The Space at Westbury

250 Post Avenue,
Westbury, NY 11590

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Showing 126 - 150 of 166 comments

RobertR
RobertR on November 8, 2004 at 3:36 pm

I feel like writing a screen play about this once great theatre and the insane couple who ran it into the ground, but who would believe it.

chconnol
chconnol on November 8, 2004 at 2:59 pm

Here’s one more annoying memory about the owners who were kooks. This happened after the infamous cough-drop incident.

My and a few friends were there to see an “art” film (maybe “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” or something like that. While waiting on line, this guy had one of those car radios that you used to remove from the dashboard (don’t know if they still make them). Anyway…the woman owner was working the counter and noticed this. She sent her husband over to the guy to tell him he couldn’t take it into the theater. The husband told the guy this and a pretty nifty little fight ensued. Of course the guy with the radio argued that it was a car radio but the owners would have none of it. Long story short, the guy was ejected from the theater (with his friends). We all had a big laugh. The owners, honest to God, were very strange people. Seemed like nerdy control freaks.

And yes, for awhile, it was one of the few places to see independent/art films on Long Island. The only other place was the New Community Cinema out in Huntington.

RobertR
RobertR on November 2, 2004 at 8:39 pm

Why anyone put up with this lunacy is beyond me, these two should have been put in an asylum and the key thrown away.

sethbook
sethbook on November 2, 2004 at 8:07 pm

Not only did the theatre owners forbid “outside food,” one time, they practically followed my friend’s mother back to her car to make sure she didn’t surreptitiously return with the contraband can of diet soda.

I only saw two movies there: Raiders of the Lost Ark when it was re-released in 1982, and The Trip to Bountiful. At the second one, I was sucking on a lifesaver, and an usher told me to spit it out and I refused, and he said he’d get the manager and I said, “Go ahead,” but nothing happened. Then, they shut off the projector during the end credits. That completely set me OFF and I yelled at the usher, “I paid $6.50 to see this movie and I want to see ALL the goddamned credits!” He was mystified and I stormed off.

RobertR
RobertR on October 24, 2004 at 4:10 pm

Any action taking place here yet?

RobertR
RobertR on October 14, 2004 at 9:38 pm

Sorry, dumb mistake on my part. I saw the web address had UK in it, but with those 2 you never knew what was going to happen.

PaulLD1
PaulLD1 on October 13, 2004 at 10:38 am

Sadly, the last link is for a “Campaign for a Theatre in Westbury” refers to Westbury, Wiltshire, in ENGLAND (in the southern region, west of London). It would have been nice if the people of Westbury, New York were as enthused about their theatre as the people of Westbury, England are.

RobertR
RobertR on October 12, 2004 at 10:03 pm

If only she spent $200 to fix the hole in the roof.

View link

RobertR
RobertR on October 12, 2004 at 10:01 pm

Here is a story from the Westbury Times regarding the theatre last year. Seems it was about to be auctioned off before.

View link

RobertR
RobertR on October 4, 2004 at 10:39 pm

They may have loved the business but even putting aside their abuse of customers, they knew nothing about booking. To play Paramount movies just because they shipped free was sheer lunacy. They could have picked up the prints themselves if they did not want to pay Long Island Film Shipping to do it. Many of the art distributors would not service them anymore, for reasons I wont go into on here. They never would offer a bargain matinee and acted like it was a privilege to be allowed to see a movie there. It worked for awhile when they were about the only place in Nassau County to see an art film. The minute the Malverne and Manhasset and later Kew Gardens went art nobody in their right mind went there anymore. That theatre could have even went $3 and played second run moveovers and would have done alot more then it took in. One last thing, I wish I could remember the double feature that one of the film companies released in the early 90’s (so rare even then)but they actually put one film in each screen and charged a seperate admission for each. Every place else it was a double feature. I can guarantee they reported the grosses from just one side and not the total, if anyone was crazy enough to see them there.

PeterCirona
PeterCirona on October 4, 2004 at 7:00 pm

I have known the owners for many, many years—over 30! Although some say they mismanaged the property, they loved the business and did their best to keep it going with little money.

PeterCirona
PeterCirona on October 4, 2004 at 6:57 pm

Actually, in response to Robert’s comment, the Salisbury Theatre is now a CVS Drug Store. National Wholesale Liquidators occupies the building formerly owned by Pergament Hardware.

