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As per interior restoration plans at the Cinemart, my correspondences with the owner have been put on hold. The owner is devoting most of his time to his recent acquisition, the Alpine Theatre in Brooklyn. He stepped in the last minute to prevent that theater from becoming a chain store. That theater is being restored & renovated to accomodate screens & performance spaces (art house). For the Cinemart, we hope to pick up from where we left off later this year or next.
I’m not too sure of the technical aspects entirely, but I know that religious institutions have taken advantage of programs put out by the NY State Historic Preservation Office (State/Nat'l Register). Grants from the Sacred Funds Program have been provided to various religious institutions who wish to restore their buildings.
When I called up the construction company (that walked off the job), they said the Rock Church wanted a more modern design for the facade & then agreed that it looked better before. The top portion might stay, but the terra cotta work, lintels, and tiles are being modernized with stucco. I assume it’s less costly rather than repairing what was there. However, I am baffled as to why they wouldn’t take advantage of tax credits & state matching grants for rehabilitating the facade properly.
Warren, your assessment is optimistic. Did you call up the Rock Church & find out? They might reveal more info to you, since they know you better. I recall that you visited a couple of times a few months back. Please let us know what happens. Thanks!
Here are some photos from the recent Forgotten NY tour of Elmhurst:
Scroll down ¼ & see current photos & a description documenting the desecration of the Elmwood Theatre’s facade. They promised to restore the facade in 2003. This development is an appalling, particularly coming from a religious institution. They might call themsleves Rock Church of “Faith Ministries,” but I have no faith in them! They turned their back on the community & now they deserve the same!!!! The previous contractor walked off the job since they never paid him for his work. He agrees that it looked better before, and felt bad they made him do it. The Rock Church is a pack of lies & filled with controversy! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
Thank you very much for posting my raffle ticket online! I appreciate the detail. I hope you’re having a great “Thanksgiving weekend!” If I come across anything additional, I’ll be sure to post.
If anyone has photos of the Ridgewood Theatre’s opening day, I recommend that they post them online & e-mail them to
Hi Everyone! I have been extremely busy, but haven’t forgotten about my Ridgewood Theatre fans & my mission. Photo documentation and research will be complete in the next couple of weeks or so. Stay tuned!
Welcome to Cinema Treasures, “Amazing Grace.” The Elmwood Theatre’s exterior is no way near to being restored. It’s being completely concealed with lackluster stucco. 2002, 2003, & early 2006 news stories gave residents & enthusiasts a FALSE SENSE OF HOPE. Why conceal beautiful terra cotta, lintels, & tilework that had superb craftsmanship? The proof is as follows:
The following 2 photos illustrate my observations to a tee:
This is not a restoration but a devastation. Why should the Rock Church lie to the community? :( Please verify this. The community wants answers.
Hi Luis! Thank you very much for sharing a detailed personal account. It definitely sounded like a magnificent event! Loew’s Kings Theatre is a treasure waiting to be unveiled!!!!!!
The Jamaica Library’s files might be limited on this theater. They recommended contacting the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, which I did. I will keep you informed.
P.S. When we conduct research or visit locations, I do not wish to act alone. We accomplish a whole lot more as a unified force.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. In regard to landmarking, I plan on conducting research at the LI Division of the Jamaica (Central) Library. They have lengthy archives. I will incorporate my findings into a report that will run ¾ – 1 full page. I will attach that to the Request For Evaluation (RFE) form to send to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Does anyone wish to join me at the library? Please let me know via e-mail at
I would also appreciate it if someone can take various shots of the Ridgewood Theatre’s exterior, as well as some interior shots of potential landmark-worthy spaces. When photographing the exterior, I recommend taking wide angles of the facade, close-ups of facade features, the entire streetscape, and side views to establish the theater’s relationship to the street according to passersby. These photos must accompany the RFE form to send to the Landmarks Commission.
Please e-mail me (Michael) and carbon copy AL at
I am not from Staten Island, so I am probably not the best source. However, I conducted a general search on the Department of Buildings website, and came across a possibility. The building is owned by Cheah Chung, and will most likely become Bay Street Asian Bistro. He can be reached at (718) 556 – 0480. I recommend clicking on the Job/ Filings link as well as the Permits in Processed/Issued links, when accessing:
Shame on that unsympathetic owner for not restoring & adaptively reusing the theater in a way that respects its significance!!!
