Elmwood Theatre

57-02 Hoffman Drive,
Elmhurst, NY 11373

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Showing 76 - 100 of 183 comments

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on October 10, 2006 at 8:24 am

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!!!!

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on October 10, 2006 at 8:21 am

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:

View link

View link

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.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 7:56 am

I think the author of that article ought to be contacted by one of the interviewees for the piece and asked to write a follow up to call attention to the what’s going on.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on October 10, 2006 at 7:48 am

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!

View link

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!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 4:59 am

Stucco on the facade of the Elmwood? That is really disappointing. I had such high hopes when the folks at the Rock Community Church started to take on what looked like it would be a loving restoration. I understand funds are limited for the church, but to just sack the handsome terra cotta work that has graced the facade for 78 years and replace it with cheap stucco is a disgrace. Of course, that sabotages any thoughts on having the building landmarked.

Bway
Bway on October 10, 2006 at 1:05 am

Looks like we lost another one…..they are currently dropping like flies now!! In the last year alone, the Trylon, the Elmwood, and so many others….the Commodore in Brooklyn at Broadway and Marcy is currently on death watch. Demolition permits were just issued, and the Hasidum that bought the theater (a working theater just 3 or so years ago), have destroyed the interior, and now the whole building may be coming down.
They are currently dropping like flies!

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on October 9, 2006 at 1:11 pm

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!!!

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on September 17, 2006 at 7:06 am

Thanks for sharing this, Warren! We were all looking forward to the restoration of the Elmwood’s exterior by the Rock Community Church. In a Daily News article last winter, someone even said that it’s being prepared by some of the best architects. However, I passed by the Elmwood last week, and I was shocked and heartbroken to see the green & yellow terra cotta lentils above the windows completely carted away, and a new white facade that closely resembles stucco, concealing the tarditional colored bricks. I called in & the person who answered the phone said that the facade is being repaired & wouldn’t reveal any other information. Can everyone please call in, question what’s going on, and voice your opposition to the plans? I think I’ll call in again as well. There # is (718) 651-2950.

Bway
Bway on September 11, 2006 at 4:08 pm

All I have to say is “Wow”, that is some photo. It’s hard to believe Queens Blvd once looked like that.
Jeffrey, I am not sure if any of those houses are the “old woman’s” house.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on September 11, 2006 at 3:49 pm

That IS an amazing photo, Warren! Is the peaked house at left one that was actually demolished for Macy’s, or is it the one that stayed put because the woman who owned it wouldn’t sell (causing the “notch” in the round building that still exists). That house was eventually demolished years later, but which one is it in this photo?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 6, 2006 at 8:55 am

Passed by the theater last night on my way home and had my camera with me. Unfortunately, it was getting too dark for me to capture any decent images of the state of the Elmwood’s facade. I’ll have to get back there in daylight soon! Meanwhile, here are two shots showing the extensive scaffolding that surrounds the facade as well as the rooftop sign:

Corner of 57th and Hoffman
Rooftop sign

The light wasn’t sufficient for me to make out the window lintels NativeForestHiller mentioned in his post of June 27th. All that scaffolding didn’t help matters. It was just about 9pm when I took these photos and a door down on 57th Ave (just where the construction shedding ends under the fire escapes) and people seemed to be straggling in with bibles in tow for an evening service. I might have popped in had not been pressed for time. I know that taking interior photos is prohibited by the church, but I am curious to see for myself how things are going on the inside. I also now see that I might have been able to snap a detail of the windows above the marquee that are not obscured by scaffolding to investigate Native’s concerns, but again, I was a bit pressed for time.

Native… I think we might just have to be patient regarding the nature of the restoration efforts. Could it be that the lintels were in poor shape or posed a falling threat and were removed for safe keeping and/or restoration? I’ll try to get better images in proper daylight this week or weekend.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on June 26, 2006 at 10:55 pm

I passed by the Elmwood Theater about a week ago and noticed that the glazed terra cotta lintels above the upper windows & beneath the frieze have been minimized. The central portion of each lintel is still present, but what happened to the sides? I also notice that it was carted away since the facade has the imprint where it was removed. I thought the exterior is being restored & the terra cotta is being repaired, since that was what I heard originally. This is shocking! Am I seeing correctly? If you have a chance, pass by the site & then compare it to the photo on top of this thread. Please share your thoughts.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 15, 2006 at 10:59 am

Yep, Shep’s short stories provided the impetus for the film, Jeffrey1955.

Some of my posts, like this one, only incidentally relate to a specific theater. This was my one and only experience at the Elmwood, off the beaten path for me as I moved to CA in ‘78, but I do recall its severe lack of heating during the late '83 cold snap. Took about a third of the movie for my feet to regain some semblance of feeling! BklynJim became FrostbiteJim.

Two items on Jean you may or may not know. One, he did a cameo in this. Late in the movie when Ralphie returns to the department store to see Santa, he and his brother get on line. A gent in a black overcoat, a fedora and a mustache w/goatee firmly intones, “Hey, kid! The line ends back there!” Listen to the voice – that’s Shep.

The second is why in his writings he always referred to his beloved hometown of Hammond, Indiana, “Hohman.” Just learned myself that Hohman was the name of a popular movie theater in Hammond! LOL!

