The Merriam Theater is now called the Miller Theater

The Merriam Theater on South Broad Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Merriam Theater on South Broad Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Merriam Theater on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts is now called the Miller Theater.

The name change is in honor of Alan B. Miller, a founding board member of the Kimmel Center who donated an undisclosed amount of money toward restorations and upgrades of the 104-year-old theater. He stepped down from the board in 2016.

Miller is also the founder of Fortune 500 company Universal Health Services, a multi-billion dollar, King of Prussia-based company providing hospital and health care services. He stepped down as its CEO last year.

“To be associated with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center by offering my family’s namesake to the iconic Merriam Theater is a privilege,” Miller said. “I am delighted to be able to support the Avenue of the Arts in this way and hope that generations to come will enjoy the experiences offered here.”

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The Miller Theater was originally called the Shubert Theater when it was built in 1918 by theater producers Lee and J.J. Shubert. It was renamed as the Merriam Theater in 1991 after a wealthy board member, John W. Merriam, in honor of his financial support of upgrades and renovations at that time, when it was owned by the University of the Arts.

The Kimmel Center acquired the theater from UArts in 2016.

The president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Matías Tarnopolsky, said renovations to the Miller Theater will likely commence in the summer of 2023.

“There’s a long list of needs and wants,” Tarnopolsky said. “We’re just now beginning the evaluation process to see what are the most important things that we need to do, especially around the audience experience and making sure that the theater can be restored to its former glory.”

Tarnopolsky said there are still more Kimmel Center buildings that he would like to see re-named for generous donors.

“We’re exploring all avenues about potential future opportunities,” he said.

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The old Merriam Theater sign is still on the building. Tarnopolsky said temporary signage will be added to the building this weekend, proclaiming its new name until a more permanent marquee can be installed.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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