Memories of Paterson’s U.S. Theatre
PATERSON, NJ — The U.S. Theatre was located in the heart of downtown Paterson, New Jersey. In the early 1900s, Paterson was the textile center of the United States and the bustling city proudly built the U.S. Theatre, Fabian Theatre, Garden Theatre, Rivoli Theatre, State Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, and Majestic Theatre. The two most outstanding, both in architecture and elegance, were the U.S. Theatre and the Fabian Theatre.
As one entered the lobby of the U.S. Theatre, the coming attraction display cases were encrusted in gold leaf. The main auditorium glistened with its burgundy velvet, oil paintings on silk twelve feet in height, and clouds on the theater ceiling that slowly drifted by as one awaited the beginning of the show.
The second floor mezzinine was built in a horseshoe with elegant railings that looked down into the main auditorium. Stairs then took patrons to the seating and from there one could enter the balcony area with seating, a bit less in luxury, but with a good view of the screen.
Early on, before being a premier movie-house, the theater was home to concerts, opera, and grand orchestras, with its full deep stage which housed the sets, props, old orchestra arrangements, and other art objects that are now gone forever.
I grew up as a kid at the U.S. Theatre, as my father was the general manager of that grand palace from 1938 until his death in 1956. Memories have never left me. As a kid, sitting in the darkness in those velvet seats was comforting then, and the memories are still there today. Growing up in my dad’s theater held some of the most interesting memories one could have.
My dad had some interesting fun “live” stage guests tied to some feature films including, Bela Lugosi (I met him at my dad’s office, and he swept me under his cape and said, “Goooood evening littleee boyyy.”) I didn’t sleep for months. Also, Bob Keesham, the original ‘Clarabelle the Clown’ and others. I could go on and on…. but this is enough for starters.