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on June 15, 2006 at 8:34 am

Great reminiscence, BrooklynJim — only incidentally related to the Elmwood, but still nice to hear. I used to listen to Jean Shepherd every night at 10;15 on WOR, and read the book (which was really more of a series of short stories) when I was in 6th grade. But I have to admit, this movie was so far below the radar, I didn’t even realize until I saw it on TV years later that it was based on Shepherd’s stories!

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 15, 2006 at 7:24 am

The time was late December, 1983. My wife and young son had flown from CA to NY to spend the winter with her parents in Ridgewood. I was able to fly in for a week or so (part business, part pleasure) between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Landed at JFK with the temp at a balmy 51. Nice CA weather. That night, it fell to 4 below and stayed around there for the remainder of my trip. $%#@! NY weather.

One evening, my wife suggested we see a movie. I wanted to see Al Cappuccino in “Scarface” at the Ridgewood, but she wasn’t up for that one, based on the reviews. Too violent. She did notice, however, that Jean Shepherd’s ‘66 novel, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” had been made into “A Christmas Story.” She told me and I was sold. (Shepherd, late of WOR radio and top Playboy humorist, was one of my fave writers, then and now.) Taking my youngest sister-in-law with us, off we went by bus in frigid weather to the Elmwood.

Loved the movie, thought it was a tour-de-force hoot. So did my wife. Unfortunately, our sentiments were not shared by her sister. Only when younger brother Randy stuck his face into the mashed potatoes to show his mom how piggies ate did she laugh, but that was it, just that one time. (Shoulda sent her to see “Scarface!”

Later, I was disappointed that “A Christmas Story” hadn’t caught on with audiences. It took years and multiple TV viewings. Now it’s a holiday classic. (You know that’s so when a website pops up to tell you every error in continuity, place and dialog within this low-budget flick. Some people get their jollies in strange ways.)

To demonstrate how miniscule the budget was: Kathy Hawkins, a nurse and former neighbor of mine, had a grandfather in Cleveland where the film was shot. He loaned the director a wind-up tank that is given a decent close-up early on when the kids are oogling all the great Christmas stuff in the window of Higbee’s Department Store. For his donation, he and the family received passes to see the movie.

Today, living directly across the street from me, is a pack of dogs that turns on their primitive howling at top volume whenever they hear fire engines nearby. Naturally, my neighbors and I refer to them as…the Bumpus hounds. What else?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 5:34 am

NYC must have been a bit slow in issuing its final C/O’s… The theater was definitely in operation as a twin by late 1980 as evidenced by this Movie Clock listing from December of that year:

Daily News 12/14/1980

Bway
Bway on June 12, 2006 at 4:44 am

I “think” it was just a twin when I saw Back to the Future in 1985 there, but I can’t guarantee it. I saw Back to the Future Downstairs, and I “think” it was still the whole orchestra level, but like I said, it’s over 20 years….

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 4:25 am

When my Junior High School graduation was held at the Elmwood in June of 1979, the theater was still a single (and playing the horrible monster movie “The Prophecy”). Sometime by the following year, the place was twinned up and down. I don’t remember it as a triplex, but by the end of the ‘80’s the theater was a quartet with 2 up and 2 down (see the seat counts Lost Memory provided above on June 3rd).

Bway
Bway on June 12, 2006 at 3:43 am

By the way, I haven’t been inside the Elmwood Theater since I saw “Back to the Future” there in 1985, so that’s over 20 years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember if it was “multiplexed” yet by that point. But how was it split up? Why would one of the Turrets have been damaged? Did they cut the orchestra level down the middle? Was the turret damaged when they tried to put a screen on one half? How many screens was the Elmwood cut into?

Bway
Bway on June 12, 2006 at 3:36 am

Thanks for the update Warren. I’d like to one day get over there myself.
Anyway, as for them retoring the theater, this is probably the best we can hope for. A chirch is a good “after theater” life for a theater, as they are probably one of the best non-theater afterlifes a theater can get, as churches lend themselves well to theaters.

But it also has to be remembered that they have to make the building suitable for their use. That would include much better lighting than a theater would have offered. That is one of the reasons the Valencia had that chandelier added. While a theater can have “mood lighting” when you come in to be able to see to get to your seats, a theater’s use is “in nthe dark”. While a church must be flooded with light to be able to see readings, hymn books, or whatever they are reading while at service. A church must flood the interior with light, while a movie theater wouldn’t need that. That is the reason you are going to see lighting in there, that you never would have seen as a movie theater.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on June 5, 2006 at 5:56 am

Warren’s first reason seems more like it in this case.

Bway
Bway on June 5, 2006 at 5:53 am

Well, I can understand that they don’t want photos taken during services, but I wouldn’t understand it if it was after services.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on June 3, 2006 at 5:14 pm

I don’t understand why the church won’t permit interior photographs. You’d think if they’re proud of the restoration work, they would be willing to show it off.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on June 3, 2006 at 8:00 am

It seems as if they will keep the rooftop sign, which will add to the building’s distinctive history. The address & phone of the Rock Community Church/Elmwood is as follows:

Rock Community Church
5702 Hoffman Dr
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 651-2950

ShortyC
ShortyC on June 3, 2006 at 5:31 am

Will they keep the Elmwood sign thats on the roof? It would be nice if they kept it.