Elmwood Theatre

57-02 Hoffman Drive,
Elmhurst, NY 11373

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 7:25 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).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 12, 2006 at 7:13 am

The Elmwood was first twinned (top and bottom). The two auditoriums were later divided. On the orchestra floor, the right-hand auditorium was wider than the left. The dividing wall was in the vicinity of the left turret, which had to be partially removed to make way for it.

Bway
Bway on June 12, 2006 at 6:43 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 6:36 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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 12, 2006 at 6:24 am

During a visit yesterday, I found the repair work to be moving slowly but surely. The castle turret to the left of the stage, which was severely damaged during the sub-division of the auditorium, has been fully restored but is not yet open to view due to scaffolding being used for work on an adjacent wall. I was a bit shocked to see that the two side exits in the auditorium have been drastically changed. The medieval ornamentation surrounding the doors was removed. The exits now have peaked roofs, supported by fluted columns at each side. At present, all the walls and ceiling are painted varying shades of white. I don’t know whether they’ll stay that way or will eventually be re-painted with colors. My overall impression is that the church is trying to retain the original castle design of the stage area, but not committed to restoring the rest of the auditorium to what it was before. Many contemporary lighting fixtures have been installed on the side walls. The balcony is still closed, but work is obviously going on there. The orchestra floor was long ago stripped of seats and still uses folding chairs. The front enrance under the marquee is still closed, and entry is through a side door on 57th Avenue…After leaving, I took another look at the roof sign and noticed that the lower left corner of the “L” in “ELMWOOD” is broken and has a piece missing. I don’t know if there are any plans to restore the sign. And even if it is, I doubt that it will ever be lighted again, as the operating costs would be too expensive. And who would pay for it?

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on June 5, 2006 at 8:56 am

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

Bway
Bway on June 5, 2006 at 8:53 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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 4, 2006 at 7:04 am

The work is far from completed, which might be the reason why photographs are not permitted. There’s always a chance that an unflattering photo might get published in a newspaper. Also, many churches forbid picture-taking because it can distract and/or offend worshippers.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on June 3, 2006 at 8:14 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 11:00 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 8:31 am

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

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 24, 2006 at 6:56 am

The church will not permit interior photographs, but visitors are welcome during Sunday services, which start around noon and continue for several hours, including fellowship afterwards.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on May 24, 2006 at 2:37 am

Has anyone visited the Elmwood Theatre/Rock Community Church recently & taken photos of the restoration in progress? I would prefer interior shots, although my fellow members might find exterior shots beneficial as well. Much appreciated!

YeXDO
YeXDO on April 21, 2006 at 9:17 am

I have visited The Rock Church in Kissimmee, FL, close to Orlando and can reassure you that it is in great hands. The staff and leadership are doing a marvelous job remodeling the old arena area, lobby and foyer. This added to a high tempo of services every week! It’s great to see the dedication and commitment of their awesome staff. The greater Orlando area has many physically and spiritually needy folks just as any metro. They’re helping to save more than buildings here. My hat is off for the distance they’ve come to date and I pray for their continued success supporting the disadvantaged that live in our communities.

stevenl
stevenl on April 20, 2006 at 1:02 am

first movie i saw there was Godfather last movie seen there Golden child with ed murphy.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on April 4, 2006 at 8:40 pm

I think somebody finally stole the hat.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 4, 2006 at 8:19 pm

Certainly more charming than any of the current non-trailer “pre-show” reels they play in most theaters today. Thanks for sharing that, Robert. Brought back some memories. I seem to recall that played in the late 1980’s or maybe early ‘90’s? Anyone remember that reel that featured Dom DeLuise? I forget which theaters it played in. Possibly Loew’s, but maybe the old Redstone or National Amusements? And whatever happened to all those Will Rogers Institute pass-the-hat ads?

RobertR
RobertR on March 29, 2006 at 2:44 pm

Remember this cute Loew’s short?
View link

Bway
Bway on March 9, 2006 at 7:07 am

Any photos available of the progress inside?

Bway
Bway on March 9, 2006 at 7:03 am

While we are all sad that the Elmwood will no longer be showing movies anymore, I am so glad that it is in good hands in it’s new life. May you have many years of happiness in the old theater as your new church. It’s the next best thing after it’s original use for the building. It’s so nice to see it is in loving hands, and not going to be gutted for retail.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on March 8, 2006 at 12:15 pm

You deserve it. Fabulous! All the best always!!!

RockChurch
RockChurch on March 8, 2006 at 11:51 am

I am a congregant with The Rock Church. You should all know about the treasure that you are seeing. We received this church as a gift from God after years of being “homeless” and no facility.
After years of praying and serving thousands of people in our community through programs for youth and children, theater and social services we received not only the elmwood theater as a home, but also another mega arena in Orlando, Florida that seats 5000 people. The Elmwood theater will be known as the diamond of Queens whose renovation and restoration is being monitored and prepared by some the best architectural minds in the nation. You will shortly see that many will come from all over to participate in our theatrical productions, school and other programs. There will be a formal unveiling of this treasure. Do not worry there will never be another owner of this theater besides the Rock Church.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on January 27, 2006 at 10:37 pm

TIMES LEDGER: View link

Church’s renovation of theater in Elmhurst saves historic site
By Adam Pincus
01/26/2006

Preservationists are applauding the efforts of a Christian church to convert a historic movie theater in Elmhurst into an auditorium for their congregation, saving a 1928 building that was considered for demolition.

Faith Ministries Inc. has slowly rehabilitated the building, which it purchased in 2002 from Sony Loews Theatres, while holding services at 57-02 Hoffman Dr., which it is calling the Rock Community Church.

“It’s great that they are fixing it up,” said Richard Italiano, chairman of Community Board 4 which covers Elmhurst and Corona.

The 2,200-seat theater began as a combination movie theater and vaudeville space under the name Queensboro Theatre, although its early years were not easy, writer and historian Warren Harris said.

Harris grew up on a street just behind the theater and said his mother attended opening night when the theater ran a silent version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and several vaudeville routines. But attendance was weak during the Depression and Harris said the building spent much of its first 18 years dark.

The building had its first makeover in 1946, when the name was changed to Elmwood. In 1979 Sony Loews bought the property and subsequently divided the space into four theaters.

In 1999, the possible demolition of the building was included as part of a deal proposed by the Mattone Group to build an 18-theater multiplex in a nearby site. That deal was put on hold, however, and three years later Sony Loews sold the property.

Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) said the rehabilitation was good for the neighborhood.
“Anything they do will be an improvement because that facility needed to have repairs,” she said.

Michael Perlman, a Queens preservationist, said the theater was a prime example of the borough’s ornate movie palaces.
“I am happy that they decided to restore the Elmwood Theatre to its former glory,” Perlman said. He noted that other historic theaters, such as the Trylon Theatre in Forest Hills and the RKO Keith’s in Flushing, are facing significant alterations as they are renovated.

The Trylon, built for the 1939 World’s Fair, is being converted into a Jewish community center; while developers plan to convert RKO Keith’s into a mix of residential and commercial uses.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on January 19, 2006 at 10:28 am

Hi Warren! I see we were both quoted. You did a superb job, & reporter Nicholas Hirshon wrote a solid piece!!! Hopefully, something should be done right now, prior to a different ownership. I will work on convincing the LPC to landmark the Elmwood in the near future. I still did not give up on the Trylon. It’s not an easy battle, but victory is determination! – Michael Perlman

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on January 19, 2006 at 9:04 am

Yes! Nice job, Warren.