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The point you made is very true concerning the possibility of the Ridgewood Theatre becoming a “CVS with a nice landmarked entrance.” Landmarking an exterior is great, but it’s the interior of the theater that puts the icing on the cake & makes it complete. Wherever applicable, the interior should be restored. The staff of the Landmarks Preservation Commission should smarten up, & the interior should be landmarked too. In general, I’m sick & tired of hearing their blunt, vague statements, i.e. “It doesn’t meet the commission’s criteria,” with no further explanation. Getting through to the LPC is like pulling teeth! There is MUCH hope for the interior!!!
The following links contain lots of helpful advice for owners/non-profits who hope to restore their theaters (e.g. grants, tax credit, technical assistance, etc).
The NY State Historic Preservation Office: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/shpo/
Preservation League of NY State: www.preservenys.org/funding.htm
NY Landmarks Conservancy: www.nylandmarks.org/
Nat'l Reg of Historic Places: www.cr.nps.gov/nr/
We all know as a fact that the exterior of the Ridgewood Theatre is primarily intact. The interior might have many original architectural elements concealed beneath sheetrock or paneling.
Take the Elmwood Theatre for example. The interior was altered beyond recognition, & now the occupant (Rock Community Church) hired some of the top architects & contractors to restore this 1928 gem: /theaters/1942/ The link contains contact info for the Rock Community Church, if anyone wishes to speak with them for tips. They’re restoring the multiplexed auditorium to one auditorium & revealing the ‘28 medieval castle-like decor. That definitely sheds some light!!!
Can someone please post various shots of the interior of the Ridgewood Theatre? Thanks! – Michael
My pleasure!!! Thanks! – Michael
The following website will assist you in forming a non-profit. It’s very imformative, & contains the necessary forms:
Thank you, Al!
I’m very happy to come across someone who’s dedicated to a such a commendable project. While I don’t have the resources to allocate funds, I would assist you with a fundraiser if the time calls for it.
The Theater Historical Society of America might have some vintage photos which can assist you in its restoration. I have never been to the Ridgewood Theater, but have strong feelings for its preservation. I believe that landmarks contribute to the continuity & vitality of communities. If you have any questions, please contact me at
A letter to the editor as noted in the 4/13 Queens Chronicle:
Regarding Rick Archerâ€™s article in the April 6 Queens Chronicle, I read that the proposed Education Center for Russian Jewry has promised to preserve the marquee and projection tower of the Trylon Theater. The center does not mention the mosaic floor. In any event, a promise is not enough. The people of Queens County need the city of New York to back us up on this one.
Countless thousands of moviegoers including myself have invested a lot in this town. I believe the criteria has been met. With all due respect to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, I understand sites must be carefully considered, but ones in Queens are few and far between. Save some of the familiarity of our structures for all of Queensâ€™ residents.
P.S. For the Request For Evaluation forms, we should have as much historical information as possible with accompanying photos. They should include a vintage photo, and varying shots of the facade at present, including close-ups of the intricate details.
Thank you for replying to my post. An individual or a community group can apply for landmark status without consulting with the landlord. I hope that prospective buyer will take over the theater, maintain it as a theater and introduce some community activities (which will be unique), and over time, restore the theater where applicable. I would gladly be a part of the group and will lend my support. Do you feel that an accompanying offline/online petition to landmark the theater would be necessary? I recommend both. For an online petition, Petition Online is great. Based upon the success rate of requests and actual designations in Queens compared to that of Manhattan, Queens seems to get the backdoor. It’s not that Queens is less worthy, but such occurrences stem from politics. Many preservationists feel the LPC is biased when Queens comes into the picture. A petition is a great idea, but perhaps someone can form an official group i.e. “Committee To Save The Ridgewood Theatre”? Please e-mail me at
I believe the architect was NY’s-own, Joseph Unger, the same who built the Trylon Theater; a true landmark. It’s a shame that the side of the often gets vandalized. Does anyone know if the facade is concealed with a later facade? It looks rather bland.
