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The Lake was built in the late 1940s, and was of similar style and layout (though reversed) as the Mercury Theatre in Middleburg Heights. As with the Mercury, it was built by Modern Theatres as a single-screen movie theatre, no working stage. When they re-opened it in the late 1970s I gave them the original wood and glass horseshoe-shaped candy stand from the Mayland Theatre, which had been taken out of use when GCC renovated that house. It was 1 guy trying to make a go of it and I wanted to help him out. The older Shore Theatre that was next door was built in the 1930s. It sat empty for many years and was in pretty bad shape when it was demolished in the early 1980s.
I believe this was the original ‘Cineplex’ – this was what launched His Arrogance The Grand Pooh-bah on his great crusade to revolutionize the movie theatre business and teach everyone else how to build and run a theatre. It was from here that he took over the Canadian Odeon chain. Unfortunately, nobody put a stake in his heart before he inflicted himself on the business in the United States.
As I recall from the trades at the time, this place was built in a parking garage, and had movable walls so room size could be adjusted (they were all very small) to accommodate the size of the audience. In the beginning it had 21 screens, some were probably combined to make a couple of decent sized screening rooms.
Seats from the late Astor Plaza have now been installed here, replacing the 1981 Griggs pushback chairs.
The original name of this theatre was Loew’s Yonge Street, and should have a listing under the Loews chain.
I remember reading about the lease dispute in Variety at the time it was happening. Somehow, the building had two leases, expiring at different times. Famous Players was operating the entire building as the Imperial Six. That slippery individual from Cineplex swooped in and made a deal with the landlord for half the building, unbeknownst to Famous Players. Famous could not access their portion of the building without going through the Cineplex portion, and according to Variety, Mr. slippery had barbed-wire and guard dogs installed in his portion to prevent that from happening. Eventually they ended up in court.
The partners who owned it – was it Justin and Nick?
Golden never built anything – they were a film-booking service and like Lesser and Creative Entertainment, booked other peoples theatres and just put their name on the display ads. They did not build, own or operate any theatres. Their office was at 1600 Bway, in the National Screen Service Bldg. The Quad was built and operated by a guy named Elliot Kanbar.
The seating capacity of the Loew’s Stillman was 1800.
The ramp into the garage from Euclid Ave goes in though the former Stillman lobby, and it still had the plaster-relief ceiling and faux-columns on the walls. The last time I saw it, about 10 years ago, the walls and ceiling had been painted yellow, and where chandeliers once hung were now mercury-vapor street light fixtures.
Wasn’t there a theatre around here called the Circle?
Wasn’t this theatre on E. 105th & Chester? – on Euclid, west of 105th was the Loew’s Park on the north side of the street, and east was the Keith’s 105 on the south side. The Alhambra remained open until the late sixties, and was demolished right after it closed, unlike the Park and the Keith’s. I remember the ads in the paper, it was always the first listing in the movie directory. It was never listed as part of a chain during the time I was aware of it.
Yes, the Palace also had Cinerama, and they also ripped out the opera boxes on either side of the stage to accommodate the cinerama screen. Those boxes have now been restored. They had the projection booth built under the balcony, but did not rip out any of the balcony structure as was done at the Loew’s State. I have photos of the Palace from when the PSA first got in there, and they show the red curtains covering the area where the extended screen was, and others where the booth under the balcony can be seen. Also photos of the balcony of the State with the cut-back clearly visable.
This theatre was never associated with Loew’s. The Loew’s State was next door, and in the 1960s the Loew’s Division Manager was ensconced there.
The Keith’s Palace was designed by the Rapp brothers, and seated 3,680 people. It was built and opened November 6, 1922 by Edward F. Albee as a monument to his vaudville-entrepreneur friend B.F.Keith. It was billed as “The Most Magnificent Theater in the World”. The Keith-Albee circuit would later become RKO, and the Palace remained RKO until it closed on July 20, 1969 while playing ‘Krakatowa East of Java’ and the air conditioning conked out. Because it was part of the large Keith office building that remained occupied, the theatre was able to be monitored, and the structure maintained. The lobby was being used as a wholesale jewelry showroom using a small side entrance on 17th St. The marquee had been removed and the front entry boarded up. When The Playhouse Square Association got involved, the Palace was in the best condition of the 4 houses (this, plus the Loew’s State, Loew’s Ohio and the RKO Allen, all sitting side-by-side).
The Allen was built for movies only and did not have a working stage, only space for the horns between the screen and the back wall. The recent renovation included construction of a large stagehouse to accommodate touring stage productions. Upon completion of the restoration, The Cleveland Orchestra was performing here while it’s home, Severance Hall, was undergoing its own renovation.
An unusual element of this theatre was the transition from the lobby to the auditorium. The lobby had (has) a 1-story ceiling, and walking towards the auditorium you enter a 2 ½ story colonaded rotunda, which at the second floor is open to the mezzanine lobby. As you went through the columns on the opposite side of the rotunda you entered the auditorium at the head of the aisles under the balcony. In the low ceiling there, the underside of the balcony, there was an eliptical dome over the seating area. This dome was also open to the mezzanine lobby area upstairs. The recent renovation, sadly, saw this dome filled in and a bar installed upstairs.
BTW, the original seating capacity of the Loew’s Ohio was 1800, today it is possibly less, since modern theatre seats are wider than seats manufactured in 1921.
