Photos/stories on long-lost Bridgeport-area theaters?

posted by Jim Vecchio on June 12, 2006 at 10:04 am

BRIDGEPORT, CT — I’ve just become aware of several theaters in the Bridgeport area that are now just long-departed memories, but I was hoping there might be someone around to share some of these memories (or perhaps even photos). If there is anyone who has any info on the following, I would appreciate it: the ASTORIA, on 571 Newfield Avenue, BULL’S HEAD, on 1737 Main street, CRESCENT, 875 Main Street, ELK, 1071 Main Street, FAIRAY, on 2782 Fairfield Avenue, GEM on 235 East Washington Avenue, IMPERIAL on 515 Union Avenue, ORIOLE on 441 Pembroke Street, PEOPLES', on 1447 Main Street, and SEMANS' on 278 Spruce Street. Bridgeport sure had a lot of movie theaters. Unfortunately, the only one left is a relative “newcomer”, the multi-shoebox-plex on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border.

Comments (6)

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on June 12, 2006 at 11:13 am

The Bridgeport he means is Bridgeport, Conn. Incidentally, the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport is supposed to be reopening any time now.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on June 14, 2006 at 10:07 am

I’m waiting, but I won’t hold my breath. I am not able to find anything concrete yet about the Bijou’s opening-I think a return to its heyday would be as likely as casting Eminem in a remake of “Have Gun Will Travel”!

barrygoodkin on June 18, 2006 at 2:39 pm

I have done rather extensive research of Bridgeport theaters from 1910. I began with 1910 because many of the theaters were storefronts that did not last showing movies very long.
This is information obtained from the Bridgeport City Directories in the Bridgeport Library. The city directories are not always accurate, not listing theaters in the year opened and sometimes listing them after they closed.
Asoria, 517 Newfield Avenue, 1910-1913;Bull’s Head 1737 Main Street, no listing; Crescent, 875 Main Street, 1911-1914; Elk, 1071 Main Street, no listing; Fairway, 2782 Fairfield Avenue, 1916-1918; Gem, 235 East Washington Avenue, 1910; Imperial, 515 Union Avenue 1910-1915, listed as the East End in 1915; Oriole, 441 Pembrooke Avenue, no listing; People’s 1447 Main Street, no listing; Seamans', 278 Spruce Street. There was a Star at 223 Spruce 1913-1916.
One of the first storefront theaters in Bridgeport was the Nickellete at 1219 State Street, Circa 1907.
The Bijou is reported as opened in 1910. It became the Rivoli on October 3, 1929 and later by a variety of names including Studio and Community.
Although there were no operating theaters in Bridgeport in 1998 when I relocated to another state there are still a number of old theaters that have been coverted to other uses that are still standing. The Poli Palace and Majestic are mothballed and still standing but I am not aware of any plans for restoration.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on June 20, 2006 at 12:02 pm

Thanks, I have been a lifelong resident of Bridgeport, save for a few years here and there, and I never realized until recently the number of places that used to be theaters that I used to pass all the time. It’s only a matter of time before the Poli (Palace) and Majestic bid us “adieu” (I’m afraid the city neglected them too long) and then all we’ll have are memories. Thanks for your research.

barrygoodkin on June 20, 2006 at 12:57 pm

fedoozle: I meant to mention and perhaps you are aware but the Bridgeport Library has a theater clippimg file that may be helpful to you. Mary Withowski was the librarian in the Bridgeport room.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on July 20, 2006 at 5:42 am

It’s been well over a month since this was posted, but recently there was a story in our local papers about a woman (who formerly used the theaters as such) who is attempting to use the POLI (PALACE) and MAJESTIC properties as a Worship Center. Should anything “develop” out of this, I’ll apprise you!

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