Forest Hills Ledger (Times Ledger) April 6, 2006: www.timesledger.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16440505&BRD=2676&PAG=461&dept_id=551069&rfi=6
Excerpt about Ridgewood Theatre: Residents in western Queens communities and preservationists are hoping to save two historic borough movie palaces, one of which is being converted into an educational center (Trylon Theater), while the other will soon face competition from a newly constructed multiplex.
Borough residents and theater preservationists are also unsure of the fate of the 90-year-old Ridgewood Theater, located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood, which will soon face competition from an eight-screen Regal Cinemas at the Shops at Atlas Park, a large office/retail complex set to open in late April on Cooper Avenue between 80th and 83rd streets in Glendale. Although some residents said they hope to get the historic theater landmarked, others complained on Cinema Treasures, an online movie theater forum, that the Ridgewood had sticky floors, creaky seats and rodents.
Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, which serves Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village, said he would like to see the area retain a historic neighborhood movie theater. He said the Ridgewood might just need a little sprucing up.
But Karen Colizzi Noonan, president of the Chicago-based Theatre Historical Society of America, said saving the theater is a responsibility shared by the theater’s owners and the community. “If the community values that piece of property and doesn’t want to lose it, they need to make a commitment to support it,” she said.
While the fate of the Ridgewood Theater, which has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and the invention of television, video and DVDs, is yet to be decided, the Trylon joins the ranks of several historic Queens sites that have been denied landmark status or torn down to make way for new developments. These include the 159-year-old St. Savior’s Church in Maspeth, the Middle Village German eatery Niederstein’s and Glendale catering hall Durow’s.
“I think the borough is losing a lot of its history because Landmarks is not stepping in,” Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R- Middle Village) said. “The commission is too slow and out of touch with the outer boroughs. If you want something landmarked in Manhattan, it takes a second to get done.”
A BIG lie – Notice how a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said “the inside of the Trylon had been modified too much to qualify for landmark status.” It is common knowledge, only exteriors of buildings qualify for individual landmark status. Interiors are an entirely different category. This is confirmed in the LPC’s book, “A Guide to NYC Landmarks.” The Committee To Save The Trylon requests an answer from the LPC, and will get a hold of their minutes!
Trylon denied landmark status
By Nathan Duke
Residents in western Queens communities and preservationists are hoping to save two historic borough movie palaces, one of which is being converted into an educational center, while the other will soon face competition from a newly constructed multiplex.
Efforts to save the 66-year-old Trylon Theater, located at 98-81 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, were dealt a fatal blow recently after the city Landmarks Preservation Committee decided not to grant landmark status to the theater. Signers of the Save the Trylon Theater petition said the site is one of the last standing structures that has cultural and historical ties to the 1939 World’s Fair.
Michael Perlman, founder of Save the Trylon Theater, criticized the preservation committee’s decision not to designate the Trylon as a landmark. The Art Deco theater is currently being transformed into the Educational Center for Russian Jewry.
“The Landmarks Preservation Committee has chosen to disregard a highly significant landmark, confirming a consensus among preservationists that Queens continues to get the back door,” Perlman said.
City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) recently received a letter from Landmarks Chairman Robert Tierney, who explained that the theater did not meet the commission’s criteria for landmark status. A spokeswoman for the commission said the inside of the Trylon had been altered too much from its original state to qualify it.
In a recent Daily News article, Katz said she never thought the theater was suitable for landmarking and that she was “happy that [Tierney] made a decision.” But Juniper Park Civic Association President Robert Holden and Perlman both said they were upset with Katz’s comments in the article. “The worst thing that an elected official can do is mislead their constituents,” Holden said.
But Karen Colizzi Noonan, president of the Chicago-based Theatre Historical Society of America, said saving the theater is a responsibility shared by the theater’s owners and the community.
“If the community values that piece of property and doesn’t want to lose it, they need to make a commitment to support it,” she said.