The former Loew’s Ohio has had the auditorium restored as mentioned above, however the lobby here is not the original design. While Loew’s was still operating it as a movie house in the early 1960s, there was a fire in the lobby completely destroying the Thomas Lamb design. It was rebuilt in a sleek modern design, I remember red walls, 1x1 acoustic tile ceiling, hi-hat light fixtures and no trace of the ornamentation left from the Lamb design. At the time of the post-fire repairs Loew’s spray-painted the entire auditorium, dome, procenium and all, red. It had suffered only smoke damage but was otherwise intact. The lobby after the 1980s renovation is of a similar style as Lambs was, but not nearly as grand. The auditorium remains Lambs design, restored from the damage that occured after Loew’s closed it down, but possibly a different color scheme.
Several life-long New Yorkers I knew in the 80s called it ‘da Keets'
never mentioning Flushing, and everyone knew what they were talking about.
I worked here as a volunteer usher in the late 70s when they were trying to save it from the wrecking ball. Warren’s seat count is correct for the time it opened in 1921. In the 70s when they were trying to raise money to save it, they were running a dinner theatre in the lobby (there were no seats in the auditorium at the time) and they could seat (in the lobby) about 500 people for dinner at tables. In this theatre there had not been too much damage from exposure to the elements, most of the damage had been done by Loew’s. The auditorium had everything but the dome spray painted black. The opera boxes on either side of the screen had been ripped out so they could install a Cinerama screen. The Cinerama projection booth was installed under the balcony and required the balcony structure above to be cut back several rows for the beam to properly hit the screen. When it closed Loew’s sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, and some stuff that was – chandeliers, paintings, furniture, seats, etc. This is a Thomas Lamb theatre in the Adamesque style. As mentioned above, the site was on the side street, and the auditorium was behind the Keith’s Palace Theatre – the back wall of the State auditorium was against the back wall of the Palace stage. In order to have the entrance on the main avenue the lobby was built along the full length of the Palace. The figure I remember was from the curb to the auditorium entrance was 500 feet. When it was restored in the 80s, they built a new stagehouse as big as the auditorium that can handle the Metropolitan Opera when they tour. The public areas have been restored to original and the electrical/mechanical/HVAC systems replaced. It is a beautiful theatre.
In the whole Bronx, there are only 4 operating movie theatres left – Concourse, Whitestone, American and Bay Plaza, or did I miss something.
The ceiling fell down during the run of Psycho 3, whatever year that was – I thought it was 85, but it could have been 86. The Almi people were running it at the time. My boss and I heard about it as we were closing the Cinema I-II for the night and we raced down there. Initially, they thought the balcony had collapsed, but soon discovered it was the ceiling over the balcony. The few customers who were there that night said there was a big cracking noise that gave them warning and they got down on the floor between the rows of seats and were pretty much protected. One male was seriously injured – he was intox and sitting in the orchestra passed out. He didn’t get on the floor. When the ceiling fell on the balcony, it slid down into the orchestra and the intox male got speared with a steel bar. A couple of days later the remaining ceiling over the orchestra also fell down during the night. The newspaper stated that the ceiling was 90 thousand pounds of plaster and steel. The theatre remained closed for 2 years, then we had to open it up for a short time to maintain the special occupancy status, and they were still getting the plans for reconstruction together. They put up a new ceiling, used seats only in the orchestra (the balcony was empty), rented projection equipment. We were only supposed to be open for about 6 weeks. It was during this time that we played Bull Durham. They put more used seats in the balcony for the opening of Batman, and planned on keeping it open indefinately because they changed architects and were back to square-one with the reconstruction plans. It was open in that configuration for about 2 years, then it was gutted to the 4 walls and roof and the interior rebuilt, opening in 1990 as the 4-screen house that completely demolished in 2002.
This block of 59th St was a regular porn alley at one time – this theatre, the Cine Malibu, plus the theatre that would later become the Manhattan Twin, and the Lido East which was on the north side of the street closer to 3rd Ave. were all porno joints. They were the reason that the local community board had the area re-zoned to prohibit any more theatres from being built, and the existing theatres could not add any more square-footage. And I think it also prohibited an existing theatre heavily damaged by some catastrophe from being re-built. They were trying to prevent the area from becoming another 42nd St/8th Ave. I’m not positive but I think that zoning restriction is still in effect.
The proceeds from the sale of the New York properties of City Cinemas/Reading Entertainment are probably being used to finance expansion of Reading’s circuit in Australia.
Of the remaining 4 sites, only the Cinema 1-2-3 is owned. The East 86th St. and Village East are both leased, and I’m pretty sure the Angelika is also leased. The Village East was and may still be a partnership with Ackerman, and the 86th St was and may still be a partnership with the previous operator, Town & Country.
I went around there a while after the Oriental closed, and found that the auditorium, lobby and other store-fronts on 86th St. had been stripped down to the brick walls and roof. There was a freshly poured flat concrete floor in the auditorium area. When I looked in from the side exit doors there was no balcony. The only thing from the theatre that was left at that time were the brass entrance doors.
The Embassy Theatre was a relativly narrow auditorium and looked to have about 2000-2500 seats all on one floor, there was no balcony or stadium. As I recall it was art-deco style, with tall narrow milk-glass lamps hanging in the auditorium. There were shorter, wider versions of these lamps in the lobby. There was a stage with the screen, but I don’t know if it was a working stage. The ceiling of the auditorium was flat plaster, no dome, with some minimal painted geometric design. The auditorium was not closed off from the lobby, there was a standee rail behind the last row of seats and was offset to the right from the lobby. The back 3 or four rows of the left side section of seats had been removed and a concession stand installed, separated from the auditorium by only curtains. When I was there last in about 1971 it was a grind house, and could not see a lot of the detailing of the auditorium.
What, in their great wisdom, are they going to build on this site to replace the theatre? Wasn’t this site originally the backlot of one of the studios, possibly Fox? [20th CENTURY Fox = CENTURY Plaza]