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Here is some more info for you on the Parthenon…..
The block bounded by Gates, Wyckoff, Palmetto and St. Nicholas, was 400 feet long and 200 feet wide. The prominent building on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates Avenue and Palmetto Street, was the Parthenon Theater. The theater extended about 125 feet along Palmetto Street toward St. Nicholas Avenue. The building along Palmetto Street from the rear of the Parthenon to St. Nicholas Avenue was called the Ridgewood Garage.
The Parthenon theater opened in February, 1921. It was owned by Herman Weingarten.
I came across some info about the RKO Madison while I was researching the Majestic theater and thought that I would post it here.
The land that the RKO Madison was built on was the site of a brewery called â€œWelz & Zerwick Brewery". The brewery site was sold in 1925 for $860,000, and the RKO Madison Theater as well as a number of stores were built on the breweries former location.
Here is a link to another photo from the 1940’s. It is a photo showing Myrtle ave and Hillside ave. To the right is the RKO Keith and in the distance is Jahn’s ive cream parlor.
This theater closed in either 1959 or 1960. In the late fifties it seemed to specialize in low budget horror movies. I remember seeing the following movies there. “I Was a Teenage Frankenstein ” and “Invasion of the Saucer-Men” both in 1957. And who could forget the classic, “Attack of the 50 foot woman” in 1958. With “blockbuster” movies like those, is it any wonder this theater closed?
About a year after the theater closed it was converted into a bowling alley. I will try and get more info on this theater for you.
Peter…….Do you remember that there were two B-38 buses? They both turned right from Dekalb ave onto Seneca ave and headed east. One of them, the B-38 Ridgewood, continued on Seneca ave past the Majestic theater heading towards Myrtle ave. The other, the B-38 Grandview, turned left on Stanhope st (which is two blocks east of Dekalb) and went north a few blocks towards Grover Cleveland Park by Grandview ave. It turned around and headed back to Brooklyn from there. I always wondered why they had the same number. This may seem trivial to some people, but if you lived close to Myrtle ave and took the Grandview bus by mistake, you had a nice walk in store for yourself.
Ellen…..What was the name of your friend that lived on Greene and Seneca? Would you or your friend remember a movie theater on that corner called the Majestic theater?
Peter…..Was that Greene Pl or Fort Greene Pl? The high school was right across the street from Ft Greene Park. Speaking of Dekalb ave, when I rode the B-38 to school, Dekalb ave became a one way st heading south. Was it Bushwick ave where it changed from a one way to a two way street? Coming home from school, the bus went north on Lafayette until it reached Bushwick ave or whatever street it was then it proceeded to Dekalb and went north.
Thats pretty sick about that HIV stuff in a theater. Whatever condition the Majestic might have been in, the parents felt secure enough to let their kids go there alone. Times sure have changed!
Peter…..I’ve looked for books on the building of NY. Most of the books that I’ve seen, cover Manhattan. There were a few about Brooklyn with no mention of Ridgewood and I believe there was one about Queens with no mention of Ridgewood either.
Warren….I really don’t know what these people meant by “dumps”. Was it a poor sanitary condition? Could it be peeling paint and light fixtures that were broken or something on that order. With all the food that these kids claimed they threw on the floor, you would expect this theater to be infested with bugs or rodents. Not one of these people has mention a problem like that. If I was in a theater and a rat jumped on me, I would never forget it. I think the building was kept reasonably clean. I would tend to believe that it was more of an appearance problem.
I might have solved the mystery of the train tracks. I’ve done alot of research and many people have given me info pointing me in the right direction. One “old timer” has helped me tie all this info together. He remembers those train tracks and he tells me that there were other tracks like that. He told me that there were similar tracks further north just before Forrest ave. That would be somewhere near Grandview ave I think. The best piece of info he gave me was this. Most if not all of the bricks that Ridgewood was built from were made by Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company of Staten Island. Those bricks were brought by barge up the East River to a pier or dock somewhere in north Brooklyn. They were then loaded on trains and brought to Ridgewood. Those weren’t really sidings where trains were parked, they were more like job sites.
All the raw material was brought in by those trains. Bricks, mortar, sand, lumber etc. Also on those trains was the heavy machinery like steam shovels to dig the foundations for the buildings. There should be no doubt now that those tracks were there before the Majestic was and they did play a role in the size of that theater. Without those tracks/trains, there would be no Majestic theater.
If any of you are railroad buffs, maybe you could find out when those tracks were installed and that would give me a better idea of when the Majestic was built. This story could have been alot longer, but I didn’t want to bore anyone. I gave you the Readers Digest condensed version.
That is a great observation Bway. If the Majestic was as rundown as these people say it was, why not go to the Madison or Ridgewood theater and spend your hard earned money? My take on this is, these people knew this theater was doomed and they were trying to breathe some life back into it. It was a neighborhood thing. These people grew up with this theater like I did and didn’t want it to go. In a way its like losing an old friend. Like one of those people wrote, you could send your kid there alone and not worry about them. They felt safe there. That was something that they didn’t feel with the larger theaters. And I guess that it is kind of ironic that it became a funeral home just like the Grandview did.
