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Oh, and to add, I was thinking about it some more, The Ridgewood Theater used to be surrounded by other theaters, I can’t think of one nearby right now, and that is going into Queens or Brooklyn around it!
The Atlas terminal is quite a way away from the Ridgewood though. It’s possible that it would be damaged by it, but then again, The Ridgewood is the only theater for the Brooklyn area around there too. The Ridgewood’s location could save it further.
I believe the Village of Patchogue owns the theater, as they are the ones who spent all the money to refurbish it. I think they have a company though that runs the theater though. The Gateway Playhouse from Bellport used to run it when it first reopened, bu they no longer do.
I am almost certain though that the Village owns it though.
Today I had a chance to see the main level of the Ridgewood theater for the first time in 20 years!! (The last few movies I had seem there, also over 15 years ago, always seemed to be in one of the balcony theaters).
Anyway, I didn’t see a movie there, but got a great peak inside. I was in Ridgewood today, and had some time to kill, so decided to take a walk over to the Madison Theater to check out what can still be seen now that it’s the Liberty Dept store (see the Madison’s section for those comments). On my way back, I decided to take Madison Street around the back of the Ridgewood theater. Workers were repairing one of the emergency exit doors, and the doors were wide open to the left (if facing front) orchestra theaters.
I peaked in, and so many memories came rushing back. I immediately envisioned in my head sitting in the theater when it was still one theater, and looking at that exact same exit door from the indside.
A column still stands adjacent to the door (one of two columns that were on either side of the original large theater’s stage when it was one theater).
The theater looked to be in pretty decent shape inside. It appeared clean, and well cared for. Of course it was pretty dark inside, and I couldn’t stay too long as the workers were on their way back to finish repairing the doors. But it was sure nice to see the inside again.
I’m sorry, my sense of direction must’ve been mixed up when I typed the above information; the Brookhaven Multiplex is/was on the South Service Road, not the North Service Rd.
For those interested in further comments on the Madison Theater, I visited the building today. See the Madison Theater for my comment on it (I guess that’s more appropriate than continuing here under the Rivoli about it).
I was able to find a little bit more out about the Madison today (Warren and I were talking about it under the Rivoli theater the other day).
Anyway, I was in Ridgewood today, and was able to find some time for a walk on Myrtle Ave. I finally went into the Liberty Dept Store. I haven’t been in the building since it was Odd Lot, and that must have been the late 80’s. Well, the Liberty Dept Store is huge. It takes up the entire Madison’s lobby area, the entire area under the balcony and more than ½ of the main auditorium of the Madison, probably ¾ of it. It is exactly how I remember it from the Odd-Lot days. The old balcony stairway is still there, altough has modern stairs and railing (no sign of the Madison marble or railing). The stairway was wide open with a chain across it (man was I tempted to go up there!!!). You can clearly see the curve of the huge balcony right through the middle of the store. There is a drop ceiling under the balcony area, and in the old lobby area. You can no longer tell where the lobby ended, and the area under the balcony in the theater began. Past the balcony, the wall of the balcony (which is sheetrocked) goes up about 3 or 4 feet, and then another higher drop ceiling is the “fake ceiling” for the area of the store in the main auditorium.
They built an office or managers room in the left hand part of the theater, and that goes towards the old stage area. The door was open,and the room is sheetrocked. Then on the right hand side of the theater a huge storage room is located. That door was also open, and had a drop ceiling also, and sheetrocked walls. There is a door that goes outside from there too, presumably one of the former emergency exit doors.
The entire store is sheetrocked, and the store takes up the bulk of the former theater. If there is any part of the theater not in public view, it would be the huge stage area, and possibly a little more around the bend in the storage room that I could not see.
Aside from the totally modernized stairway (hard to imagine that it was once the Madison’s ornate marble stairway), and the curvatire of the balcony, there is NOTHING visable of the old theater. All the walls in the store itself, the office, and the storage room were completely sheetrocked with drop ceilings. The store does take up most of orchestra level of the theater, as well as the entire lobby. If anything at all still exists of the Madison, it can only be the top of the walls, the top of the procenium arch, and the ceiling, and possibly the balcony area (was it one or two balconies), that’s it. At least the mystery of whether Liberty Dept Store occupies the main auditorium or not is solved….now one of us has to get the management of the store to let us go up theat stairway!!!
I remember walking by on the sidestreet in the early 80’s, and the side doors to the “Tabernacle of Prayer” being open. I couldn’t believe the ornateness of the the theater. Unfortuntaely, I had never seen a movie there.
