Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 14, 2006 at 7:55 am

“South Pacific” enjoyed a re-release at the two big Loew’s houses in Queens, late spring of ‘64:

Showcase Presentation – LI Star Journal 5/18/64

This “Showcase Presentation” also included bookings into a number of Century’s Theaters, according to another ad elsewhere in that paper.

Bway on June 18, 2006 at 4:30 pm

She could, but it all depends on how old she was at the time. If she was a teenager, she could still be alive. Chances are slimer and slimer that she’s still alive if she was any older than a teenager.

PKoch on June 15, 2006 at 10:06 am

Welcome, Wasu ! Thanks for posting your experience here. I have heard from others about how magical the Valencia Theatre was. We could very much use someone here of your age and experience. I hope you enjoy, and continue to contribute to, this site.

You might be of particular help to some of us younger members who are trying to probe and figure out the past, such as the Ridgewood Follies Theater, or the Gem or Embassy Theaters in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn.

As you are about my father’s age, I would appreciate any help you may have to offer about the Bushwick, Bklyn theaters he remembers attending, such as the Decatur, the Monroe, and larger movie houses like the RKO Bushwick, Loews Gates, and the Colonial.

wasu on June 15, 2006 at 9:57 am

I saw Tarzan the Ape Man at the Valencia in Jamaica in 1932. I was thirteen years old.

I don’t know what thrilled me the most, the movie or that magical ceiling with its movable clouds and stars.

I have never had a theatrical experience to equal it.


Bway on June 13, 2006 at 4:16 pm

I agree Warren. Perhaps “restoration” was the wrong word. I guess I should have said “renovation”, as of course the building is being very well maintained. The colors are pretty gaudy, but again, at least the paint protects the plaster, and it’s just paint, who knows, one day, it could be “restored”. And of course, as I mentioned somewhere else (I think in the Elmwood page), the church has to make the building suitable for their needs, and that of course means flooding the interior with a lot more light than was necessary as a movie theater. The atmospheric design may have worked for people entering the building and sitting, waiting for a movie or performance to begin, but that may not be apropriate or needed for people coming to religious service.
At least the building is being maintained. It’s not ideal that it’s interior has those really wild colors, the chandelier there, and not showing movies, but it’s obviously a lot better than the alternative. In the meantime, the building is being cared for, and who knows, one day very very far in the future……. That’s a lot more than so many other theaters can ever hope for which are lost forever.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 10:48 am

Pam Grier was “Foxy Brown”. And let’s not forget Rosalind Cash in 1971’s “The Omega Man”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 13, 2006 at 10:10 am

I passed by there today… One day I’ll have to go in for a peak around and maybe enjoy the choir. And BrooklynJim, don’t forget the sequel to “Blacula”… “Scream Blacula Scream” featuring the lovely Pam Grier as a modern day voodoo priestess!

Bway on June 13, 2006 at 8:49 am

True, well the stage becomes the altar, just with the screen removed. At the Valencia, the Choir sings from the stage, at least that’s what it looks like from the photos.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 8:30 am

Or a pulpit. Sometimes the stage remains, or is refurbished, and is used for live singing (choir) or dance productions.

Bway on June 13, 2006 at 8:10 am

Jim, it’s unfortunate that the Valencia is no longer a theater, however, at least the building survives. The church takes very good care of the building, and has actually renovated and restored the interior. There are photos linked far above on this page.
They have chosen extrememly garish and gaudy color schemes for the interior of the Valencia, however, at least it is being well maintained, as the alternative would have been a shame to see it rot like the RKO Keith’s Flushing, or the Kings in Brooklyn, or worse, demolished.
Churches lend themselves well as an after theater use, as they need much of the same features a theater needs. Most of the time, they won’t look all that different when you go into them after conversion to a church, as all the seats remain, the ornamentation, etc. The only thing absent is the screen replaced with an altar.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 7:18 am

Try looking for “Blacula” on DVD or VHS.

BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 7:09 am

Dang, Peter, I never got to see “Blacula.” Rats! Mebbe before I head for that big Box Office in the Sky…

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 5:00 am

Thanks for your input on the Valencia, BrooklynJim. Yes, there was also a Merrick Theatre, not far from the Alden. They, along with the Hillside, all have pages on this site.

There is plenty of material on this page about the Valencia as a church, The Tabernacle Of Prayer For All People.

I remember the “blaxploitation” films very well, including “Shaft” and “Foxy Brown” : “She’s sweet brown sugar and spice, who’ll put your ass on ice !” or some such slogan. Also William Marshall as “Blacula”, 1969’s “Change Of Mind”, about a black-white brain transplant, starring Raymond St. Jacques and Susan Oliver, and November 1974’s “Abby”, the blaxploitation cash-in on “The Exorcist” :

“Abby doesn’t need a man any more … the Devil is her lover now !”

BrooklynJim on June 12, 2006 at 12:09 pm

The Valencia, for years hidden in shadows of the 168th St. station, was IMHO one of the classiest theaters in Queens, not just Jamaica. I started attending St. John’s in ‘63, so this, the RKO Alden and the Hillside on Sutphin Blvd. (was there a Merrick Theater too?) were added to my list of movie haunts. Sadly, other than the earliest James Bond films with Sean Connery, I cannot remember too many other specific movies that I saw there.

What I do vividly recall are more atmospheric memories. For example, Cassius Clay a.k.a. Muhummad Ali connected with many a black movie-goer by having some of his fights shown at this theater on closed circuit TV, very much like today’s Pay-Per-View. It was a bit out of my price range, so I never got to attend any of those.

Jamaica and other parts of Queens were changing ethnically and demographically, so the latter part of the ‘60s and the early '70s had a glut of the so-called “blaxploitation” films. In a way, this was good for black movie makers and chain theater operators, but white folks seemed to be out of their comfort zone with this. Sad, because there were a couple of real gems they missed, but maybe they caught up with later on TV or home video: “Foxy Brown” with Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree’s/Gordon Parks’ “Shaft” to name just two.

Jamaica Ave. doesn’t look the same to me without the el, and I saw that the Valencia is now a gospel-type church. Praise da Lord! Amen!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 8:58 am

Thanks for the heads-up, Warren!

PKoch on June 5, 2006 at 5:15 am

It seems from what you’ve written, Warren, that, in 1934, Jamaica needed a new store more than a new theatre.

RobertR on June 2, 2006 at 4:06 pm

An exclusive late in the game
View link

PKoch on May 31, 2006 at 6:18 am

You’re welcome, robbie dupree. My pleasure. Bway has many interesting things to say and show about the Broadway Theater, which once stood at the southwest corner of Bway and Myrtle Avenue, and which dates back to the late 19th century. I think there’s a page on it on this site.

Thanks, Warren, for all the info on the early and small cinemas of downtown Jamaica.

robbiedupree on May 30, 2006 at 10:30 pm

Thanks PKoch for the info on The Bushwick. I had a feeling that it was a broadway movie house…robbie

PKoch on May 30, 2006 at 8:36 am

No, the scenes at the abandoned movie house were filmed at the RKO Bushwick. “Bway” on this site has ample proof and documentation.

RobertR on May 30, 2006 at 2:26 am

It was here at the broadway

robbiedupree on May 29, 2006 at 9:46 pm

Many years ago I saw a film starring Martin Sheen titled The Believers. Some scenes were filmed in an abandoned movie house. I wonder if anyone knows which one ? It looked like it was in East New York or Bushwick but I could never pinpoint it…Robbie

PKoch on May 25, 2006 at 8:46 am

Yes, I remember “The Wild Bunch” opening at the RKO Madison Theatre in Ridgewood, Queens ( # 4621 on this site) in June or July of 1969.

robbiedupree on May 24, 2006 at 4:14 pm

thanks ed= that sounds right. i appreciate your placing it for me. robbie