PaulLD1
PaulLD1 on October 1, 2004 at 5:59 am

More memories! I remember waiting for some popcorn with some other family (I think “Fairy Tale” was showing that week—er I mean season). The little girls' eyes lit up in amazement as the old fashioned metal corn popper spilled out its lushious white kernals. “Oh my God!” one of them exclaimed. Another time, a family was gathering to see “Snow Day” (that too ran forever) when I walked out of the auditorium to ask Mrs. S a question. The dad’s face turned ashen white, and then he said cautiously, “guys, why don’t we it playing at Roosevelt Field instead?”, and they all left. Geez Pops, was it something I said? A lot of people thought I worked
there, and when the film would jump or break, and someone would ask
me “go tell them to fix it”, I’d angrily reply “YOU tell them!” As
to the above poster, yes I do remember when the Westbury showed “La
Traviata” (I once thought the Westbury had originally opened as an
opera house, because of the [fake] boxes on either side, I felt I
was returning to their roots). I also saw “Mr. Smith…”, and I
heard two old ladies exclaim to Mrs. S. as I walked out, “Oh Uncle
Billy was fabulous!”, “Casablanca” too, as part of their Bogart
festival (which I tried to get them to extend another week with my
copy of “Call It Murder”. They didn’t have 16mm equipment) I think
the other films in the series was that war movie and noir movie he made for Columbia (the names escape me for now), “Sabrina”, and “The Caine Mutiny”. But the one movie that lasted forever there was “Tender Mercies”. I remember Mrs. S. saying that she would show the movie until Robert DuVal made a personal appearance. She gave up after three or four years of showing it. As I said before, I have broken my back in lottery tickets over the past few weeks, hoping to win big to bid on the theatre. I didn’t attend the auction, not only because of a lack of funds, but I was also rehearsing a show I’m doing in December at Symphony Space (plug, plug). The Westbury Theatre has given me alot of terrific memories. From the Saturday matinees in the 60’s with a cold, stern, matronly woman keeping order with a scowl and a snear; the midnight shows of the 70’s, where I saw “Reefer Madness”, Beatle films, Betty Boop cartoons, and the like; from the couple taking over in the 80’s, and watching the staff dwindle to just those two. Up to my almost weekly pilgrimage in the 90’s, when I thought every week would be my last one there. They may take away the Westbury Theatre, but no one can ever take away the memories of that theatre. Memories of which I’ll cherish forever.

lopez
lopez on October 1, 2004 at 5:02 am

Hey Orlando, please do post the interior photos of the Westbury and any pending news on the new owner’s intented use. Sounds like an attempt to save this theater is too late. What a shame for such a unique structure. From my last visit there a few months back, I’d estimate that the cost to save the place would have easily exceed the $5 – $7 million dollar range. My hunch is that the new owner will try to demolish the theatre and put some type of senior housing/assisted living units and/or an office building. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong…
Another Westbury memory – anyone recall the annual recurrance of the following titles – Casablanca, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, La Traviata, Streetwise, Raiders of the Lost Ark? I’m assuming Corrine and Rod owned or conveniently held onto prints of these movies. Aside from Raiders, I could not picture them actually booking and paying for these same rep house titles over and over again. It seemed anytime Paramount was totally out of product, they’d play one of those films for as many weeks as necessary to fill the gaps. Who the world at Paramount was willing to even continue booking them all those years anyway?

br91975
br91975 on October 1, 2004 at 12:46 am

I hate to sound cold, but Corrine and her fellow owner(s) have few other people to blame but themselves for the current state of the Westbury, both the structure itself and the fact that the property ever had to be auctioned off.

Orlando
Orlando on September 30, 2004 at 11:17 pm

The owner, Corrine Staehle was present, sitting in the first row against the wall with her attorney. She was asking at the end of the bidding who the high bidder was. She looked like she was calm and sat quietly during the proceedings. Maybe l’ll see you Saturday at the Loew’s Jersey and give you the details.

RobertR
RobertR on September 30, 2004 at 10:51 pm

Were the two owners present?

