Eugene DeRosa, architect of the Apollo Theatre

posted by derosa on January 12, 2007 at 4:34 am

Eugene DeRosa, architect of the Apollo Theatre, was my uncle, my father’s older brother. He was born in the Calabria region of Italy in 1894. He emigrated to the United States with his parents sometime between 1894 and 1898. They arrived through Ellis Island and settled in New York. The Depression ruined the family fortunes. I do not know what Eugene did after.

My father was born in 1898 in New York. He was named Felix, although he went by the name of Phil. My father also became an architect and worked with his brother Eugene. I would strongly suggest that he also worked on the Apollo, although not to the extent to gain any official credit. During the Depression, he sold insurance for Prudential, returning to practice architecture during the War and after until his death. He settled in Chappaqua, New York, where he met my mother, marrying at the age of 48.

There were three other brothers and a sister. One of the other brothers was my uncle Jerry DeRosa. He had some kind of management position with the Loews State Theatres. My uncle Eugene and my father designed a number of the theaters for that chain along with other theatres in New York during the 1920’s.

Eugene DeRosa died, I believe, in 1942. My uncle Jerry died in 1947. My father died in 1955 just before my seventh birthday.

I do have some contact with Eugene’s son, Robert DeRosa who would be my first cousin and the product of Eugene’s first marriage. There was a second son who died in the 1980’s, I believe. I hope to see Robert this August and learn more. After Eugene’s first wife died in the 1930’s, he remarried and gave birth to a third son, Richard, also my first cousin, whom I have never met.

If anyone reading this knows anything more about Eugene, Phil (Felix), or Jerry DeRosa, I would be extremely appreciative

Fred-Eric DeRosa
1116 Hamilton Street, apt 405
New Westminster
Canada/V3M-2M9
(604) 526-8761

Comments (6)

derosa
derosa on January 15, 2007 at 6:28 pm

Thank you for your response. Yes, the one name and two theatres were a bit confusing to me when I first looked into my uncle’s accomplishments. I guess back in the 20s, branding wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now. Alas, my uncle was the architect of the less famous Apollo, but it was a thrill to learn that he designed the theatre that went on to become the famed Studio 54. Yes, his list of theatres is impressive. My guess is that my father, too, worked on most of them. They were a team, a fact that I’ve always known.

Someday I hope to see it and others. I also hope to see his son, my cousin, this coming August when I go east for a visit. Apparently, he has lots of pictures and stories, so I expect to learn more about the three DeRosa brothers.

It was a pleasure to hear from you.

Fred DeRosa

StGeorge
StGeorge on March 29, 2007 at 11:26 am

Your uncle’s Apollo Theatre was combined with the Lyric Theatre to build the Hilton Theatre on 42nd Street in NYC. Many of the original architectural elements were preserved and re-used in the “new” theatre. Eugene also was the architect for the St. George Theatre in Staten Island, NY. This theatre is now reopened and presenting live shows. The theatre is presently being restored to its' former glory and photos of it can be viewed at www.stgeorgetheatre.com If your trip this summer includes NYC, I would be happy to give you a tour of the spectacular St. George Theatre. If your cousin, Robert, has any information to share about the St. George, I would love to hear from him. Any questions, feel free to write!

derosa
derosa on March 30, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Dear “St. George”: I just may take you up on your offer to see the St. George Theatre! I will be staying in Mount Kisco August 3-13, available anytime August 5-11. My (twin) sister will also be there at that time; I’m sure she would love to come along. We hope as well to go up to Westfield, Massachusetts, to visit our cousin Robert, Eugene’s son. And thank you, too, Warren, for your additions about the Shubert Jamaica. I’m thrilled to get this news. I don’t know if this kind of responses is acceptable on this site, but I can’t figure out another way to respond. My personal e-mail address is Many thanks to you both.

derosa
derosa on March 30, 2007 at 6:56 pm

I’ve just noticed that the e-mail address in my first entry is incorrect. My correct address is I write for a living, and those inverted letters are the bain of my existence!

StGeorge
StGeorge on April 14, 2007 at 7:59 am

Fred, I just came across an obituary in the New York Times from Oct. 3, 1945. It was for your uncle Jeremiah, (Jerry) who passed on Oct.1, 1945 (not 1947.) He is listed as the brother of Eugene, Felix, Vincent, John, and Sylvia Hoffman. The obituary reads as though all the other siblings were still living at the time of Jeremiah’s death.

derosa
derosa on April 22, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Thank you very much for the information on my Uncle Jerry. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that your information varied from mine. I’m wondering what he died of. By the way, if my father had had his way, I would have been named after Jerry!

My cousin Robert, Eugene’s son, told me that his father died in 1942. I have to believe that Robert is correct, and, despite the wording of the obituary, Eugene was most certainly dead by the time of Jerry’s death. The remaining living siblings were listed in order of birth, although I’m not sure if Jerry was born before or after Vincent.

Again, many thanks for your information. I hope that by the end of the summer and a visit with Robert, I’ll have a much clearer picture of my DeRosa heritage. Your help has been invaluable.

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