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Amble On Down to The Ambler Theater – Ambler PA Ambler's Historic Theater!

Posted on: November 18, 2009

2017 Update:

Happy to report that the Ambler is going strong and is even more beautiful than we remembered! The entire town has blossomed, offering a number of places to eat, drink and shop, so plan on spending some extra time in town before your show. 


Ambler Theater - Ambler PA Retro Roadmap 2017

Original 2009 post:

We’re lucky here in Eastern Pennsylvania that we’ve still got a handful of historic movie theaters in our downtowns. I know other folks aren’t able to amble down to Main Street to see a movie, so I try to support these vintage movie theaters when I can.

One that I dig but don’t visit often enough is the Ambler Theater,  in Ambler PA.
Opened in 1928, the Ambler Theater has a Spanish Colonial style facade and a gorgeous 30 foot vertical sign that lights up the quaint main thoroughfare of Ambler. (I will note for purists that the sign is not the original-which was demolished in the late ’60’s- but rather an exact replica installed in 2005.)

Ambler Theater Marquee Ambler PA

I won’t get into the stories of the Ambler’s past,  but you probably know the story by now- theater going affected by TV, changing tastes,  theater in peril, closed, and now re-opened. What I will let you know that The Ambler is now a non-profit theater showing a variety of independent, art, and foreign films.

Ambler Theater Ambler PA - Retro Roadmap

(I was thrilled to be able to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the big screen at the Ambler, and Retro Roadhusband and I have enjoyed some classic cartoons from the collection of local  film preservationist Lou DiCrescenzo, who shares his collection of rare and vintage films with the Ambler Theater.)

There are still some architectural details preserved in the lobby, so take a moment to appreciate them before you head in to your show.

Ambler Theater - Ambler PA Retro Roadmap 2017

Current theatergoing trends in seating and multi-screening have not bypassed the Ambler,  which now has 2 “black box” auditoriums with stadium seating in addition to the grand front auditorium which was re-opened in 2007.

Ambler Theater - Ambler PA Retro Roadmap 2017

Seating 275+  people, the main auditorium features a 30 foot wide movie screen,decorative organ lofts that flank either side of the auditorium, and faux painted beams in the ceiling, made of plaster but meant to look like wood.

Ambler Theater - Ambler PA Retro Roadmap 2017

In this day and age of blockbusters and megaplexes I applaud the volunteers and non-profit folks who saw that that the Ambler was worth saving and hope it continues to warm downtown Ambler with it’s golden glow for years to come.

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  • I love those old cinemas, they look like palaces!

    I wonder if the modern chairs were for fire-safety reasons? I remember hearing that about a cinema in Britain where they had to put in new seating.

    • Richard- Not sure about fire safety for the chairs, I assume it may have something to do with the size of us modern people and our definition of comfort. Reminds me of folks complaining about the original seats at Fenway Park up at home.
      Funny thing you did mention fire safety though because I was just reading up on the history of the Loew’s Theater in Jersey City, and most of their work that looks like marble or wood is actually plaster- for that very reason of fire safety, from back in the day. I almost put that in this story, good call!

  • You’re lucky to have such a great place nearby. We’ve got a palace in Providence that used to be a movie theater, the Providence Performing Arts Center, but it’s used for live shows and concerts now.

    • Gunnar- yep we’re definitely lucky. Even up at home in Mass I can only think of one old theatre that is still open (I think) the Cabot in Beverly that gave me that old timey feel of going to the movies. I remember the Wollaston Theater in Quincy is one that I loved going to, even though it was so run down and sad, I always hoped to win the lottery and open it back up again.
      My first exposure to any of these old theaters was going to a concert at The Orpheum in Boston when I was in high school, and later a show at the Opera House. Ever since then I’ve been hooked!