Yes, the Drake was used in Howard Stern’s movie “Private Parts”. In addition, the Drake is currently used as the catering hall portion of Joe Abbracamento’s Restaurant. The lobby seems to have been redone sort of fancy in “catering hall” style.
The one and only time I was there was when I saw “Annie” there in the early or mid 80’s. I only vaguely remember the interior, but don’t remember it being anything “that” special.
I have not been in the Madison in many years, but here’s what I remember. When it was Consumers, only the lobby area and part of the area under the balcony was used. Consumers was a “Service Merchandise” type of place, where you would write down what you want on a form, and they then bring it to you from the back. I assume the main part of the theater was used for the storage of the merchandise.
When it became Odd-Lot, you were able to access a much larger part of the building. If I remember correctly, if you looked up at the ceiling, you could see the curve of the balcony on the low ceiling part of the store. Then there was a higher drop ceiling too, presumably in the main auditorium area. It is doubtful that the Odd-Lot store took up the entire auditorium, although certainly did seem to occupy at least part of it. I remember very clearly the “low ceiling” and the slightly “higher ceiling”.
It is highly likely that much of the ceiling and at least the higher portions of the walls of the Madison Theater, as well as the balcony areas still exist. However, they are probably in shambles if they do still exist, what with the passage of time, neglect, conversion to either retail space or storage space, and also the fire that occured in the late 70’s.
I have never been in the Liberty Dept Store (which is now in the Madison), so don’t know if that store takes up more or less space than Odd-Lot did (the last time I was in there was for Odd-Lot).
Warren, do you know what the building is used for now?
Is the interior intact?
Thanks Peter for the information. I guess the exterior was much more ornate than it is now too.
Heh, now there are three theaters that I would “almost” be tempted to go to church services just to see the interior, the Loews Gates, the Valencia, and now the Rivoli. I guess I would stick out at a Spanish church though – “Iglesia Pentecostal”, seeing that I don’t speak Spanish – I can say, “No Hablo Esponial”, and a few other phrases, but about that’s it….
I meant “All the escalators are in the originalauditorium”.They zig-zap through the old auditorium.
Look up. All the escalators are in the original lobby. Some escalators even go through the procenium arch of the old theater, almost near the ceiling. The former balonies are all the various levels of the “lobby”.
The Empire will never be a theater again, but the auditorium is alive and well as the loppy of the plex. An escalator even goes through the old procenium arch.
If they moved it one street over, it would have been a real acomplishment!
200 feet is quite impresive in itself though.
This link may be easier than trying find the video in the yahoo site.
Well, I just spotted the Commodore theater in the new video by Avril Lavigne, “My Happy Ending”. If you go to the following URL, and look for Avril Lavigne, “My Happy Ending”, it will give you a link for the video. Right now it’s the #1 video on the page, but of course that will change. Once this post gets older, and you want to try it, click the url below, and search for either Avril Lavigne or “My Happy Ending” in the search engine, and it will bring you to the video.
My question is this, the video shows Avril running under an elevated structure which is the Broadway EL at the Commodore Theater (Marcy Ave Station). Then there is footage of her singing in what looks to be an old abandoned theater. Is that in fact the interior of the COmmodore, or if it isn’t, any idea what theater it is?
Here’s the link:
Actually, I am also against having Spanish subtitles at the Ridgewood, but Warren, I think you brought it up in the first place! I brought up “Polish” and the other Eastern European residents of Ridgewood just because the non-Hispanics still make up the majority of Ridgewood, even if there is a high population of Hispanics too. The Ridgewood is the only theater in the area, so find it would do more harm than good if they did such a thing.
Anyway, personally, I would not go to a theater that had subtitles (any language). I find it very distracting.
Ridgewood does have a high Hispanic population now, however, there is also a very large and noticable influx of Polish people also. That mixed with a high population of other Eastern Europeans too, especially Romania and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
The theater would do almost as good with Polish subtitles at this point.
I’m also a St Matthias graduate (a decade later though…)
Anyway, the Madison Theater closed in 1978 to movies. It then burned, but the building became Consumers, then Odd Lot, and now “Liberty Dept Store”. When it was Odd Lot, they had a fake ceiling over auditorium area, and you could actually make out the former line of the balcony. I have never been in Liberty Dept store, so don’t know what they have up there now (although I’m sure still a fake ceiling). I don’t know what if anything remains of the glory of the Madison theater’s plasterwork above the fake ceiling what with the fire, neglect, the ravages of time, etc.
See more about the Madison Theater by typing “Madison” in the theater search engine above.