Peter…..That was funny. Going back to Ridgewood is one thing, I think that I’ll pass on Roswell. Thanks for the links about PS81.
Back on topic…..A few more replies that I have recived on the Majestic.
“We used to call it the Dumps but I think it was the Majestic. I also saw Roy Rogers and other western movies there”.
“My parents used to call it the Dumps too. I always thought it was because when you were ‘down in the dumps’ you were sad or depressed and going to the movies cheered you up? Why did they call it the Dumps”?
“We called it the Dumps because it was very old and well.., dirty.
Back then, kids could go to the movies without a grownup. On
Saturday mornings it was filled with young kids all eating candy and
popcorn. We sat there eating sunflower seeds. You can guess the
mess we made, even though I know I tried not to get any sunflower
seeds or shells on the floor. Kids tend to spill things.
The film was shown on the old movie reels. The film would often
break in the middle of a movie and the kids would go crazy waiting
for it to be spliced together again”.
I have no years to go on with these replies but they would be in the early 50’s due to the age of the people writing these replies. It seems like the Majestic was in a state of disrepair in the early 50’s and its end was very near.
Bway…..I asked a few people about those tracks and this person confirms what you said. It was a siding. He believes the tracks ended somewhere around Linden St. So, those tracks would go from Linden St west past the Majestic. I know that those tracks were gone by the 50’s.
I thought the Majestic was a mystery, here’s another one. Sorry for going off topic but here goes. As a kid I attended PS81 which is located on Cypress Ave between Bleecker and Menahan St. (The school is still there under another name) When school was let out, the girls exited at Bleecker st and the boys at Menahan st. I lived closer to Bleecker so I had to walk an extra block. I would walk north on Menahan to Seneca ave. To my right I could see this big brownish colored boxcar about 20 feet from the street sitting on a track. There was a fence in front of it to keep wacky kids like me from going in there and climbing on that car. Now, the tracks that went across Menahan st were already gone. The question that all the kids used to ask was, “How are they going to get that train out of there”? (we called it a train). To this day, I don’t know the answer to that question. All I remember is, it disappeared during one summer vacation and was gone when school started again in Sept.
I assume that it was dismantled and trucked away. Since Star Trek wasn’t around at that time, I doubt that Scotty beamed it somewhere.
Peter…..The Majestic had similar tracks running behind it like the one’s that you remember near Wyckoff were. I never saw a train running on those tracks, but I did see a boxcar parked on one in the 50’s. This boxcar was sitting on those same tracks between Menahan st and Grove st. Its easy to tell where those tracks were and Bway might be able to confirm this on his next trip to Ridgewood. Start at Cypress ave and head north toward Seneca ave. Look at the houses starting near Cypress. As you approach Seneca ave, You will get to a point where those brick houses will end. That is where the tracks were. This doesn’t just apply to Greene ave. Do the same thing on Harmon st or Bleecker st and you will find the same exact thing. The old brick houses will all end at the same point on the block where the tracks were. There might be new houses built there now, I have no idea what goes on there today.
The trolley tracks ran along Seneca ave. That was before my time. The trolleys were replaced by those electrified buses that used the same power grid that the trolleys used. After that came the regular buses that ran on Seneca ave which you are familiar with as the B-38. There was a place on Dekalb and Seneca ave called the Car Barns where trolleys were stored and repaired and later buses were also. The trolley tracks on Seneca ave were paved over sometime in the 50’s.
As for the length or depth of the building looking south from Seneca ave, there was a limiting factor there also. Anyone that has lived in Ridgewood from the early 60’s or before that should remember seeing lots of train tracks running through many of the side streets. There were tracks that ran east and west directly behind the Majestic. If you go further south past Wyckoff ave, you would find tracks there also running east and west. To the best of my memory, these trains were not running in the 50’s. The tracks that crossed Greene ave had already been paved over by that time. The tracks down past Wyckoff were still visible in the 60’s. As far as I know, these were freight trains and had been running since the turn of the century. All construction had to be done around these tracks. Those tracks limited the depth of the theater.
Were these the reasons that the theater was small? We might never know for sure. All I can do is speculate on that. It doesn’t hurt to speculate because that won’t change the fact that the Majestic did exist at that location. Maybe it was intended to be that size. Maybe the property was priced so good that they couldn’t pass it up.
Bway….Did you happen to notice how many buildings were on Seneca ave where the Chapel is? From Greene ave to Harmon St there used to be only two on the entire block. The other building used to be a large factory that was a knitting mill years ago. I’m curious if it is still there.
We keep wondering why that theater was so small. Was it by choice, or did other factors make the decision for the builder. I might have an answer to that.
In the early fifties there were three buildings on that street. Between the Majestic and the factory building was a wooden house. The way I understand the story is as follows, That old house was one of the first houses built on Seneca ave. I’m told that it was there before the theater was. The owner, for whatever reason wouldn’t sell. The west wall of that theater was within inches of that house. That would limit the width of the theater. At some point in the fifties, that house burned down and the property was bought by the knitting mill. It was cleared and used as some sort of loading dock for trucks.
