Whitney Theatre

67-05 Fresh Pond Road,
Ridgewood, NY 11385

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tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 11, 2014 at 4:37 am

As a side note, with regard to the “Childs” type building, which later became a bank—my mother was a secretary for the Cemetery Workers Union Local 365, which was located above the bank, and I used to work part-time there during the summer filing papers in the office during the late afternoon. The building used to house a couple of other offices up on the upstairs level, too, and afforded a nice view of Fresh Pond Road and the buses swinging onto Fresh Pond Road from 67th Avenue.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 11, 2014 at 4:32 am

Great comments and information everyone! Such knowledge and details are what make this site as enjoyably informative as it is.

I remember going to the Oasis as a kid, which was situated just a half-mile or so up Fresh Pond Road going towards Metropolitan Avenue. You woukld think the Whitney would be better situated to serve moviegoers, as it was right at the heart of the public transportation system, even as far back as the teens, while the Oasis was less accessible in that regard, but the Oasis was a truly majestic theatre, even after its prime. I’d go to the movies there and follow up with a beautiful sit-down dinner at the Chinese restaurant across the street, a cavernous place called Fresh Pond Inn, if I recall correctly.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

While the reason for the Whitney’s early demise – competition from the Brooklyn theaters – that LM’s article noted and that I expanded upon in my previous comment is an attractive and certainly a reasonable one, there is an alternate possibility. As noted in a much earlier comment, the imminent construction of the Oasis Theatre in the immediate vicinity – which I believe occurred in 1927 -could have easily caused the Whitney’s owners to bow out at that time. Besides being a spanking new building, the Oasis would clearly have been better positioned to adapt to the sound era.

Going back to the first reason, my earlier comment neglected to describe the allure that the (Brooklyn) Broadway theater district would have had to the new residents of Ridgewood. This was, after all, where many of them lived and enjoyed life before making the move into Queens.

Bway
Bway on April 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm

The exterior of the current store building does very much have the distinctive “Childs Restaurant” facade, and is definitely 1930’s in design. It was Hamburg Savings Bank when I was a kid, and I think it became a Greenpoint Savings Bank at some point. The old article was very interesting. it was only about 20 years old when torn down. The mention of “Tramps and Undesirables” in the building was hysterical!! BTW, Mini Mart is still in the building at the corner, if you look at the street view. It was always Mini Mart in my time. Interestingly the attractive building next to the “Childs” building in the photo Themonagan posted recently was also torn down at some point, replaced with a one story building Mini Mart is in.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Hi tkmonaghan… Mother’s was actually in the corner building, sharing the ground floor with that newstand, not in the “theater-like” building that I think may have housed a Child’s. In your photo, you can see a portion of that building on the right, with a hat shop occupying one of the storefronts. Not sure if Child’s typically shared its footprint with other merchants, so your photo certainly does call into question whether my hunch is correct.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

LM, thanks so much for the reprint of a very interesting article. It confirmed a point I have made in other contexts about Ridgewood being very much a Brooklyn generated community that had, at least in those days, far more in common with its neighbor to the west than to much of its own borough. In this sense, the significance of the old Myrtle Ave. El in providing a link to the old community cannot be overstated. One can easily envision huge numbers of old Ridgewoodites taking the El to visit Fulton Street’s thriving entertainment and commercial district in Downtown Brooklyn. Even when I worked in Bushwick during the 1970’s and the El no longer extended beyond Broadway, people in Ridgewood would regret the lack of this very efficient link to downtown Brooklyn.

