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Someone just told me out about this thread.When I lectured for the Richmond Hill Historical Society several years ago, I gave the audience a list of local theatres from the American Motion Picture Directory 1914/15 and the Film Daily Yearbook 1941.
The Directory lists a Library Square Theatre not Liberty. Don’t know how or when it was changed to the Liberty on the website.
According to Nancy Cataldi, of the Richmond Hill Historical Society,the area surrounding the library before they expanded hillside avenue was called Library Square. She even has a post card of this theatre.
In any case, Nancy believes the theatre was a few storefronts away from the Republican Club, 86-15 Lefferts Blvd. going towards Jamaica Avenue. The building/site could be the car repair shop or the hair salon (according to Nancy).
The one theatre on the 1914/15 list to make it to 1941 was the Garden. There is a Lefferts Theatre listed in 41.
The one theatre left off the website from the 1914 Directory was the Maple aka Cedar aka Richmond Hill. The building was still there a few years ago at 112-21 Jamaica Avenue.
The one theatre that did not make it to the 1914 list was the Owl which opened in 1910 at 112-16 Jamaica. It is sometimes mistaken for the Maple, Cedar. Richmond Hill mentioned above. I’ve been told that the building survives by several local people but another theatre historian says it is not the same building.
Hope that answers all your questions. Will get back to the Wilson later as well as the Sparta Hotel theatre which I believe you mentioned elsewhere.
In Trow’s Business Directory for 1911, Friedman & Petters are listed as operating two “Moving Picture Exhibitions”: 414 E. 149th and 580 E. 138th Streets. Once again Trow’s does not give theatre names.
Corse Payton’s story sounds very much like the near-by Bedford Avenue Theatre (aka Empire). Opened on October 5, 1891, it lost its auditorium when the Williamsburg Bridge was built. The front portion still survives at 101 So. 6th Street. Check it out, Broadway and Lost Memory, when you are in the neighborhood
According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Berger & Price “renovated the old building’s interior.” That was my source of information.
Payton’s opened briefly as the Grand Opera House became the Lee Avenue Academy of Music and for a few months, in 1895, the “Phoebus Theatre”. Many famous actors of the period appeared there. However, also according to the Eagle, “when the Amphion theatre opened,the Lee Avenue Academy was turned into a stock theatre”.
It was taken over by Corse Payton who acted in nearly all his plays along with his wife Etta Reed.
An article in The Chat Newspaper, Dec. 26,1914, states the Payton’s Lee Avenue theatre “has been completely renovated” and “is in excellent condition”. It will “make movie picture seeing a pleasure, entertainment galore, and presented in an atmosphere of refinement.” It is now a movie house under the management of a man listed only as “Kemble” in the newspaper.
An article “Payton’s Theatre is being Razed” appears in the Brooklyn Eagle on June 4, 1918. However not for a subway. The article states “there will be constructed a three-story building”, “two stories and a moving picture theatre on the ground floor”. Perhaps this was changed.
No longer posting. Reluctant to get involved. Finally decided to do so. The Wilson opened circa 1919 as the Roebling. You will find it listed under that time until 1931, after which it became the Wilson (closing around 1939). Th theatre is also listed as closed briefly in 1930. Seating is usually given as 966 but sometimes 1,000.
At 31 Lee Ave. was Rev. J. Hyatt’s church which became the Grand Opera House in 1881 (not to be confused with the theatre in downtown Brooklyn). It was also known briefly as the Lee Avenue Academy of Music and the Phoebus. From 1900-1914 it was Corse Payton’s. The seating capacity usually given as 2,000.
The ImaginAsian, 239 E. 59th Street, (between 2nd & 3rd Ave.)
While there is nothing that grabs me for May, I usually attend the Thursday night film series (called “Fan Favorites”) for the simple reason—its free:
At least I haven’t paid for a ticket yet.
I never thought of it as an issue. Also it is not a question of “the link that I am supposed to use”. It was a suggestion to credit the website. In any case, the Starr, location and date, appear at the bottom of the page. The “Theatre Enthusiast” page usually features a photo of a closed theatre which more-or-less fits the subject of the article. No where is it suggested that the page is about the Starr and the theatre is used merely as an illustration (and if I know the webmaster, it will be most likely be changed in a month or so). Actually most of the photos, but not all on Bijou, are part of the collection of the webmaster gathered from a variety of sources over the years. I think on his other websites, he makes note of that. Not sure about Bijou.