According to the Queens Chronicle, April 6, 2006: www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1863&dept_id=152656&newsid=16448517&PAG=461&rfi=9
Landmarks Commission Rejects Trylon Theater
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has turned down the application to landmark the Trylon Theater in Forest Hills, but preservation advocates vowed to continue their efforts.
In a letter to Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Landmarks Commission Chairman Robert Tierney said the 67 year old Queens Boulevard theater â€œdoes not meet the criteria for designation,â€ and the request would not be sent to the full commission for consideration.
The decision was based on the findings of a committee of senior staff members, which found the theater had been altered too extensively to be eligible for landmarks status, said Diane Jackier, the commissionâ€™s director of communication and government affairs.
Michael Perlman, chairman of the Committee to Save the Trylon Theater, disagreed with the decision. â€œIt pretty much goes against the premise of the landmarks preservation law, since the building has artistic, historic and cultural value,â€ he said. The building still has its facade, its illuminated projection tower, and its mosaic tile floor, which are distinctive enough to merit landmark status, he said. â€œWe are dismayed that the LPC has chosen to disregard a highly significant landmark, confirming a consensus among preservationists that Queens continues to get the backdoor,â€ Perlman said in a statement.
He also criticized Katz, whom he feels obstructed the bid by opposing landmarking for the movie house. Katz did not return a call for comment, but said in a press release: â€œWe continue to work with Chairman Robert Tierney and the Landmarks Commission to create historic districts and designate landmarks that do meet the criteria for designation and preserve those areas for future generations to enjoy.â€
Perlman said the committee would remain in business and would continue to circulate the petition it startedâ€"which now has 1,600 signaturesâ€"in the hopes of changing the commissionâ€™s mind. â€œWe have to prove to the landmarks commission just how important this issue is,â€ he said.
Built during the 1939 Worldâ€™s Fair, the Trylon Theater epitomized art deco and art moderne styles with its streamlined design. At the end of 1999, the theaterâ€™s lease expired and it closed down for good, only days after its 60th anniversary. The building was then sold to the Education Center for Russian Jewry, which planned to convert it into a cultural youth center for Queensâ€™ rapidly growing Bukharian population. The center has reportedly promised to preserve the theaterâ€™s marquee and projection tower. Center officials did not return a call seeking comment.
For a recent Trylon Theater news story, entitled “Trylon Theater Denied Landmark Status,” please follow:
A Daily News article can be accessed through that link as well.
I give my heart to the owners & all parties responsible for giving a treasure of a theater, and a true icon of the Bronx, a restoration that it deserves, and for reopening it. Any attempt to demolish it would have been Bronx’s Penn Station. LONG LIVE LOEW’S PARADISE THEATRE!!!!!!! Lots of luck! – Michael
Thursday, March 30, 2006 (as appeared in Queens Ledger, Queens Chronicle, etc)
Letter: Katz-call for Local Councilwoman and LPC
Councilwoman Melinda Katzâ€™s call for a City Council oversight hearing regarding the workings of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) appears, on the surface, to be admirable and long overdue, considering the sluggish and snobbish attitude that LPC has displayed in regard to our borough of Queens. The LPC has proven by its own record, with respect to the numerical pittance of designations in our borough, that they have discriminated against Queens. While Manhattan has the lionâ€™s share of landmarks, Queens has been tossed table scraps.
Itâ€™s not that Queens is less deserving; weâ€™re only less deserving in terms of the time and resources that LPC wishes to allocate for its country cousins. One cannot blame them entirely, though. They have been gun-shy in the past considering how many of their designations were overturned by the old Donald Manes and Claire Shulman administrations. Indeed, the â€œShul-Manesâ€ administration proved its support for unbridled development and anti-preservation for well over a quarter of a century.