Interestingly enough, it was this Brooklyn mindset – as well as the clear logistical benefits – that encouraged the people of Ridgewood and Gelndale a little over one hundred years ago to have their communities placed within the Brooklyn postal zones. This, in turn, caused many of Ridgewood’s old movie houses to be featured in the Brooklyn section of the Movie Clocks for many years to come. The old Ridgewood Theatre was, in fact, still considered to be a “Brooklyn” theater in the newspapers up until its unfortunate demise.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 9, 2014 at 6:41 am

Ed,

I’m not sure when it opened for business exactly, but there was a restaurant called Mother’s that was there, a picture of which I just uploaded under the photos tab on the top of this page. The newsstand in the photo would later become a 24-hour grocery store called Mini Mart, which was a popular stop for sandwiches and beer during my youth growing up in the RGMV area. The photo I uploaded was taken sometime during the 1940s, IIRC, and is from the original negative that I picked up at an auction a while back.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 7, 2014 at 1:42 am

Just read through this thread, and the earlier questions about the current building on site having a theatrical air about it. Couldn’t find if anyone already mentioned this, but, knowing that prior to the bank, the occupant was a restaurant, I wonder if this may have been one of the many Childs Restaurant, locations. That early national chain was known for the architectural detail of its buildings. From images of other Childs locations that I’ve seen (including the remains of 2 Coney Island locations), this structure very much has the same look. And the timing would be right, if the Whitney lasted into the 1920’s, since that’s about when the chain started to peak in popularity.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 6, 2014 at 6:35 am

You’re very welcome, John.

Bway, I believe I may have a couple of glass plate negatives of the El being built around Forest Ave Station, too, and if I recall correctly, a large billboard in the background of one of them is advertising the new Mathews Model Flats for rent for $15 a month. I will check and post again if I can locate it.

Bway
Bway on April 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Speaking of the M line running at ground level, there is also a photo on the net somewhere of the Forest Ave Station when it ran on the ground, with the el being built up above the old station. Interesting the original Forest Ave station was actually on the OTHER side of Forest Ave (going towards Fresh Pond) than it is now as an elevated station.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thanks so much for the wonderful 1914 pictures of both the old Whitney and the street level rail line. I knew that what is now the M train did exist for a number of years as a grade level line, before the el was extended beyond Wyckoff Ave., but I have never seen an actual picture of it. So thanks again.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 1, 2014 at 12:37 am

I’ve posted under the Photos tab a couple of images of the Whitney Threatre in 1914 from original glass negatives I purchased at auction several years ago.

Bway
Bway on August 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

That is very interesting! It seems the Whitney was an abandoned theater very early on. This kind of explains why it was demolished so early on. A shame, I have never seen a street view of the old theater, the one above is about as best as I have seenm and it is also from the side. BTW, Welcome back Ken!!

Bway
Bway on November 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I don’t think so. That looks like the emergency escape stairway from the balcony or something.
You can also see where the stage area is. It’s much larger than I had thought.

Bway
Bway on November 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm

That was a pretty large building. I have never seen an actual photo of the front though, which would be nice to see.

Bway
Bway on April 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

The Whitney had to be torn down very early on, as the restaurant building that is currently used as a bank on the site, is quite old.

jackahearn
jackahearn on November 19, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Peter…Rather,… perhaps just a sign of my aging…sigh..:)

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 19, 2008 at 10:10 pm

More power to YOU, once upon a time !

jackahearn
jackahearn on November 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Hmmmm..and to think, that according to my family folklore..my Uncle played at the Whitney as a vaudevilian…(as above, July 28th ‘08)

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 19, 2008 at 7:52 pm

There is a picture of the Whitney Theatre in the 100th anniversary issue of the Ridgewood Times. It also appears near the right edge of a photograph in the “Ridgewood” section of the book, “Old Queens In Early Photographs”. The photo is primarily of the Fresh Pond Road station of the Myrtle Avenue “elevated” line, when it still ran on the ground.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

The Whitney Theatre was built in 1912 by the owner of the Whitney Hotel in Sea Gate, near Coney Island, according to the 100th anniversary issue of the Ridgewood Times. The ground site had previously been used for an open-air cinema…Additional research of my own revealed that in December, 1922, Herman Weingarten, who already ran the Parthenon and Belvedere in Ridgewood, took over the Whitney and spent $10,000 on “modernization,” including the installation of a Hope Jones Unit Organ. Vaudeville was discarded, and only movies were shown. Programs changed every two days and were first-run for the Glendale-Fresh Pond area.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on July 28, 2008 at 9:52 pm

