Bala Theatre

Egyptian Theater Interior, Bala Cynwyd

Egyptian (Bala) Theatre

Bala Theatre detail

Egyptian (Bala) Theatre

Bala Theater

Bala Theatre

163 Bala Avenue, Bala Cynwyd

Constructed in 1926 to showcase vaudeville acts, this theater was originally called “The Egyptian.” Architects Hoffman and Henon designed the theatre for owner Patrick Lawlor, who spent lavishly to build it. The elaborate exterior is adorned with terra cotta tile and colorful detailing. Its imposing scale anchors the Bala Avenue District.

Unlike most buildings within this commercial area, the Bala Theatre is designated by the township as a Class 2 historic resource.

When the building was converted to a triplex theater in the 1990s, much of the original decoration was preserved. As the building ages, the challenge of maintaining such a structure threatens the preservation of its historic integrity. As an income- producing building, the Bala Theatre is a potential candidate for federal and state historic tax credits. This could provide significant savings for restoration and rehabilitation work.

As the Bala Avenue District redevelopment and rezoning process moves forward, a goal to preserve the historic character of this street depends a great deal on this building. A vibrant and well-maintained building of this scale adds significant value. There is concern in the community about ongoing maintenance of the building, as disharmonious alterations and patchwork repairs have been observed. As other local theaters, such as the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, undergo restoration and reclaim their roles as community gathering places, the Bala Theatre awaits its return to prominence.