Orlando
Orlando on September 30, 2004 at 10:39 pm

Today, the Weatbury Theatre, apartments and storefronts were auctioned in Central Islip Court House. Bids started at $500,000 and I had told someone this past Monday at the theatre that it would go for $1.5 million since it sits on 9 lots. I was off by $150,000. Two bidders made the price bid go back between the two of them for the million dollar increase. Then one bidder, who had not bidded at all put up the bid of $1,650,000 and won the property, with a second bidder coming in at $1,625,000. The high bidder prior to the start of the bidding asked if there were any tenants in the apartments or the storefronts (he was communicating on cell phone and did not inspect the property prior to bidding). If he would have inspected, he would have known that the property was vacant. This leads me to believe that other plans that don’t include a theatre or the current structure will be in play after the title is transfered in thirty days, which was extended by the judge instead of the two weeks. I’ll keep everyone posted. I took many pictures of the backstage area and some of the original stained-glass exit signs (numbered) that are falling out of their holdings. What a sad day for Westbury.

MarkA
MarkA on September 30, 2004 at 6:00 pm

Warren,

The Westbury had a two manual, six rank Midmer-Losh Organ in it. I saw it in ‘75. The console was disconnected and at the rear of the stage and the pipes were still in their chamber. Wonder if anything is left.

RonMotta
RonMotta on September 28, 2004 at 11:12 pm

I wonder if a woman who was breast feeding an infant would have been kicked out for bringing in outside beverages?

In all seriousness, this is one instance where you can’t blame the decline of a theater on faceless corporate conglomerates or greedy town supervisors. The Westbury Theater closed because of the owners' own incompetence. I mean, jeez, letting rain pour into the theater? No wonder why it smelled like a basement! Here’s hoping that whoever wins the auction on Thursday will commit to revitalizing this theater—which, I believe, could be the lynchpin in revitalizing that section of town.

Oh, and I totally agree the someone needs to investigate what happened to those “donations” the owners collected.

RobertR
RobertR on September 28, 2004 at 10:01 pm

Even under reporting their grosses I dont see how they managed to stay open as long as they did. Some of those Paramount movies played there long after they disappeared from even Manhattan houses. For the sake of paying Long Island Film Delivery the cost to ship a print, or they could have gone to Fort Lee and picked up the thing themselves they let the theatre sit and die. They lost all their art house crowd to the Malverne after the cough drops, camera and other insane stunts.

PaulLD1
PaulLD1 on September 28, 2004 at 11:19 am

Some more memories: The owner once told me that AMC (not to be confused with the current abobmination) wanted to film a commercial there, but backed down, she said, because they wouldn’t meet her price. She also told me at the same time, that she had turned down a lot of offers from newspapers and magazines offering to write articles about the theatre (some of which I am sure could have alerted people about the theatre), because “they always want to make me out as some kind of character”.

RobertR
RobertR on September 28, 2004 at 4:19 am

Paul
You have me roaring here. I think a movie could be made about those two kooks. Have you ever heard of a theatre asking for donations? It was not a non-profit like Film Forum. The district attorneys office should have investigated all of this. I mentioned in an earlier post that they used to have a jar on the candy stand asking for donations to quad the theatre.

PaulLD1
PaulLD1 on September 28, 2004 at 12:02 am

To the above posters, the Westbury showed Paramount films in the last few years, because as the owner told me, that studio had no shipping costs. There was a program there called “C-Note Chorus”, in which for a contribution of $100 (a C-Note, get it?), you would help contribute to the renovation of the theatre, and have your name on the marquee for a week. I remember one week, my second grade teacher had her name up there! Yes, she tried to have me contribute, but being the poor boy I was (and still am), I kindly backed off. Unlike many patrons, the owners of the Westbury were very good to me, maybe because I was often the only customer there
(imagine seeing “Titanic” when it was still new, in a theatre all alone. My niece, then a Leo freak—-what teenaged girl wasn’t then?—
-was thrilled!) Or maybe it was because I never tried to “wake” them. One time, I tried to get them to install some 16mm equipment,
so I could lend them some of my public domain movies (every now and then, the theatre would have a repretory format, such as the Bogart
festival in the summer of 1997). One sight I would never forget, was
when I got up “to go to go”, when there in the lobby, in a world
all his own, was the owner’s husband, playing the accordian, and
singing Italian arias in a clear tenor voice! Clearly, I would have
loved to have saved the Westbury Theatre. That’s why I’m hoping to
win the lottery tomorrow, so I can get in there and bid this
Thursday. Oh well, dream on…