DF Gibson Architects is preparing for Haddon Township, New Jersey a feasibility study and preservation plan for the restoration and re-use of the historic Westmont Theatre building. The firm will help the township determine how to best preserve the historic elements of the building and what uses would be economically viable and beneficial to the local South Jersey community.
The Westmont Theatre was originally built in by Morris Handel and AJ Ravner and opened on September 5, 1927 with a showing of Lon Chaney’s The Unknown. After intermittent success during the 1930’s and early 40’s, the theate was closed during World War II. After undergoing a design change in 1949 by Philadelphia architect David Supowitz, the theatre re-opened on Thanksgiving Day 1949. During the 1950’s, one of the local residents who attended movies at the Westmont was none other than a young Steven Spielberg. It has been reported that Spielberg’s viewing of the Cecil B. deMille classic The Greatest Show on Earth at the Westmont was among his inspirations for becoming a film maker. Also, a young Michael Landon (then named Eugene Orowitz) was an usher at the Westmont, which was managed by his father. Another renovation in the 1979 turned the Westmont into a “twin theatre”. In the late 1990s, the township purchased the theatre building from the Living Arts Reparatory Theater Group and it closed shortly thereafter.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to help restore this valuable resource.” Said David Gibson, AIA, president of DF Gibson Architects. “Historic movie theaters provide an important link to the evolution of the motion picture industry and its impact on the cultural and architectural heritage of the nation. Our team will work closely with the community to develop alternatives that both preserve the historic character and elements of this building while creating a facility that will be economically viable and serve the people of the Township.”
DF Gibson Architects will be supported by Shuler Shook, Inc. of Minneapolis as theater design consultant and Birdsall Services Group (BSG) of Sea Girt, NJ for engineering services. Shuler Shook is among the leading theatre design consultancies and has worked on the restoration of more than thirty historic theatres nationally. BSG is one of New Jersey’s leading full service engineering firms with eight offices located throughout the state.
DF Gibson Architects is a full service architectural firm serving public, private and institutional clients in the New Jersey and New York. Among the firm’s projects include the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island, Lambert Castle in Paterson, The South Bronx Job Corps Center for the US Department of Labor, Thomas Edison State College Townhouse Restoration in Trenton and Eberhardt Hall at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
For Further Information Contract
Michael McCann, FSMPS, CPSM
Director of Business Development
DF Gibson Architects, PC
36 West 37th Street, Penthouse
New York, NY 10018
212.400.6210 tel./212.937.8503 fax.