In 1912, Trow’s list a theatre on this site belonging to Samuel Goodman (in keeping with an all to common practice of the period the theatre is listed only by the owner’s name). However in the 1914 Motion Picture Directory it appears as the Variety. In the late 1910s it becomes the Progress Theatre (seating 600). Under that name it is listed in the FDYBs. However to confuse matters the FDYB in some editions list 110 Graham and in other editions the correct 118. It became the Lindy in the early 1930s. It is still listed in the 1957 FDYB at 118 Graham.
Nice ad for the Acme.But may I make a suggestion (not a criticism). Why isolate the Acme ads from the actual website. There might be other images on the site of interest to those who post on Cinema Treasures. The ads for the Acme are in this issue of “Theatre Scrapbook”. Not the best issue of this ezine. However there are ads for the Glenwood and Greenpoint theatres plus some great photographs.Also I think it might be a good idea to give credit to the person who created the site by linking directly to it. The short url for Theatre Scrapbook is:
Nice photo but may I make a suggestion (not a criticism). Why isolate the photo from the actual website. There might be other images on the site of interest to those who post on Cinema Treasures. The 16th Street photo is from “Bijou Dream” which also has photos of the Plaza, Carlton and the Variety theatres. Also I think it might be a good idea to give credit to the person who created the site by linking directly to it. The short url for the Bijou Dream is:
Nice photo but may I make a suggestion (not a criticism). Why isolate the photo from the actual website. There might be other images on the site of interest to those who post on Cinema Treasures. The Starr photo is from the Bijou which also has a photo of the Empire on Ralph. Also I think it might be a good idea to give credit to the person who created the site by linking directly to it. The short url for the Bijou is:
In the Weekly Chat, October 11th, 1929, there is an ad for the “Fox Alba”—
Excerpts from the ad:
“Celebrating Fox Jubilee"
"New Palace of Amusement in Williamsburgh Added to the vast Fox chain of Theatres"
"Presenting the pick of talking pictures"
"Equipped with Famous Western Electric Sound Apparatus”.
Showing Oct. 14th-15th is “The Green Murder Case” with William Powell
“Continious performance 1 to 11pm”.
The film you could be thinking of is the Bells of Rosarita starring Roy Rodgers with cameo appearances by all the Republic Studios cowboy stars minus John Wayne. One of my favorite “B” westerns.
The theatre opened in the summer of 1914 as the Decatur Park airdome with “temporary entrance on Decatur St.” On August 15th, 1914, it announces that “when the Decatur theatre opens the show will be held inside on nights when the weather does not permit open-air shows.”
Most theatres that advertised in the Chat usually did so on a regular basis with a display ad and/or pressed release. The Ridgewood was an exception, at least initially. After the opening announcement of December 23, 1916, the theatre does not advertise again until April 28th, 1917. A release states that “Wm. Fox’s thrilling photoplay at the Ridgewood”. It is the film “The Honor System”—“that wonderful master Metro drama of a thousand thrills, the greatest story of human interest ever told.” For some reason the vaudeville acts from the previous week are also listed: James Thornton (monologue & songs), Hazel Haslew (sketch), Arthur Georg (piano & vocals), Bell & Fredo (character singing, talking and musical number), Gehan & Spencer (dancers) and Commodore Tom (no specialty listed but “a great favorite with the women and children).
Finally on May 5th, 1917, there is an ad for William Fox’s Ridgewood Theatre” showing May 7th-9th Valeska Surratt “in a picturization of Rider Haggard’s She”. There are also “6 Big Vaudeville Acts.” “Afternoons, 3000 seat, 10c”. Evenings: 10c, 15c and 25c.
After this, ads and releases appear weekly in the Chat. It was not unusual for a theatre not to advertise in the local paper (relaying on other means)but so many of the theatres (large and small) did so on regular basis in the Chat.
Anyway there is a change on June 9th with a joint ad for William Fox’s Bedford & Ridgewood Theatres. Both showing the exact same films. June 11th-13th it is Mary Pickford in “A Romance of the Redwoods”. There is also “Superior Vaudeville.” Admission “Aft'ns 10-15c” “Evenings: 10c, 15c, 25c” “Continuous 1 to 11pm” (this changes to a two-a-day format during the summer.
As stated previously, the Bedford and the Ridgewood were built by the Levy Brothers. They are listed as the owners in 1919 and again in 1923. However in April 1924, the Bedford is purchased from the Levy Brothers by Frank A. Keeney. The theatre opening as Keeney’s Bedford in May of 24. Two years later he would sell to Loew’s. What was the Levy Brothers involvement with William Fox? On April 20th, Lostmemory mentioned a Julia Levy (any relation?)
