Q&A with Howard Haas, Friends of the Boyd founder

Howard B. Haas
Howard B. Haas

As we explained in our last “Buildings Then and Now” feature, the Boyd Theater off Rittenhouse Square is the city’s last surviving movie palace, known for its distinctive Art Deco architecture. The theater has sat empty since it closed in 2002, but the Friends of the Boyd seeks to bring the theater back to life. We spoke with Howard B. Haas, the Friends’ founder and chairman, about his organization’s hopes and plans for the building.

Q: What kind of plans do the Friends have in store for the theater so far?

A: Friends of the Boyd has worked for the restoration and protection of Center City Philadelphia’s last surviving movie palace, the Boyd Theater. Preliminary renovations were performed by Clear Channel, including removal of non-original features and a paint mock-up in the auditorium to demonstrate the beautiful original Art Deco colors.

Q: What kind of events are you planning on holding at the theater?

A: We will strive for programming, which will include operating a film series, public tours, exhibits and community access.

The Boyd Theater
The object of the Friends' affection: Philly's last surviving first-run movie palace

Q: Why is it so important for Philadelphia to know exactly about the Boyd Theater?

A: Nearly every U.S. city has restored and reopened, for entertainment, at least one premiere motion picture palace. The Boyd Theatre is not only Philadelphia’s last premiere motion picture palace but has also been hailed as an “Art Deco masterpiece” and as a “national treasure.”

Q: What would you encourage others in Philadelphia to do to help the Boyd Theater?

A: Individuals are encouraged to visit our website in order to enter their contact information to receive our free weekly update emails and our mailings, and also to ‘like’ and follow our Facebook page.

Haas also emphasized that funding is also greatly needed and appreciated.

“Frankly, in these days following the worst recession since the Great Depression, both the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are cash-strapped. A philanthropist willing to help with the Boyd Theater can play a major role in restoring the closed movie palace so it can again be a cultural gem for the Philadelphia region.”

-By Jazminn Jones for PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com