Sedgwick Theater unlikely candidate for “historic” restoration

The Sedgwick Theater may look like a perfect candidate for historic restoration but because of past alterations it makes it less likely.

A grand past

The historic theater opened in 1928 and has been a landmark building on Germantown Avenue ever since. It remains one of the best examples of art deco architecture both inside and out.

The beauty of the detailed gilded walls, stained glass decorations, and original chandeliers are like stepping back in time. Through the wishes of the original owner and current owners Betty Ann and David Fellner, almost nothing inside has been altered according to Betty Ann.

What previously was the dressing room is still used for the current shows and the original cases for displaying film posters are waiting to be filled.

 

Wear and tear

But time has paid its toll on the building. Leaks have caused areas of the walls to crack, which Betty Ann states, has and inevitably will, cause areas to collapse.

Also in need of repair are the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems.

Betty Ann estimates that a full restoration of the theater is one million dollars.

That level of restoration may never happen. In order to attract that kind of money the theater would first need to be placed on the Historical Commissions Registrar.

One way the Sedgwick can be deemed historical is if it is significant to the city in character or time.

 

Modifications made

While the Sedgwick has some of this, it has undergone several structural changes that may prevent it from getting on the list admits Betty Ann.

The outdoor terrace and ticket booth were removed and converted into a small modern room. Additionally, a cinderblock wall was installed to close off the theater from the lobbies when the theater first closed.

While many would love to see the theater restored to its initial beauty it is not likely to happen anytime in the near future.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.