In The Weekly Chat for Saturday, December 23rd, 1916 there is an ad for the Ridgewood Theatre: “Opens Saturday Night, Dec. 23rd”, “6 Big Acts Vaudeville And Superior Photo Plays”, “Complete Change of Progam Every Monday and Thursday”, “Continous Performances, 1 to 11pm.”, “Afternoons: 3,000 Seats 10c Evenings 10c, 15c, and 25c” (a small “c” actually used).
Fortunately, since this is the Chat, there is an accompanying article.
“Ridgewood, which was a farming section but a few years ago, has rapidly grown to a city in itself is evidenced from the fact that today it will see opened a theatre as large as any Brooklyn playhouse and far more beautiful."
The theatre "has a seating capacity of 3,000 and involves an expenditure of $350,000”.
It was bult by “the well known Levy Brothers, who also constructed the Bedford and Fifth Avenue theatres."
"The front is made up of glazed terra cotta and a spacious lobby is provided."
"The interior is decorated in marble and red silk moire tapestry."
"On the entrance to the mezzanine arcade there is a large promenade and on both the orchestra and mezzanine floors are to be found lounging rooms for both ladies and men."
”…so designed so that is it clear of all poles and the elevation of the seats is such that it permits a full view of the stage even to the last row. There are roomy lodges on the balcony and two tiers of boxes.“
"The new theatre is readily accessible to all trolley lines.”
No William Fox. This will be explained in part two.
The following is an excerpt from an article (actually a press release) in the Weekly Chat for January 19th, 1918. As it turns out, the Ridgewood wasn’t always advertised as being in Brooklyn:
“William Fox has just completed the installing of his new $25,000 M. P. Moller organ and it will be in operation at the Ridgewood Theatre commencing Monday, January 21st. This organ will be a treat to all patrons of Queens handsomest playhouse.”
The program for the week:
Monday through Wednesday: Mary Garden in “Thais” and the 10th episode of “Who is Number One?”
“Big Novelty for Monday night, January 21st a war song contest between writers of war songs during the days of 1776, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the World Conflict.”
Thursday-Sunday it is Geraldine Farrar in “The Devil Stone”. Also Fatty Arbuckle “in two reels entitled Out West” and the Hearst Pathe News “with the latest news from the front”.
On Friday night, “big novelty dance contest”
In the Weekly Chat, for September 6, 1929, there is a joint ad for the Fox Glenwood and the Fox Parthenon. Both theatres showing the exact same films—Wednesday-Saturday it is Lon Chaney in “Thunder”. Across the bottom of the ad: “Buy Fox Thrift Books and Save Money”.
When the Meserole opened in 1920, there were already several other theatres operating along Manhattan Ave.:
New Liberty (later named the Clinton) 152-154 Manhattan
Metropolitan 168 Manhattan
Garden listed here
Greenpoint 823-825 Manhattan
American (later named the Chopin) 910 Manhattan
Manhattan Theatre (later named Midway) 1059 Manhattan
The Garden would have been the oldest—at least there was a theatre on that site since circa 1906. Not listed above are several early movie houses that opened and closed before 1920. The Garden outlasted these.
There may be another possibility. The Levy Brothers were builders involved in real estate not theatre operators as such. In the Eagle, on the opening of the Fifth Avenue Theatre, (Mach 26th, 1911) no mention is made of the brothers. However it is clear from later articles that the Levys not only built the theatre but owned it until selling the space in 1923 (no matter who actually ran the theatre during that time period).
Upon completing the Boro Park, they immediately leased it to B.F. Keith’s. I know the article says “sold” but this seems doubtful since two years later the Levys are selling the building to Marcus Loew Theatrical Enterprises, Inc.
The Levy Brothers apparently were investors in various neighborhoods. According to the 1923 article they entered the “Boro Park field about ten years ago, and built many small homes and apartments in the section.”
The Levys also seem to build at some point upscale (better quality) theatres where these places were lacking (this was true of Park Slope in 1911 and also Boro Park in 1923). We need to hear from the Ridgewood people about that neighborhood.
So did the Levy Brothers build the Ridgewood in 1915, kept the ownership and leased the theatre to William Fox?
Had trouble with the computer on Sunday and tried to complete the above before the internet crashed again. In the rush made two small errors. Naturally the figure should be $750,000. Also in the sentence “the theatre was completed two years”— “ago” was left out. Sorry.
The Levy Brothers were not theatre operators has such but builders. Also from the June 7th, 1923 article:
“The theatre and business block was part of 100 lots acquired in 1919 by the Levy Brothers. The builders entered the Boro Park field about ten years ago, and built many small homes and apartments in the section.”
