Argo Theater

485 Hempstead Turnpike,
Elmont, NY 11003

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Showing 26 - 36 of 36 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 9, 2005 at 5:06 am

Here are some photos taken yesterday morning to accompany my post from December 7th. The address is 485 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, NY.

Note that there are two strips of parallel neon tubing runing around the perimeter of the old outer lobby just under the canopy soffit… were these original to the theater?
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You can see the anchors for the old balcony fire escape above the Discount Store sign to the right:
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Here you can make out where that window of Robbie’s overlooking the foyer staircase was bricked over:
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Finally, a few distance shots one from the east and one from the west showing the building’s narrow profile:
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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 7, 2005 at 11:21 am

Does anyone know the dates of operation for this theater? I’m curious as to exactly when this theater was first opened.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 7, 2005 at 10:53 am

I took a drive over to this theater on lunch today (no camera), parked in the rear lot and took a walk around the place. From the outside, this appears to have been a very tall and narrow theater. The entire first level is occupied by a “Discount Department Store” which you can enter from either the former low-profile lobby on Hempstead Turnpike or through a new set of doors that open up to the parking lot behind the building. All interior walls between the outer lobby, the foyer and the auditorium have been removed to create a single L-shaped space with a low hanging and cheap-looking drop-ceiling. In the old foyer area, there is an opening into what must have been an adjacent retail space on the left side (as you enter from Hempstead Tpke) that extends the floor space of the store. There is no sign of that grand staircase Robbie mentioned in his June 2004 post, although I suppose it might have been obscured by remodeling. From the rear of the building, you can make out where that window described by Robbie was bricked over. In the deepest part of the store is their “furniture” department, which occupies the space that must have been in front of the screen. I took a long look around and there is absolutely nothing remaining of the old theater on this level of the building.

As for the area above the store, I couldn’t see how one would gain access. There is a sign on the rear of the building for a restaurant/catering hall named “Planet Malibu” (although the “M” seems to have fallen from the wall) that I assume occupied a lot of this space at some point – but I don’t know if the Discount store expanded into the former restaurant or if Planet Malibu occupied an upper level. There is a two story facade that wraps around the theater on the corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Elmont Road and there is a storefront at the rear of that strip on Elmont (nearest to the parking lot behind the building) that is occupied by a French-language Baptist Church (serving a Haitian population, perhaps). The church advertises services held “upstairs” but I can’t make out if they have access to the upper level of the old theater or if they merely hold them in some space above the storefront.

So… I’m not sure how viable RobertR’s hopes are about re-opening the theater. The commercial occupant is still in business and a lot of reconstruction would seem to be required. The battered old “Century’s ARGO” sign (a sort of flat and square two sided vertical sign atop the roof of the outer lobby) is still hanging on against the odds. I’ll get back there with my camera soon and post some shots.

RobertR on April 4, 2005 at 7:54 pm

Someone should re-open this I think it stands a shot at making it again.

deleted user
[Deleted] on February 4, 2005 at 6:40 pm

This was very nice theatre I remember it was located on Hempstead Turnpike by Elmont Avenue.

Z on February 4, 2005 at 3:52 pm

A joke from Joe

Joe Martinez: A woman calls me and asks “what time is Crimes of the Heart
on?” I tell her, “lady, you don’t need to talk dirty to me.”

RobertR on October 12, 2004 at 1:01 pm

Those matrons always wore nurses uniforms that were 3 sizes too small, no wonder they looked so nasty.

Vodhin on July 6, 2004 at 7:52 pm

Argo? Argo **** yourself ;)

Posted in memory of Joseph A Martinez, one of the Argo’s managers from years ago. A true showman from the old school, always with a smile and quick retort.

We miss you, Joe!

KenF on June 23, 2004 at 7:29 pm

Your maxi-matron sounds a lot like old Mrs Frye, who terrorized the brats at the Queens, a few miles away in Queens Village. I have a vague memory that she floated among nearby nabes like the Bellerose — so she may have been your Argo battleaxe. Or maybe Century somehow attracted all the old Wagnerian horrors looking for work.

bzemanbz on June 3, 2004 at 1:22 pm

Pure, unadulterated 1950’s is the only way I could describe the Argo. I remember it from the many trips there as a kid in the 50’s. Think fiberglass lampshades and black panther TV lights.
Many times we took the Beeline Alden Terrace bus to Hempstead Tpke / Elmont Road (stop 12) to go to the movies at the Argo. The squared off outside box office on the left of the entrance was faced with a very linear fieldstone. The entrance lobby was low and sleek with coming attraction posters on either side. You went through aluminum doors into a large, high ceilinged lobby. The candy counter was on the left, set into the wall. There were NO straight lines anywhere. Everything was done in “sensuous curves”. Directly across the greenish, large leaf motif carpet (again, think fifties!) was the “grand staircase” to the balcony. It swooped up in a graceful curve, carried aloft by its very tailored, aluminum railing. About halfway up was a gigantic (at least to a ten year old) curtain made of the same fifties jungle leaf pattern placed in front of an equally sized window. We used to peek behind it to look out, but I never remember seeing it drawn back. What WAS the architect thinking? The auditorium was very plain- although quite long and high ceilinged like the lobby and in sort of a non-descript grey- if there’s such a shade. The side walls were equally plain. I remember only what I could describe as a large, flattish bas-relief sculptures resembling the profile of an oil tanker ship that took up the entirety of each side of the auditorium. They concealed some dim cove type lights. These along with high hat lighting in the ceiling were the only sources of light. The ubiquitous, neon encircled advertising clock floated in position at the lower left side of the “stage”. Also, coming to mind is the hippo sized matron in charge of the children’s' section. She wielded her flashlight like a weapon, and if you got out of line, she could shoot you a look that would wither the Alien, and send him running home to mother!

RobertR on January 9, 2004 at 8:38 am

This was once one of Long Islands premiere theatres. The independant owner after Century ran it as a discount house, and had announced plans to six-plex it. He died before it happened and the family rented it out as a store. Right now if you drive by the store removed its sign and the old marquee is totally visible.