Northeast: Residents Recall Devon Theater
Mayfair’s Devon Theater for the Performing Arts may be gone, but its memories live on for many area residents who grew up watching movies at this Frankford Avenue landmark.
The Devon Theater for the Performing Arts was originally known as the Devon Theatre. In December 2009 the Devon Theater for the Performing Arts, on Frankford Avenue and Sterling Street, became another casualty of the recession, joining the ranks of other long-gone Frankford Avenue movie theaters, like the Mayfair, Merben and Holme.
Area residents recalled the movies and plays they’ve seen at the theater over the years.
Kelli Smelser, a Penn Hardware employee, has lived in the community for more than 15 years. She remembers seeing “Footloose” at the Theater in 1984, and later, when it was a playhouse, productions of “The Odd Couple” and “Nunsense.”
Steve Nebel, another long-time Mayfair resident, saw “Terminator II” at the theater when it first came out in 1991.
The theater used to offer $1 movies, said Stephen Kanoff, he’s worked on Frankford Avenue for 48 years.
Despite the nostalgia for cheap movies, The Devon Theater has had its share of troubles over the years. Built in 1946, the original 800-seat movie theater was a favorite among locals. But over the next two decades, multi-screen theaters slowly rendered the single-screen Devon obsolete, and in the late 1960s the struggling theater became an adult movie house.
Ed Lloyd, owner of Lloyd Sixsmith sporting goods, has worked on Frankford Avenue for 33 years and he remembers when the Devon was an eyesore in the community.
“I watched it develop and undevelop,” said Loyd of the theater, which in 1978, finally began airing regular films again.
In 2009, the theater was once again revived, becoming the Devon Theater for the Performing Arts, but shut down last month due to financial troubles.