RKO Bushwick Theatre

1396 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Showing 426 - 444 of 444 comments

getz on March 25, 2004 at 8:36 pm

Just found this web site, so let me add my two cents. First some corrections for the record. The address of the Bushwick Theater is 1396, not 1936, Broadway, Brooklyn. It is now the home of the ACORN High School for Social Justice, which is one of the new smaller high schools being created by the City. Its focus is on community service and themes of social justice interwoven into the curriculum. The school will be celebrating its opening at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, March 30, at 4:00 pm. As the owner of the building, I tried to preserve as much as I could, but the interior was shot. Only the exterior could be saved, and unfortunately, much that was unique and beautiful had been destroyed before I purchased the building in 2000. Nevertheless, the preservation of the exterior and the transformation of the building from a derelict hulk to a proud community facility is a gleaming symbol of the revitalization of the Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant commmunities that it is a part of.

Orlando on March 20, 2004 at 12:52 pm

To all who would like to view the Bushwick Theatre photos, I don’t have the capabilities to scan and submit photos through the internet or to this site for viewing. From time to time I give slide lectures where I show the Bushwick interior demolition slides. There are more than a dozen photos of the interior. I am in the process of putting all my theatre photos on to a yearly disc at this time. As I become more familiar “procedures of scanning photos”, I will be happy to share my photos with all of you then.

sdoerr on March 20, 2004 at 12:47 pm

hey Ligg send me some pics, email is above

Ligg on March 20, 2004 at 12:13 pm

Orlando, I also would like to see the pictures that you took. Could you send them to ? Thanks! And as I said, I send a picture of the new high school.

Ligg on March 20, 2004 at 12:11 pm

One other thing, I will go back there in the next week with a digital camera with updated pictures of the place.

Ligg on March 20, 2004 at 12:04 pm

Hi, All, some good new and bad news on this theater. In the last two years the ciy took over the theater and rebuilt the entire thing, but saved the outside and the facade which have gotten a face lift and looks great. The bad new is the city took it over and opened up as a public school as a the Bushwick High School for Social Justice. It opened for the first time this semester. We can thank the city for saving the building and the outside facade. It looks beautiful. But unfortunate, not having been inside, I am sure the inside was completely changed.

jays on February 28, 2004 at 6:48 am

Orlando, I would also love to see these photos if you also if you don’t mind can sen me those pics at

sdoerr on February 27, 2004 at 10:52 pm

Orlando could you snd the pictures to ? I would like to see them if you wouldn’t mind

William on February 27, 2004 at 2:55 pm

The RKO Bushwick Theatre is located at 1936 Broadway.

Orlando on February 27, 2004 at 2:13 pm

I was in the Bushwick Theatre about a month after the Sept. 11 attacks on the Trade Center. It was on a Sunday and I was admitted to see what was behind the walls of this once magnificent theatre. A B.F.Keith’s theatre before going RKO. After use as a film house in 1968/9 it was in use as a church but never converted to office building. The foreman said to be careful as interior demolition was in progress and not to step off the stage. Sun streamed in from where the exit doors were on the upper balcony levels, the middle balcony had been ½ way demolished and the box seats were also gone. the upper (2nd balcony) was intact minus seating. The proscenium arch was partially demolished but the centerpiece of the arch (a goddess) was still in place. Even though the theatre was in bad shape prior to interior demolition, enough was there to put it back together again. In a movie called “The Believers” with Martin Sheen, an exorcism scene was filmed inside the Bushwick Theatre showing Robert Loggia in the lobby and the the derelict interior of the orchestra and stage (where the exorcism took place). The exterior of the building is also seen. On that Sunday, 90 years after the Bushwick opened, I wept as I took some of the last pictures from the stage that was once trodden by the likes of Moe & Shemp Howard of “The Three Stooges” fame and others. I also left with a piece of plaster from the proscenium arch. The ceiling was still intact at this time. I did jump off the stage and roamed the entire orchestra level of the building. The distinct facade of the Bushwick, the most ornate of any Brooklyn Theatre is to be restored as part of the school facade. At least the exterior will survive.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 27, 2004 at 1:51 pm

The Bushwick was built by showman Percy Williams with William McElfatrick as architect, and first opened on September 11, 1911, as a vaudeville house. A year later, Williams sold it to Keith’s, which explains how it eventually became part of the RKO circuit. By today’s standards, the auditorium was very old-fashioned, with boxes overlooking the stage and a painted mural on the ceiling over the stage. In 1926 and again in 1929, it had some alterations done by Thomas W. Lamb. In 1938, more “streamlining” was done by Max Weinberger. The Bushwick closed around 1969 and then served as a church before being abandoned.

RobertR on February 27, 2004 at 1:31 pm

I always meant to post this ironic story on this page. I used to have a friend and his dad was a policeman in Bushwink during the turbulant late 60’s. Alot of times my friend would go with his father to work and spend the entire day seeing the movies at The RKO Bushwick, Loews Gates and Monroe which were all within a few blocks of each other. One day he told his father he wanted to see the films at the Bushwick and his father said no, there was too much going on in the area right now and it was not a good idea. After his father left for work, he took the train there himself and went to see a double bill of Gypsy and Music Man. When he came out of the theatre there were police, ambulances and fire trucks all over the place. During the 5 hours of fantasy he had no idea that racial tensions had flared up and fires were being set all over to burn down Bushwick. Ah those great old musicals !!!!!!!!!1

sdoerr on January 11, 2004 at 7:13 pm

HMm I have just found a site with some exterior pics:

sdoerr on January 11, 2004 at 7:09 pm

Can anyone provide the video he was talking about or any images of the exterior or interior?

ZakVreeland on January 11, 2004 at 2:46 pm

Last time I was there, it was still a closed down dump.

Williamsburg297 on December 7, 2003 at 3:14 pm

This looked to be a once-grand place. I wish there were pictures of the theater in it hey day. I think they made it into offices or something.

nabramson on July 22, 2002 at 2:26 pm

Last summer,end of August/beginning Sept./ me & 2 friends were able to get in.It was like we were in some Indiana Jones movie as it was like an ancient tomb.Unfortunately a lot of the interior was gutted out due to it being converted to a High School.I got video of the remains of the proscenium though the sides were destroyed.My first video was not so good but the next week I got better video though there was more destruction.But I did get some digital camera stills & video of the magnificent ceiling.How sad that this beautiful interior was being destroyed.This was one of the most beautiful theaters ever made. Ironically, in the weeks before,I was looking forward to the 90th anniversary of its grand opening in 1911-September,11th,2001 !

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on June 23, 2002 at 9:31 am

Several scenes from the 2001 film ‘Pootie Tang’ were shot in front of the Bushwick Theatre