Currently, however, the boroughâ€™s bulldozer is still rolling, driven this time by Melinda Katz, chair of the City Council Land Use Committee. Her list of campaign contributors reads like a â€œWhoâ€™s Whoâ€ of developers, real estate managers, prominent politically connected lawyers, and sleazy political action committees. Katzâ€™s LPC oversight hearing is just a crude smokescreen to deflect attention to her role as an accomplice in destroying the character and quality of life in our Queens neighborhoods by supporting over-development, while being well-funded by her friends, the builders.
This is precisely why, for example, the landmark-worthy Trylon Theater in Forest Hills is not being landmarked. Sheâ€™s â€œwaitingâ€ for Robert Tierney, chairman of LPC, to designate, but Tierney wonâ€™t until he gets the nod that Katz will support the designation. In other words, we have a battle of the chairs between Tierney of Landmarks and Katz of Land Use. Both need to get their behinds off their chairs and stop playing political ping-pong, or else Queens will continue to be the loser.
Committee to Save Flushing Keithâ€™s Theatre, Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stage I: Landmark-worthy Trylon Theater Gets Denied, & Swarmed with CM Katz & LPC Contradictions
FOREST HILLS, N.Y. (March 31, 2006) â€" According to the March 31, 2006 article in the N.Y. Daily News entitled, â€œTheater Landmark Bid Gets Thumbs Down,â€ Chairman Tierney faxed a letter to Councilwoman Melinda Katz stating that the Trylon Theater at 98-81 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills, N.Y. does not meet its criteria for landmarking, and â€œwill not be recommended to the full commission for further consideration as an individual landmark.â€ Katz responded, â€œI never thought that this was a building suitable for landmarking. I guess Iâ€™m just happy that Tierney made a decision, and now we move on.â€
The Committee To Save The Trylon Theater (local residents, preservation groups, historical societies, community & civic groups) has been trying to encourage the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the Art Deco/Moderne 1939 World’s Fair-inspired Trylon Theater, with its rare attributes (Streamlined Art Moderne facade, elliptical marquee & glass block projection tower which illuminates Queens Blvd, & the mosaic tile/terrazzo floor which bears a 3D mirror image of the Trylon monument, complemented by a chevron pattern).
Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Tierney had intentions of granting a hearing for the Trylon Theater as early as 2003. However, Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s inactivity and initial opposition to its possible landmarking, prolonged Mr. Tierneyâ€™s decision, since the LPC usually does not act without sufficient political support. Upon a few phone conversations between Michael Perlman & the LPC, and according to the Forest Hills Ledger (Jan 26, 2006), when emphasizing the Trylonâ€™s rare architectural, cultural, & historical attributes, Chairman Tierney states: â€œI agree that the Trylon qualifies under all conditions as a NYC landmark. I request a note from Councilwoman Katzâ€™s office, indicating her consent of a hearing and that she supports my landmarking notions, since Katz opposed from the very beginning.â€
CM Katzâ€™s opposition is further documented as follows: The NY Times (9/18/05): CM Katz said, â€œIâ€™m just not sure at this time if landmarking just the front of the building would be the best for the community. Being able to renovate the theater without restrictions, would save both time and money.â€ Queens Chronicle (8/18/05): John Jurayj, Historic Districts Council board member/Co-chair of Modern Architecture Working Group, said â€œThe HDC & Modern Architecture has been asking for it to be landmarked for 2 years,â€ and accused Katz of not supporting landmarking. Mitchell Grubler, Exec. Dir. Of the Queens Historical Society, wrote a letter to the editor, stating he was â€œoutraged that Katz let it be known to the LPC that she opposed landmark protection, and they have thus taken a hands-off stand.â€ Forest Hills Ledger (9/8/05): Katz questioned whether the theater in its current condition should be landmarked. â€œThe outside would need so much work to make it look even half as nice as it did originally.â€ Forest Hills Ledger (10/27/05): An LPC official commented â€œRarely do buildings get landmarked without first acquiring the approval of the City Council representative.â€ (9/8/05): A LPC spokeswoman said â€œA building rarely gets landmarked without the local councilmemberâ€™s blessing.â€
