Keswick Theatre records
Held at: Old York Road Historical Society [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Old York Road Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
"The Keswick Theatre first opened its doors on Christmas Night, 1928. Nationally recognized as the most comfortable, acoustically perfect listening room in the entire Philadelphia market, the Keswick was designed by acclaimed architect Horace Trumbauer (who also created the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Initially a combination vaudeville/movie house, the Keswick hosted such legends as Stepin' Fetchit, Paul Robeson and Ina Ray Hutton (Betty's sister) with her all-girl band. In 1955, the theater was remodeled into a cinemascope film house, hosting the area's premiere releases of most of the big-budget movies from the 1950s and '60s. In Spring 1980, the Keswick closed its doors as a movie theater, slated for demolition. The Glenside Landmarks Society, a not-for-profit group, formed with the hope of restoring it to its former grandeur to operate as a performing arts center. [The theatre] re-opened in 1981 with a sold-out concert by Fred Waring and the Young Pennsylvanians. Over the next four years, stars like Roberta Peters, Carlos Montoya, Theodore Bikel, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band graced the stage. The Keswick was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, but the non-profit group wasn't [able] to meet expenses, and closed the theater in December 1985."
The Keswick reopened under private ownership in March 1988. Since then, the theatre has enjoyed a period of revitalization, with extensive building renovations, technological improvements, and seasons of increasingly popular and diversified performances.
Keswick Theatre. "Learn More About Us." Accessed May 9, 2013. http://www.keswicktheatre.com/?page_id=305
This collection includes: newspaper clippings; documents from the Glenside Landmark Society regarding designating the Keswick as a historic site and their operation of the site; a scrapbook of correspondence, principally regarding charitable donations made by Keswick Theatre, theatre events, and student outreach responses; Keswick Theatre tickets, programs, advertisements, and other ephemera; 2006 VHS, "Abington News & Views" episode at the Keswick; research files from book about the Keswick; 2003 guest book; and several photographs.
Accessions 2005.027; 1000.005.26
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Old York Road Historical Society directly for more information.
- Old York Road Historical Society
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Old York Road Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.