A new lease on life
Camden group turning old theater into gym, teen center
BY DEBORAH HIRSCH • COURIER-POST STAFF • APRIL 24, 2010
CAMDEN — From the outside, the former silent movie theater on the southern end of Broadway is just another scar in a city wounded by thousands of abandoned buildings.
Paint peels off the facade of “The Star,” which blends into whats left of two burned-out row homes next door.
But inside, there are signs of renewal amid the dust.
The Heart of Camden, a nonprofit community development agency, has set up shop in the building. Their new offices are the first physical sign of progress in a long-awaited plan to refurbish this historic theater.
Eventually, the cavernous space will reopen to the public as a community gym and teen center.
Thats at least a year and a half away. But Heart of Camden Executive Director Helene Pierson says momentum on the project could lead to visible improvements in the neighborhood even sooner.
The Star was one of several silent movie theaters in Camden when it was built circa 1924. After closing down in the 60s, the building was converted to an athletic club. It later became a bingo hall and even a day care before it was deserted five years ago. Once empty, vandals gutted the interior. A fire destroyed almost everything else that was left.