ravages of time like so many other old buildings in our area, but thanks to the establishment of the non-profit organization, The Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation, the theater has been undergoing some much needed repair.
The theater was designed by prominent theater architect William H. Lee and opened its doors on June 1, 1927. Several retails stores were also connected to theater. Tenants included a florist, bootery, a furniture store, and a tailor. The theater was mostly a movie venue but also hosted some live performances.
The theater has changed ownership a few times over the years but remained operational through 1986, when it was purchased by a Philadelphia attorney and local resident, Jerry Raff. Raff closed the theater in 1986 for cosmetic repairs. Shortly after reopening, there was an electrical fire at one of the adjoining retail shops. The electrical system to the theater suffered major damage. Raff and his associates tried to fix the damage but lacked the financial means.
The theater sat languishing until the Greater Lansdowne Civic Association and the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation were able to create the Historic Lansdowne Theater Cooperation. Through grants, donations they were able to purchase the theater and hope to one day be able to open again.
There are so many beautiful photographic opportunities from the magnificent theater itself to the projector and film rooms. Workshops like the one I participated in provide funds to help restore this majestic beauty.
If you would like to find out more information about the Historic Lansdowne Theater visit Lansdowne Theater’s website.