Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

The Seville Theater, which opened in 1926, was once a focal point of the Village of Bryn Mawr. After a steady decline in the late decades of the 20th century, a grassroots campaign emerged in 2002 to block the historic movie theater’s conversion into a fitness center, which in turn led to the creation of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute with a mission to purchase and restore the theater into a motion picture theater and film education center. VMA was involved at the beginning, creating a phased master plan for the building’s renovation, restoration and expansion, as well as preservation-related services like getting it recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and helping with grant applications to support its rebirth.

Initial efforts were placed towards re-establishing Theater’s presence with a new marquee, refreshed finishes, and a new cafe. The second phase of work focused on making the entire complex usable to the Institute, including restoring the dramatic entrance arcade, adding an elevator, and renovating the second floor as office space. The final phase involved refurbishing the two existing theaters, constructing an addition with two additional screens, and installing digital projection systems. The ten-year project transformed the underutilized movie theater into a vibrant film institute with the capacity to engage the local community and ever-increasing membership base.


Preservation Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards, Initiative Award - Stewardship, 2016
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Grand Jury Award, 2009
Historical Commission of Lower Merion Township, Lower Merion Township Historic Preservation Award, 2007


  • “BMFI Enters Final Phase of its Restoration and Renovation Project” by Cheryl Allison. Main Line Media News, 1 July 2010.
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Size: 23,000 sf
Budget: $10 million


Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation, Planning

Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

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