By Jennifer Klimowicz and Saleem Ahmed

Northeast: Residents Recall Devon Theater

Northeast: Residents Recall Devon Theater
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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.

After the Devon Theater reopened in 2009, the box office was closed shortly after due to financial troubles.

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.

Outdated show listings begin to peel off of the untouched walls of the Devon Theater.

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.

4 comments on “Northeast: Residents Recall Devon Theater

  1. Ben Cardonick on said:

    Please visit our site www.savethedevon.org and help us save the Devon!!

  2. alan iavecchia on said:

    Please email any backround or news links explaining the shutdown of the Devon Performing Arts Theater and any resolutions of patrons’ credit balances for cancelled shows.

    Thanks for your time and consideration.
    aiavecchia@yahoo.com
    aiavecchia at yahoo dot com

  3. alan iavecchia on said:

    As recently as April 2011, Mayfair Community Development Corp. (CDC) controlled the Devon Theater. In OCT 2009 my dad purchased $432 worth of tickets to four Devon Theater plays/concerts, two of which were subsequently cancelled when the theater collapsed financially in 2010. The refund owed to my father was $275. CDC stonewalled on all refunds, and ignored my request for 3 1/2 months. After I asked CDC about possible Class Action resolution, they immediately issued dad’s refund 3/29/2011. I hate to think how many Mayfairians never got their refunds, especially Senior Citizens.

    General perception/speculation: The Devon was renovated/operated primarily via Harrisburg $$$ controlled by then-honcho John Perzel. His political scandal/loss of power dried up the $$$ pipeline to Devon, whose operators apparently had no business model beyond taxpayer largesse.

  4. Nicole on said:

    I remember taking two buses from Harrowgate to pay my $1.00 for a movie. This was a Sunday Afternoon ritual. Miss it dearly. We knew our “feet would stick to the floor,” part of the charm!

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