However, according to the Feb 2, 2006 Queens Gazette article entitled, “Trylon Landmarking: Unnecessary Confusion?” Councilwoman Katz claims she values its historical significance and favors landmark status: “Councilwoman Katz made it abundantly clear that she is in favor of landmarking the Trylon, which is agreed by all parties concerned, would include the building facade, its crystal tower, the theater marquee, and retain the Trylon name.â€ CM Katz then states â€œThe Committee To Save The Trylonâ€™s members have great respect for the community. We want to work with them, to have a discussion with them, rather than have them in the community with a lot of tension between us. I believe they want to do the right thing. I donâ€™t want to put the community at risk. Thereâ€™s no need for that. In fact, I donâ€™t know what weâ€™ve both been fighting about. We both want the same thing.â€
In conclusion, Michael Perlman states: â€œCM Katz never responded to a series of letters and phone calls from The Committee To Save The Trylon (her constituency) requesting a meeting since July 2005. A councilwoman charged with representing the people, once again leaves her constituency baffled. We are also dismayed that the LPC has chosen to disregard a highly significant landmark, confirming a consensus among preservationists that Queens continues to get the backdoor. Chairman Tierney also broke his promise to meet with us, and didnâ€™t value a petition of 1,600 signers in addition to a letter campaign. We request a copy of the LPCâ€™s minutes, to see how they determined it ineligible. According to architectural critics (i.e. Art Deco Society), the Trylon fulfills every definition of a landmark, and the failure to grant it a hearing at the very least, defies the architectural and historical provisions of the landmarks law established in 1965. CM Katz & the LPC are now in the spotlight as a result of their landmark-related contradictions, and their distrust as Queens preservationists heightens. CM Katz of Land Use & Chairman Tierney of the LPC has to realize that the people who inhabit their communities understand them best, and therefore, we assure that this is only the beginning of a worthwhile battle for the Trylon & other Queens landmarks!â€
Jeffg718 – Thank you very much for your kind words in regard to my committee. When it comes to landmarks, the people who inhabit their communities know them best, & should therefore have the greatest say. Preservation provides continuity for any community, and illustrates a sense of pride. The politicians who do not see this as an adequate issue, need to learn to value the opinions of & listen to their constituency. If you wrote a letter to the editor of the major Queens publications about this, that would help very much.
BGood – We need to launch a major Queens preservation campaign very soon, or there will be nothing left to landmark. Hopefully, there will be some publicity about this in the near future. ;) Queens has to stop getting the backdoor. We should be treated no differently than Manhattan. We deserve our fair share! If you have a chance, please write a letter to the editor of major Queens publications, & state how you feel. Every preservationist borough-wide needs to unite & show the LPC & our councilmembers that we won’t settle for anything less!!!
Marty B – A “valid” permit for the Trylon marquee states that it will be repaired with similar materials. Whatever that means. It was stripped since the owner let the marquee fall into disrepair for a substantial period of time with metal dangling. The owner was ordered by the Environmental Control Board. It does pay to be proactive, but the plans for the center were being kept very secretive. When I noticed early stages of construction or rather “destruction” taking place in July 2005, that was when I officially got into preservation. Now we all know better for next time.
The Juniper Park Civic Association public meeting/Trylon advocacy event last Thursday went very well. We had a decent turnout of at least 400 people. In addition to Bob Holden (JPCA Pres.) & Mayor Bloomberg (who was presented “Man of the Year” award), I also made a presentation on the Trylon and distributed hundreds of fliers as part of my Trylon letter campaign to the LPC. It was impressive that the Mayor heard my speech. I handed him a letter on behalf of the committee. Many reporters showed up. We also touched briefly on St. Savior’s 1847 Church. Demolition of St. Savior’s Church is a damn shame! We gathered up some additional support by launching another petition drive. Let’s hope the LPC gets our message & takes action ASAP!!!
