Documentary About “Lost” Theaters of Newark, NJ

posted by ronmerk on January 30, 2006 at 5:03 am

As part of a three-part documentary that I’m making about my hometown, Newark, NJ, I’m making a section about the “lost” theaters of Newark. As a kid growing up in the mid-50s, I spent many hours watching movies both in the neighborhood theaters, the Tivoli and the Plaza, as well as the downtown Newark movie palaces.

I call the Newark theaters “lost” because not one theater that was operating in Newark when I was young is operating today. Some are still there, probably in some state of arrested decay, but many are gone.

I’m looking specifically for film, slides, stills, newpaper clippings or any information about the Tivoli on Orange Street, The Plaza on North 7th Street, as well as the downtown theaters: RKO Proctors, Loew’s State, Branford, Adams, Paramount, Little, etc. Please contact me and let me know what you have. Thanks.

Comments (35)

BobFurmanek on January 30, 2006 at 10:41 am

We went through the Tivoli while it was being demolished. In fact, the lobby was already gone. (The theater had closed after the riots in the late 60’s, and was an absolute mess.) During the demolition, the stage wall collapsed onto a house behind the theater. I don’t think anyone was hurt as it happened during the day when nobody was home.

Good luck and please keep us posted on your project. It’s a shame what happened to Newark and all those great theaters.

ronmerk on January 30, 2006 at 12:44 pm

Thanks for your note, Bob. By any chance did you take any photos of the Tivoli, even in this terrible state? If so, I’d love to see them.

tibiarex on January 30, 2006 at 7:55 pm

You will find a recording of the Tivoli’s organ on my Virtual Radiogram View link

Scroll down to Harold Reider and then click on the song title. This might give you some “local colour” for the musical background

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 31, 2006 at 2:38 am

This isn’t directly responsive to your request, but you may want to get in touch with David Guss who put together the Lost Theatres of Somerville museum exhibit and website. Different city, different media, but same idea as yours.

BobFurmanek on January 31, 2006 at 4:08 am

Ron; yes, I did take some slides. Let me dig those out of storage, and I’ll post them.

ArchStanton007 on January 31, 2006 at 4:48 am

Best of luck to you and local historical societies can likely provide good materials. You can also place wanted ads for free on The local newspapers might also do a story about you seeking the artifacts.

The NY Daily News runs tiny ads for two porno theaters in Newark which must be the only remaining ones on the east coast. True ??

Good Luck to you.

ronmerk on January 31, 2006 at 4:49 am

Will you send them by e-mail, or do you want to loan me the slides to scan? Let me know, and I’ll give you appropriate addresses either way. Thanks for being willing to help.

BobFurmanek on January 31, 2006 at 5:15 am

Hi Ron,

No, they’re stereo slides and I’ll get them scanned. It’s going to take me a little while to get them as I have them in storage. I’ll get in touch just as soon as I can find them.


ronmerk on February 3, 2006 at 9:04 am

Thanks to Bob Furmanek, Tommy R., Ron Newman and Ian McIver for their comments. I’ve checked out all your suggestions. Always happy to hear from other folks about my project. Sure wish we could find some moving pictures of these Newark theaters. Ron

Dorothy on February 27, 2006 at 4:14 am

I dont have moving pix but a few stills, poster, newspapers ads for Adams, Empire (and Hudson UC) as mom did the burlesque circuit

I presume you are already aware of this site, but just in case:

ronmerk on February 27, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Dear Dorothy,
Would love to have 300 dpi scans of anything you have. Please let me know if this is possible? Yes, I do know about the Old Newark Site. Thanks. I do remember as a kid in the mid-50s seeing the ads for the Empire and Minsky’s Burlesque in the Newark Star Ledger and the Newark Evening News. Of course, I had no idea what they actually did on stage. It was probably pretty tame compared to what one can see today. The only names I remember are Lili St. Cyr and Tempest Storm (my favorite stage name of all time). Ron

PaulGlickman on September 21, 2006 at 6:23 am

If this is the Ron Merk who was producer/director of the Pinnochio films of the 70’s. Get in touch with Paul Glickman.

Cosmopolite on February 10, 2007 at 10:22 am

I was in Roseville this week. The marquee of the former Plaza reads Emanuel Christian Church in English and Spanish. The door was open so I walked-in. The building has been renovated. Stage and balcony in place with new theatre-type seats. The only person on site was an electrician who knew nothing about the church’s former use.

dnice808 on March 21, 2007 at 8:27 am

I am a student at NJIT and looking into the theaters in Newark, for a project. I am interested in your work. Are you still gathering information. I have ran into several road block, I have utilise services from the NJ Historic Society and the Newark Public Library, Charles Cummings Collections, with limited results. Can you point me to in the right direction.

Please let me know.



Lissette on August 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Can anyone tell me the name of the theatre that used to be on the corner of Broadway and Elwood Avenue in Newark? It was demolished when I was about 4 or 5 (I was born in 1973) and is now the site of a White Castle. Just curious. Thanks.

Lissette Valentín

Ron Merk
Ron Merk on October 22, 2009 at 4:25 am

Hi, I’m still working on the theaters of Newark project, but have really run in to a wall trying to find photos and/or film of Newark’s theaters in operation during their heyday from the 1940s through late 50s. Has anyone been able to locate anything? As part of my project about Newark, I recently bought 50 feet of 16mm kodacrhome film of the Bamberger’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1944. Stuff about Newark is really scarce. Any help, please write me at Thanks.

TLSLOEWS on May 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Good luck on you book.

russellgallion on June 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The theater at Broadway and Elwood place was the “Elwood"
and, for a neighborhood movie house, was really beautiful.
I went there many times in the late forties.
I also worked at Loews State while in Nutley high school, and
was asst mgr there in early fifties. Murray Sharf was mgr at that
time. I also was asst mgr at Loews Jersey for a while and am glad to hear
it has been preserved, as this is one of the truly great movie palaces
of the east. by Gallion 6/13/10

russellgallion on June 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

The theater at Broadway and Elwood place was the “Elwood"
and, for a neighborhood movie house, was really beautiful.
I went there many times in the late forties.
I also worked at Loews State while in Nutley high school, and
was asst mgr there in early fifties. Murray Sharf was mgr at that
time. I also was asst mgr at Loews Jersey for a while and am glad to hear
it has been preserved, as this is one of the truly great movie palaces
of the east. by Gallion 6/13/10

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