Thank you very much, Ed!!! I will try contacting the center again, while referencing the lofty 2002/2003 facade ambitions in both papers. If you haven’t already done so, please don’t forget to contact the center to inquire, so I won’t be the only one. Thanks! I am debating over whether to send out a press release. I want to have substantial and accurate information first.
Great coverage in the NY Post!!! Thanks for posting the link! It’s about time politicians are determined to restore and adaptively reuse this “wonder theater.” A big thank you to all those who fought. I think the later marquee could be reused someplace else. I’d rather see the original curved marquee located or recreated, and once again adorning the theater’s unique facade. That would be a true restoration. What do you think?
I praise efforts to save this theater & Loew’s Paradise (now landmarked), but indeed… where were those ruthless politicians when we needed them for the RKO Keith’s?? :( I look forward to tracking the progress of the restoration of the Loew’s Kings!!! :)
A July 17, 2003 article in the Queens Chronicle:
It says the RC is excited about moving into the historical building. The classic Elmwood sign will stay, & a “surprise” will be added to the front. Hmm…
According to a March 28, 2002 Queens Chronicle article, Pastor Lydia Winthrow said “most of the two-story buildingâ€™s external structure will remain intact.” This also makes me wonder. Please access the following:
…And here’s a large photo that I found on flickr, showing early signs of the exterior work underway (without any detail removed):
I took photos while passing the Elmwood on a bus, & will share it with everyone shortly. I will try calling the Elmwood’s Rock Church once again, & see what they have to say concerning the historic facade elements presently chiseled off. I advise fellow members to do the same, so I’m not the only one calling in.
According to a 9/14/06 CraigsList posting, the Rock Church is seeking interns, and needs sound & video lighting for what they refer to as “a beautifully renovated historic theater.” While our wishes for the restored auditorium may have been granted, it baffles me as to how they can refer to it as “beautiful” & “historic,” and fail to restore the exterior as well (from what I’m observing). Please follow: View link
I think the classic Elmwood sign will stay, but then again, there’s no telling what may happen without landmark status. It might be a good idea for the sign to get designated. Thanks, “ShortyC!” I’ll consider it based on a few more calls.
I recall the tilework on the Sunnyside elevated removed in the late 1990’s, & cleaned and reinstalled. Does anyone think that the Elmwood would remove the terra cotta lintels and tilework above & in between the windows, clean/repair them, and reinstall it at the site? I rarely see restoration conducted in that manner. It would be a miracle (but since I see stucco being applied to the now unadorned facade, I doubt it).
Would the scenario be the same if “the religious volunteers” at the Rock Church broke their mother’s invaluable China set???
P.S. There is no telling what will be done to the Elmwood next. First all the terra cotta lintels are carted away, then covered with stucco & “dryvit”…..and now perhaps the rooftop balustrades and stone pottery, as well as the classic Elmwood rooftop sign will be discarded. We must press the issue!!!!
The author of two articles from January 2006 were Nicholas Hirshon of the Daily News & Adam Pincus of the Times Ledger. respectively, the links are as follows:
In the articles, references are made to religious volunteers caring for the property, quotes from Councilwoman Helen Sears, & the Community Board. Warren and I are quoted.
I will contact the media shortly. Hopefully, a follow-up story will be out, and our frustrations will be put on the table.
Thanks, Ed! It would mean a lot if everyone can call in & voice your concerns and frustrations with the Elmwood’s Rock Community Church. They can be reached at (718) 651-2950.
The DOB permit below indicates that they’re “repairing” the facade with stucco & “dryvit.” I learned that if the word sounds cheap, that’s what it is!
Their recent actions crushed many of our high hopes & contradicts restoration plans indicated in the Daily News article from last winter. Instead of working with the community, they’re working against them. SHAME ON THEM! Please call in & post your progress report. Thank you!
I regret to report that the historic facade details are increasingly being carted away on a daily basis, and replaced with stucco. The only part of the theater that seems to be in the process of being restored is the stage area of the auditorium. Passing by the Elmwood/Rock Community Church, is as if my heart has been pulled out. When you try contacting them, a volunteer answers. If you ask a question pertaining to the renovation work, he says it sounds suspicious, and then replies, “Well some people like modern design.” As community residents, I feel we all have a right to know what is going on, especially from a church/community center. What a shame replacing character and a true work of art with mock “finish it by Thursday” facade elements. Shame on the Rock Community Church!!!
You have a gem in your hands. As a New York resident who values preservation & adaptive reuse of historic theaters, I am very content with the plans! Lots of luck!!! Please keep us up to date.