How fond memories of a 1970s sci-fi flick is helping shape city policy

Mayor Nutter’s press office just released a statement of support for efforts to preserve the historic Boyd Theater on Chestnut Street. The site, which has been eyed by a number of developers, some of whom have had pretty cozy relationships with past mayors, has recently been designated as one of the most endangered historic buildings in America.

The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, in an attempt to save the Boyd, submitted a nomination to the city’s Historical Commission requesting that the building be designated as an historical building. In the letter to the owner, Clear Channel Entertainment, the Historical Commission explains what such a designation could mean:

Designation entails some restrictions. To ensure authenticity and compatibility, the Commission reviews all proposed alterations to historic resources. The Commission also has jurisdiction over the issuance of demolition permits for historic properties.

The letter goes on to say that the Historical Commission assumes that jurisdiction immediately and that if the Commission does in fact designate the building as historic, that jurisdiction will continue.

Anyway, it appears the Boyd is safe for now.

Nutter, in urging the Commission to grant the historic designation at its July 16th meeting, mentioned his own personal history with the Boyd (aka Sameric):

“The Boyd Theater, which opened in 1928, is a cherished institution in this City. It is the last remaining example of the major movie theaters that were once prominent in Center City and which were an important part of the economic, social, and cultural life of the City in the early to mid-twentieth century. For so many of us Philadelphians, the Boyd is an entertainment venue that holds many fond memories. In fact, the Boyd is the place where I first saw that great film Rollerball. I hope that the Historical Commission will give a thorough evaluation of this structure’s importance to our City, and I pledge to work with them to preserve this building.”

Ah, Rollerball, coming to the rescue of yet another historic movie house.

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