Also in the article “The theatre (Boro Park) is one of the many handsome buildings in this boro, devoted to moving pictures and vaudeville built by the Levy Brothers.”
Excerpts from a July 24th, 1919 Eagle article announcing “Big New Theatre for Borough Park”:
“Borough Park is to have a modern theatre building to be similar in design and size to the Bedford Theatre at Bedford and Bergen Street which has a seating capacity of 2,500. The theatre is to be built by Levy Brothers of 189 Montague Street, builders and proprietors of the Bedford, Ridgewood and Fifth Avenue Theatres.” (to avoid any confusion, this is the Fifth Avenue Theatre in Park Slope)
The new theatre “will occupy a plot 200 feet on 12th Avenue, 111 feet on New Utrecht Avenue and 146 feet on 52nd Street”. It was to be called the “Borough Park”.
The Garden was an early movie house opening circa 1906 at 742 Manhattan Avenue (sometimes given as 742-748). It is listed under the names Warren & Sweeney (owners) in Trows for 1912. I can’t find it in the 1914/15 Motion Picture Directory. In the Brooklyn Citizen, October 22nd, 1916, there is a large display ad for “Death Valley Dodge on Its Thilling Desert and Mountain Drives” with seven Brooklyn theatres listed as showing the film that week. The Garden is one of them. At the bottom of the ad it is stated “These Theatres are members of the Associated Motion Picture Exhibitors of Brooklyn”.
The Garden also appears in the theatre listings for the Standard Union newspaper, November 12, 1922. P. Rosenson is listed as manager.
It is listed in the 1926 FDYB (seating 600). It is also listed in 1929 which appears to be its final year of operation.
Many early movie houses closed in the 1910s and early 20s as larger more ornate theatres opened. Many of those that survived closed in 1929 with the upgrading to talkies and the depression. A few lucky ones lingered on in the neighborhood becoming affectionately known as “the itch” or “the dump”.
Excerpt from Brooklyn Eagle article March 28th, 1921:
“Brooklyn’s newest neighborhood theatre, the Boro Park, seating 2,500, just completed at the corner of 51st St. New Utrecht, has been bought by the B.F. Keith Circuit and will open with vaudeville and motion pictures on Thursday evening April 7th. it will hereafter be known as the B.F. Keith’s Boro Park Theatre. The policy will be two performances a day, presenting six acts of Keith Vaudeville from Keith’s Palace and Orpheum theatres and a first run photodrama”
Excerpt from the Brooklyn Eagle June 7th, 1923:
The Boro Park Theatre, one of the finest playhouses in the boro has been purchased by the Marcus Loew Theatrical Enterprises, Inc. from the Levy Brothers who built the theatre.
“The property, which covers over 13 ½ city lots and includes the theatre, an office building and nine stores was valued at $750,00"
"The theatre was completed two years and has been successful from opening night”
“It is the second theatre” (sold by the Levy Brothers) in the past few months. They sold the Fifth Avenue which they built about 12 years ago. They still retain the Ridgewood and the Bedford Theatres."
The Garden was an early movie house opening circa 1906 at 742 Manhattan Avenue (sometimes given as 742-748). It is listed under the names Warren & Sweeney (owners) in Trows for 1912. I can’t find it in the 1914/15 Motion Picture Directory. The Garden is listed in the 1926 FDYB (seating 600). It is also listed in 1929 which appears to be its final year of operation.
Operated by B. F. Keiths,The Bushwick was a top vaudeville house in 1910s. There is a large ad in The Weekly Chat for September 26, 1914 listing “the only theatres in Brooklyn owned and operated by the B.F. Keith Co.”. At the very bottom corner is the Madison, Broadway & Madison, “magnificent theatre devoted to photoplays, the best in films and high grade features.” Basically Keith’s had just opened a small movie house in back of their Bushwick.
In the The Weekly Chat for March 13th, 1915 there an article on the Madison with a photo. The most impressive thing about this two story theatre is the electric signage on front. The Bushwick can be seen looming in the background. The article gives the location of the Madison as “Broadway and Madison Street, adjoining the Bushwick."
In addition;” The beautiful little house is devoted to the highest class photoplays and the marvelous clearness and softness of the pictures shown proves the value and success of the gold fibre screen used in this house.“
B.F. Keith’s seems to have sold this theatre by the end of 1915. It still advertises but not as a B.F. Keith’s house. In the summer of 1916 it was given a complete renovation. The Madison is listed as closed in 1924