*This is off the topic of theaters, so please follow this link for more info on St. Savior’s Church & the controversy. WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP CONCERNING A MAJOR INJUSTICE. CALL 311 ASAP, PLEASE.
I will continue to keep everyone informed. Thank you for your help & for sharing your opinions on these important issues.
TommyR – Thank you very much for your encouragement. The FH Gardens enclave is indeed unique. I haven’t seen it documented in any films. It would make a perfect backdrop! Proudly, the FH Gardens is a place where history has stood still. It exemplifies how we can all work together to achieve a well-maintained community.
Jim – I have contacted THSA and I hope that they can unearth some photo treasures of the Cinemart. Thank you very much for your advice on that, as well as the restoration architects. I’m very impressed with their work! I will definitely look into it, & share my findings with the owner.
I will keep everyone up to date. Thanks again! – Michael
March 9, 2006 Open Letter to Councilwoman Katz, as appeared in Queens Ledger, and other Queens-based publications
Letter: They’re Supposed to Be Letters to the Editor, But…
Katz and mouse game with Trylon?
Dear Councilwoman Melinda Katz:
We applaud your public statements that you support municipal landmark designation of the superb Art Deco/Art Moderne exterior of the Trylon Theater. It is, however, to our Committeeâ€™s disappointment that you have not as of yet, to the best of our knowledge, taken any concrete steps to request the immediate calendaring of the Trylon by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. As you probably already know, this is essential for beginning the landmark designation process, and should be done as soon as possible to ensure temporary legal protection for the Trylon until a final decision has been reached on its designation as a New York City landmark.
Once the Trylon has been calendared for a public hearing, there is legal recourse should the property owner damage or demolish, either by neglect or intent, any of the key elements, such as the mosaic tile features, glass block tower, vertical sign or elliptical marquee.
Creative reuse of older architectural treasures balanced with sensitive development is the key to the preservation of the continuing vitality of any community. The Trylon Theater is truly one of the critical elements of Forest Hills that must be retained. We also request that you meet with the various historic preservation groups within your constituency and the borough so that workable solutions can be discussed that benefit all.
It would be a pity if indifference or anger with regard to this issue should contribute to the tragedy of losing the Trylon Theater.
Thank you. We will be following this issue closely.
Committee to Save Flushing Keithâ€™s Theater, Inc.
This is a great article!!! I highly agree with Karen Noonan, President of the Theater Historical Society. The quote from the article is as follows: “If Regal pressures big-name distributors not to give first-run releases to some local theaters, the Ridgewood should instead create a new niche for itself by presenting foreign and independent films.”
The exterior deserves to be landmarked before the theater ever closes. That way, a greedy developer won’t demolish it. Let’s all send “Requests For Evaluation” forms to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (Mail this form in):
And also e-mail Robert Tierney at
Hi Warren! Thanks for sharing the recent photo. I don’t think that you would have to become a member of the sports club to find out if the original domed ceiling is still visible.
Layers of history razed for a McDonalds that could have opened elsewhere?!? How moronic!!!
I am hoping to correspond with Cinema Treasures member “jazzara” (J. Azzara) who was an usher at the Cinemart during the late 1970’s, and posted on June 5, 2004 about photos before the theater was twinned. However, that was the only posting & no photos were shared since.
I am a Forest Hills preservationist who is working with the owner of the Cinemart to assist him in the restoration of an ornate coffered ceiling from 1925 in the entryway/lobby, that was concealed with industry-standard paneling. This is one of the many activities I hope to accomplish in honor of Forest Hills' 100th anniversary this year. For more information regarding the Cinemart and my restoration goals, please follow a March 15th Daily News article by reporter Nicholas Hirshon.
I would appreciate it if anyone can share photos of the interior/exterior prior to the 2002 renovation (1925-2001). This will assist us in the restoration. If you don’t have any photos, I would appreciate any bit of advice as to where I can find some. Thank you! Please e-mail Michael at