I’ll talk about how the length of the theater could have been limited next time.
Peter…..The check is in the mail. Oops, I mean the picture.
I received another email about this theater. This person is about 7 or 8 years older than me. This is part of the email: “We
would go there every Saturday morning and see Roy Rogers movies. I loved Roy back then. They would show at least seven cartoon’s along with the feature movie for the cost of fourteen cents."
I’m trying to find the year this person went to see these movies. I did some research. It seems that Roy Rogers last "big” movie was “Pals of the Golden West (Republic, 1951)”. His tv show started around 1952. Using the new math, I figured the latest this person could have been in that theater was 1952. I wish I could find out what year it was that tickets cost fourteen cents. Every little bit of info helps.
Warren….I’ve been thinking along the same line as you. I was thinking this theater started out with vaudeville acts and then switched to showing movies. That sure would explain the small seating capacity.
Peter…..I’m going to have someone else try and scan that picture on a different scanner. If it comes out better than the one that I have, maybe I’ll upload that one to this site.
I try not to write personal things on a public site like this, but I think you and I know alot of the same people. If your the Peter that I’m thinking of, you graduated high school with my sister. I won’t mention names but I believe your old high school is having an open house this Sept. If you would like to see this photo, I will email it to you. If you don’t want to post your email address, but would like the photo, I can get your address from a mutual friend. I hope your not too confused, I’m not paranoid, I’m just cautious what I write here.
Peter….Thats a good idea, I might give that a try. I’ve been getting alot of emails about this theater. Most are just memories of it but one of them actually remembers going to see movies there. I’m trying to get more specific answers from this woman and when I do, I’ll post them here.
I have a younger sister who has a very large collection of old photos. When I told her that I was researching the Majestic, she went through those photos. She found one of her taken on Seneca ave near the corner of Greene ave. Behind her is the movie theater. The picture is dated 1958. Its old and probably taken with a Kodak Brownie camera. If you use a magnifier, you can read the marquee. It says “MAJESTIC”.
She tried scanning this picture. When you do that you can no longer read the marquee. I have a copy of it on my computer now in .bmp format. There is no longer any doubt that this was the Majestic theater.
What I’m trying to find out now is, when did it open. When did it close. What kind of movies did they play there. If possible, I’d like to know who owned it. I might never find the answers to these questions but I will give it my best shot.
Hi Bway….I took your advice and moved that message here. That building is still a funeral home. From what I understand that it has a different name now. I believe its called the D'Angelo Funeral Home Inc.
In a message on the RKO Madison board, Warren said he looked up the Majestic in the 1931 Film Daily Year Book and it lists a seating capacity of 600. That sounds like a realistic figure to me since it was a small theater. That book also lists the address as 424 Seneca ave which is incorrect. Whoever did the research for that book must have made a mistake.
If your wondering how I can be so sure that there was a movie theater on the corner of Seneca ave and Greene ave, I’ll explain it to you. I grew up there. The theater was closed at the time, but it was still there. I walked past it just about everyday. The side of the building was on Greene ave. I played handball against that wall. I also played stickball on Greene ave. Home plate was even with the back of the theater. I hit the ball north towards Seneca ave. I also hit many balls onto the roof of that theater.
The marquee in the front had a drain pipe running down from it along the front of the building to drain off the rain water. As a kid, I climbed up that pipe to get on top of the marquee. Yes, I was very daring in my youth.
The building had a rear door which was sealed tight. It also had a side door on Greene ave that was locked until someone “opened” it. Although I never saw a movie playing in this theater, I was inside this theater many times. My friends and I explored this building looking for a way to gain access to the roof to retrieve the many balls we had hit up there. After all, a Spalding was around 25 cents back then and none of us were rich. One day we discovered that in the booth where the projection machine used to be was an opening in the ceiling that led to the roof. You can imagine how happy we were to discover that.
Anyway, I don’t have a vivid memory of the interior because it was dark inside when I was in there. The seats were still there, but not much else was intact. Over the years that it stood vacant someone pretty much cleaned this building out. Indeed there was a theater at that location. Is it the Majestic? I’ve heard from enough people that also believe it is the Majestic theater and unless someone has proof that this theater has a different name, I’ll continue to call it the Majestic.
The Majestic has a place where you can post messages so we can move this conversation there.
Peter…..I remember Ciro’s restaurant very well. One block west of there was my favorite hangout, the Ridgewood Grove Poolroom. Also in the middle of that block was a barbershop that I went to for haircuts. I’m not sure of the barbers name. It could have been Tony. Before I get into more trouble for posting non-theater related messages, I don’t think I ever saw the Imperial theater on Dekalb ave. Is that theater listed on this site? I’ll have to check it out.
Warren….The first funeral home that replaced this theater was called Seneca Chapels and that opened 42 years ago. I have no idea how many times the funeral home has changed hands or names. There was nothing very distinctive about that building to begin with. It was just a red brick building with a marquee in front. Other than changing the entry doors and applying a coat of paint on the bricks, the outside looks the same as it did before. It would be great if there was a place on the web to search real estate records for Queens, but I don’t think such a site exists.