Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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LuisV on March 22, 2009 at 8:12 am

It most definitely is NOT demolished. Though I do feel it was desecrated (pun intended) by the resident church by painting the interior in bright colors and draping the nudes so as not to offend churchgoers.

Even so, the Valencia remains one of the most beautiful theaters ever built and I am grateful to the church for having saved it back in the terrible late 70’s. Otherwise, it may have suffered the fate of so many other palaces: demolition.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I believe it’s up and running as a church, with most of its glory intact. Not demolished.

AldoCP on March 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm

This was my favorite movie theater. I loved to go there and just look around. It was magnificent.
It was a mistake to demolish it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 23, 2008 at 6:52 am

Thanks, Ken, for reminding me of an incident that happened a few weeks before I started working as a part-time usher at Loew’s Valencia. Mr. Shamp nearly had a nervous breakdown due to that incident, and retired permanently within months. He had previously been robbed while working as assistant manager at Loew’s Kameo in Brooklyn. He was replaced at the Valencia by John Mellucci, who was transferred from Loew’s Hillside.

kencmcintyre on November 22, 2008 at 4:56 pm

From the NYT, dated 5/5/53:

MOVIE ROBBED OF $2,375; Queens Theatre Official Bound by 3 After Income Tax Ruse

Three hold-up men, two of them brandishing pistols, took $2,375 from Loew’s Valencia Theatre in Jamaica. Queens, yesterday and left the assistant manager, Henry Shamp of 212-08 Seventy-fifth Street, Bayside, Queens, tied up with twine on the floor of his office.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 22, 2008 at 7:56 am

Portions of the Valencia’s marquee and entrance can be seen in this August 1949 photo showing fans awaiting the arrival of Al Jolson to promote his new movie, “Jolson Sings Again.” The Life Magazine archive also has a shot of Jolson performing on stage at Loew’s Pitkin in Brooklyn, which was another stop on the tour. That tour has beed discussed before at Cinema Treasures at listings for Loew’s Valencia, Loew’s Prospect, and perhaps others:
View link

Bway on August 21, 2008 at 7:52 am

WOW! That is so interesting about that church!! I passed that church more times than I can count when passing by on the LIRR behind it….

PeterKoch on August 14, 2008 at 9:01 am

Thanks, Lost Memory.

PeterKoch on August 13, 2008 at 7:58 am

Good thought, LuisV.

LuisV on August 13, 2008 at 7:56 am

Too bad they can’t switch venues!

PeterKoch on August 13, 2008 at 7:51 am

Thanks for posting this, Warren. So, to some extent, the changes in the Valencia and the Jamaica church compensated for each other. Odds are, the multi-purpose performance space at the new arts center will include a movie screen.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 12, 2008 at 2:52 pm

By a twist of fate, Loew’s Valencia became a church and a Jamaica church became a performing arts center. Figure!
View link

PeterKoch on July 15, 2008 at 10:02 am

Thanks, HBH ! I grok you loud and clear !

HBH on July 15, 2008 at 8:39 am

comment from a relatively “young-un” – One of the great movie experiences of my childhood was “Lawrence of Arabia” – and in THAT theater and on THAT screen, I’ll say no more.
And you know what else – one of the saddest Saturdays in American History, the rainy day after JFK’s assassination, went to see “The Haunting”

PeterKoch on July 14, 2008 at 7:38 am

Thanks for posting your recollection of the Valencia here, Don.

Jazziest on July 13, 2008 at 9:25 am

Great to read these rich exchanges about this grand palace. My grandmother took me several times in the mid-late 1930s, and I still recall my awe at the constellations above us. I wept when Dick Powell sang “Don’t Give Up the Ship” in (I think) “The Singing Marine.”


Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 1, 2008 at 9:42 am

In September, 1949, Kathryn Grayson and new star discovery Mario Lanza did a tour of Loew’s circuit theatres in advance of their “That Midnight Kiss” opening at the Capitol in midtown Manhattan. Miss Grayson’s husband, Johnnie Johnston, emceed the stage proceedings. This ad mentions only the Valencia,46th Street, Pitkin, and Oriental, but I’m sure that there were other theatres on adjacent evenings: View link

PKoch on May 14, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Good point, Warren. Thanks. Have you mentioned this to the management of CT ?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 14, 2008 at 1:49 pm

The main entry needs to be changed. Under “Loew’s Valencia” it should say Jamaica, NY, or Jamaica, Queens, NY (not just Queens, NY). And the specific address underneath should also include mention of Jamaica (and should not be just Queens, NY). The listing for the Ridgewood Theatre in Ridgewood, Queens mentions the community in both cases. Why should Loew’s Valencia be treated differently?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 9, 2008 at 10:44 am

I’ve tried to resuscitate this aged press clipping from June, 1955, which shows an air raid practice drill taking place on Jamaica Avenue. A cop is directing a pedestrian to take shelter in the Valencia’s entrance. Ironically, the feature movie that day was “Run For Cover,” supported by “Conquest of Space.” Also on the bill was a Technicolor short detailing Danny Kaye’s roving ambassadorship for UNICEF: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 2, 2008 at 11:10 am

Here are new links to an opening day ad and a view of the auditorium. The black shadows behind the statuary across the top of the stage area were caused by the flash used at the time:
View link
View link

PKoch on May 2, 2008 at 10:18 am

All too true, Life’s too short.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 1, 2008 at 7:03 pm

A discussion of atrocities would not be complete without mentioning the Elmwood:


Bway on May 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Ziggy you are correct. The Velencia’s biggest problem is a chandelier and a questionable chocie of paint. That’s pretty much it. I totally agree with Warren that the paint choice is garish ar best, but hey, it’s protecting the plaster, and it’s only paint. The Kings which has lost a lot of it’s plaster that would have to be duplicated, the Amsterdam had severe plaster problems, and yes, I have seen before and after photos of the Paradise. The Valencia is not even a hint of “lost”, a new paint job, and a missing chandelier, and the Valencia is back in business as original.

Another theater I feel that is TOTALLY salvagable is the RKO Keith’s in Richmond Hill, which unlike the Valencia, lost all it’s seats…but is relatively intact inside. Not nearly as well maintained as the Valencia (and of course not as ornate to begin with), but it’s plaster is protected under a coat of nondescript one color beige paint. I rather see that though, as hope exists there, as it’s intact, and the building is maintained…..than seeing it gutted and turned into a drug store with a drop ceiling.

Ziggy on May 1, 2008 at 10:46 am

Yes, we’ve been through this before, and yes it would be better if the Valencia had not been repainted, but the Paradise was so chopped up and remodled inside that it actually made a list of “lost” buildings of NYC because it was assumed it could never be restored to its original look. Now look at it! Granted it’s not a complete resoration, but it looks pretty much like its old self again. The Kings has some serious water damage, yet people are still saying its restorable. The New Amsterdam actually had mushrooms growing in it because it had been so neglected. Compared to these theatres, having to (hopefully) restore the Valencia’s original paint job, and removing that chandelier, does not seem like such a big job.