You’re more than welcome, once upon a time, and thanks again !

jackahearn
jackahearn on July 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Peter…thank you for your interest. As for Cornelia St. continuing through to Fresh Pond Rd. Well, it did and it didn’t! Name-wise, Cornelia ended at Forest Ave. When I lived at 67-01 Forest (corner of 68th Ave) what could have been construed as the continuation of Cornelia was actually named 68th Ave. A look at an area map shows the name Cornelia stopping at Forest Ave. About 200 feet to the left, toward the ‘El’ ,the street continues, but with the name of 68th Ave., for one block and then jogs back to the right by the Lutheran Church. At that point, it is again in alignment with Cornelia St.. 68th Ave then continues to Fresh Pond Rd.

Oddly, not following the example of Cornelia changing to 68th Ave at Forest, the jog back to the right at Fresh Pond, continues with the 68th Ave name to the Farmers Oval. Confusingly, in some cases a jog created a new street name/number and some places it didn’t…which might explain why, up to when I was age five, my mother would answer a call from the candy store and go up to the 104 Pct. and pick up her lost son…again!

Oh, for the one person in the world perhaps wondering; the Candy Store on the corner of Cornelia and Forest was named ‘Barry’s’. In 1941 a sign appeared in the window proclaiming…“Gone For the Duration !”. As for the Drug store at Forest and 68th Ave., It was named ‘Millers’ up to1940 and afterwards was named ‘Pena’s’.

The short answer to your query….I never saw a street sign named Cornelia past Forest Ave…Uh…going toward the farmers Oval. ( Plenty in the other direction). Thanks for your indulgence for the longer answer.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on July 28, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Thanks so much, once upon a time, for posting this memory of yours.

I, too, have fond memories of Nagengast’s Hardware Store and Hobby Shop.

My dad remembers Cornelia Street once extending to Fresh Pond Road, past Forest Avenue, where it ends now. Do you remember this as well ?

jackahearn
jackahearn on July 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm

This Comment really, really strains my mind, but here goes; about 1939 or ’40 (see what I mean)…I was living on Forest Ave at 67th Ave. (at Fairview Ave) I remember, as a pre-five year old, being walked by my parents the several blocks to Fresh Pond Rd. It was in the evening and we climbed a flight of steps. My memory then places me in a big room (Auditorium?) and there was a party or gathering of some sort. I do remember being given (winning?) a child’s cardboard picture puzzle of an apple. Blanksville after that….except…

Years later, during a visit from an out-of-town uncle, he mentioned remembering Ridgewood from the time he ‘Played the Whitney’. Family lore does mention his having been in Vaudeville with a magic act. On a subsequent walk to Farmers Oval, while crossing Fresh Pond to 68th Ave., I glanced toward a turning trolley. My eyes traveled upwards and for the first time, I noticed the ornate theatre facade. My mind immediately connected that image to that night when I was taken to a party, perhaps above, the Whitney Theatre.

I offer the above only as a child’s memory with the possibility that it may be useful to another member trying to piece together the history of The Whitney and its part in Ridgewood’s theatrical past.

Although not Theatre related, I’ll risk Cinema Treasures Comment Policy and add a few words to other Comments, Re: Nagengast Hardware Store at 68th Ave.

Firstly; my 1940 Lionel Trains Service Directory lists that Hardware Store as a dealer, but under the name of Maurice A. Redlich. I’m not sure I knew him, but I certainly had many dealing with the gentleman who operated it in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s. I also recall, shortly after WW-II, the store was renovated and a brick side wall, with several recessed small display windows, was added along the 68th Ave. side. I’m happy to see that the Nagengast name, (albeit Tru Value) continues on.