We've been fascinated by old movie theaters for as long as we can remember. There's just something about that old marquee that transports us to a time long before we were born, before megaplexes, when movie premieres were a thing and people actually got dressed up to go to see a picture. In those days, of course, our fine city was littered with hundreds of cinemas, the majority of which are now demolished. But a few have lingered, and even though most don't look anything like they did when they were first built, we're grateful that they're still around. Take, for example, 1529 Chestnut St., the former Arcadia Theater. Now it's home to a new Five Below.
According to Cinema Treasures, the Arcadia Theater opened in 1915, built by Alexander R. Boyd. Over the years it was sold several times and repeatedly renovated, and it was expanded into the building next door by 1967. It became a Gino's restaurant in 1978, and eventually turned into a Roy Rogers which lasted into the 1990s. For years it sat vacant, and then Mandee became a tenant around 2005. That store closed a couple years ago, as did the catering facility and event space upstairs. And just yesterday, the newest tenant, Five Below, opened their doors.
We stuck our head in the door (admittedly, this was our first time visiting a Five Below), and found a two-floor store overflowing with inexpensive stuff. They have clothing, candy, phone accessories, a toy section, a fitness section, and tons of other stuff that our senses were unable to process during our brief visit. Check out this peek inside, at the first floor:
The best thing about this place (aside from $1 greeting cards) can be found on the second floor. Though the outside of the building retains virtually no trace of its history aside from the marquee, Five Below has maintained what looks like some of the cinema's original ceiling. It doesn't really fit in with the look of the rest of the store but we do not care.
If you'd like to feel a connection to a hundred year old building, we suggest you check this out in person. And if you go today and buy something, they'll give you a free t-shirt!