The Devon Theater at 6325-43 Frankford Avenue opened in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia in 1946. Some years it featured first-run movies; other years, it showed second-run only. There was an experiment with adult film screenings during the 1970s, but community opposition quashed that.
We asked a Mayfair native in his early 30s if he had any associations with the Devon. “When my parents were kids,” he said, “it showed first-run stuff. By the time I was a kid in the early 1990s, it showed movies things that came out a few months before, and it was maybe a $1.50 for a film. There was a hole in the screen, I don’t know how big. I think I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit there.”
He also remembered being told that during the years when the theater had porn screenings in addition to regular movies, Catholic school kids weren’t allowed to go to the Devon at all–and if you were caught there, you’d get in trouble in school. “Not because you were seeing porn, but because they didn’t want you supporting such a business.”
After a brief flirtation with “classic” films, the theater closed in the late 1990s, to sit vacant for years.
But hope springs eternal in Mayfair. Between 2007 and 2008, the property was completely rehabbed for several million dollars, and The Devon Theater for the Performing Arts opened in 2009. About five shows ran before state funding forced it to close, but it’s still got all that updated AV and lighting equipment.
Now the building is for sale, and according to LoopNet, the premier listing service of commercial properties for sale and lease, it’s one of top 10 that users look at most.
The price tag is pretty low: It’s only a million bucks for 13,462 square feet with 400 seats approved for sports and entertainment use.
• Listing: 6325-43 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia