The Uptown Theater is undergoing renovations that could allow it to re-open as a concert venue.
The theater, located on north Broad Street just north of Temple University’s main campus, hosted musical legends like the Isley Brothers, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye during the venues glory days.
Of the $3 million raised, most will go to the rehabilitation of the structure of the building, which has been vacant since the theater closed its doors in 1978.
Linda Richardson of Uptown Entertainment Development Corporation, Inc. hopes to re-open the lobby to start, followed by a small section of seating. She hopes to hold events there.
It got its start as a movie theater in the 1930s. It grew in to a Philadelphia cultural icon as a music venue, Richardson said.
“What we’re trying to do is revive the community which was thriving in the late 60s and early 70s when the Uptown was in its hey day,” Richardson said.
Martin Rosa, a lifelong resident of the North Philadelphia neighborhood, recalled a time in which the Uptown was in the same league as the Apollo in New York.
“The streets were crowded,” Rosa said. “They had shows in and out, people coming from Jersey and even from New York. If they do open it back up, hopefully we’ll still be alive and we’ll get to enjoy it. If not, it’ll always be there. That’s a monument. They’ll never tear that down.”
He hopes to see that notoriety brought back to the community.
– Video, text and image by Rob DiRienzo.