I will ask him when I see him for sure. The Madison was always his favorite theater. I know it was more popular for stars to come to premieres at the Madison in the early 60’s and earlier, but it did happen in the late 60’s yet every so often too. My mother and father were dating in the late 60’s, and they went to one such premiere then. How sad that just a decade later the madison would be considered an “eyesore”. The 60’s and 70’s made NY loose so many beautiful buildings (not just theaters). It’s too bad some didn’t make it to the 80’s when people started rediscovering them. I would even have accepted (grudgingly) if the Madison had been “multiplexized” like the Ridgewood – it’s certainly better than it’s actual fate. Unfortunately the neighborhood around the block where the Madison is was already getting sort of grungy when I was a kid in the 70’s. If it had been a bit further east on Myrtle, around where the Ridgewood theater is, it may have lasted a bit longer as a theater – enough to keep it’s lights on (or off so to speak for a theater) a bit longer, at least to escape the “dismal 70’s”.
By the way, judging from Monica’s photos, although the curtain I decriped from inside is long gone, the colorful mosaic tiles are still at the entrance just like I remember them as a kid in the 70’s when it was just one theater!
I found the link Monica added to the link section of the site, and thought I should post a link to it here of the comment I made there:
I really have to stop and see a movie in there again one day. I no longer live in Ridgewood, but do visit often.
By the way, I wish I had a photo to share with you from when I was a kid in the 70’s.
Wow, Monica, you almost brought a tear to my eye with your description of the Ridgewood Theater! And seeing the photos of the exterior brought so many memories flooding back. What memories! And what you said is absolutely true!
I just wanted to comment on some of your comments:
“I’ll be the first to admit that this theatre is in desperate need for renovation / restoration, with the help of some exterminators…propably for the reasons listed above, but everyone who goes there, or has gone there, will tell you that it’s not necessarily where you go, its who you go with that makes your memories precious. If nothing else, the Ridgewood, is a nice, secluded place to talk, laugh, cry, and even snuggle up with your sweetie a bit. Its dim lighting, and the variety of music (mostly 90’s Latin, Pop, and R&B) it plays prior to the movie, puts you at ease. If you hear a song you recognize, memories will start flowing back, and you can share them with the people you are with. The 91 year old Ridgewood Theatre is a special place to come share, and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Absolutely!! And let me tell you Monica, if you have all this in your memory at 18, just wait till you are in your early 30’s like me, and see what a great place in your heart the Ridgewood will hold. I have not seen a movie there in 15 years, but when I was growing up in Ridgewood, I saw so many. I started going to the Ridgewood when I was a small child with my mother to see Disney movies when it was still one screen. The last movie I saw there as one theater before it was spit up downstairs was E.T. around 1982. (I think the balcony was already partitioned off though).
Yes, I have to admit that the Ridgewood is a “dump”, but it holds SO many memories for me, probably more than any other theater. I remember going there with my mother, I remember going to see a double feature at the Ridgewood with my father seeing “Alien” and the “The Fly”. Then came my teenage memories which are the best! I went with a high school girlfriend once, and saw a movie in one of the balcony theaters. It was a bright sunny day, and our eyes had not adjusted to the dim theater, and we were a few minutes late as the line for popcorn was long, and entered the theater as the opening credits were on. We could not see a thing! We stumbled all the way up the aisle (which of course is a steep incline of stairs as it was the balcony). We kept trying to sit on people because we couldn’t see! Then about 15 minutes later after finally settling down we glanced at the aisle we had so much trouble climbing, and we began to laugh hysterically, as our “stumbling” spectacle was all in clear view of the people already in the theater and used to the dark! We must have given all those people quite a show!
That’s just one of MANY great memories of that theater. It means a lot to me.
Once I was about 16 or 17 and in my early 20’s, my friends and I abandoned the Ridgewood for different areas once we could ride the subway and ride to Forest Hills, Manhattan, etc for other theaters, but the Ridgewood Theatre does hold a large spot in my heart. The last movie I saw there was about 15 years ago.
I just wanted to let you know about the rush of memories that came flooding back when i saw your photos of the exterior of the Ridgewood. In a quick slideshow in my head after seeing that, I saw all the images of the interior I remember at the Ridgewood….right down to my real early memories of the 1970’s when I was a kid, from the colorful mosaic square tiles on the wall by the ticketing area to the curtain used to open and close in front of the screen in the huge downstairs auditorium screen before the theater was broken up…yes a curtain at the Ridgewood – hard to believe isn’t it!?