Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Donofrio, Mark Edward. (2010). "Preserving the Neighborhood Theatres of William Harold Lee." (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


The American cinema tradition faces pressures to adapt architecturally, economically, and culturally to the postmodern age as Hollywood-oriented megaplexes, the internet, satellite/cable television, and DVD mail delivery services such as Netflix compete with the communal neighborhood theatre. Consequently, each year numerous historic theatres are either demolished or gutted to provide more commercially viable alternatives, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to designate historic American movie theatres as one of the “11 Most Endangered Places” in 2001. Without concentrated efforts to preserve and to adaptively reuse these endangered movie theatres, many theatre proponents argue that cinematic experience will soon become depersonalized and placeless, and communities will lose an important anchor institution to stimulate their urban environments. However, relatively few academic resources offer guidance on how concerned stakeholders can effectively preserve and adaptively reuse such scarce historic resources.


Historic Preservation; Philadelphia, Theatres, William Harold Lee



Date Posted: 10 August 2010