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SAMERIC CORPORATION CHESTNUT ST. v. CITY PHILADELPHIA (05/02/89)

decided: May 2, 1989.

SAMERIC CORPORATION OF CHESTNUT ST., INC., APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PHILADELPHIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Sameric Corporation of Chestnut St., Inc. v. Philadelphia Historical Commission, No. 3955 April Term, 1987.

COUNSEL

J. Shane Creamer, with him, Richard A. Sprague, Hugh J. Bracken and Leslie M. Thoman, Sprague, Higgins & Creamer, for appellant.

Maria L. Petrillo, Chief Assistant City Solicitor, with her, Seymour Kurland, City Solicitor, and Ralph Teti, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 521]

Sameric Corporation (Sameric) is the owner of a motion picture theatre in downtown Philadelphia. It appeals the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court orders which dismissed its challenge to a Philadelphia Historical Commission (Commission) decision*fn1 and denied post-trial

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 522]

    relief. This is a case of first impression in this Commonwealth.

The Commission held public hearings and concluded that Sameric's Boyd Theatre merited historic designation. The Commission found that the building was the work of a prominent Philadelphia architectural firm and that the theatre's exterior and interior remained a rare example of a substantially "intact Art Deco movie palace" representing a significant phase in American cultural history.*fn2

On appeal, Sameric argues that substantial evidence does not support the Commission's designation of the theatre's exterior as historic. It also argues that the commission exceeded its authority by including the theatre's interior in that designation.*fn3

Initially, we hold that the testimony of Dr. David Brownlee,*fn4 a commission member, supports the commission's

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 523]

    determination that the building exterior*fn5 merited preservation under the statutorily specified criteria.*fn6 Although Sameric provided evidence that the exterior's art deco design had undergone significant alterations,*fn7 the record discloses that the ...


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