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Passing the Spooner today, I noticed a “For Rent” sign in the window of Duane Reade.
From Daily News, Thursday, August 14, 2008 (Our Warren is quoted).
The future of a 79-year-old Richmond Hill movie theater has been cast into doubt after workers recently yanked letters that spelled its famous name – “RKO Keith’s” – off the historic marquee.
Preservationists wonder if more changes are planned at the Hillside Ave. mainstay – used as a bingo hall and flea market – now that the striking type has come down, apparently for good.
“It’s not going back up,” said a man who’s helping out at the bingo hall while its manager, Bob Wooldridge, is on vacation.
Wooldridge did not return calls seeking comment.
Buildings Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said the city hasn’t issued permits to remove the entire marquee or renovate the former theater, opened in 1929. But preservationists remain worried.
Orlando Lopes, New York City director of the Theatre Historical Society of America, said he was “shocked” by changes to “one of the best-looking marquees” on a former theater.
Adding to the concerns are reminders of a developer mutilating a glamorous RKO Keith’s in Flushing nearly two decades ago.
The city revoked Thomas Huang’s building permits in 1990 after crews let 10,000 gallons of heating oil leak into the moviehouse and bulldozed its landmarked grand staircase.
Warren Harris, a film star biographer and Queens theater buff, considered the moves at the Richmond Hill RKO Keith’s only a “minor loss” compared to the destruction in Flushing.
But it’s the fourth blow in just more than a year for efforts to save Richmond Hill history.
Next door to the RKO Keith’s, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor named Jahn’s closed in November after nearly eight decades in business.
Blocks away, at Hillside Ave. and Lefferts Blvd., the 1887 Simonson’s Funeral Home was demolished early last year after a failed landmarking bid.
Next to Simonson’s, a developer is gutting the 1908 Richmond Hill Republican Club, sparing only four exterior walls that are protected with landmark status.
“Everything historical down there is gone, almost,” said Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society.
PBS is airing “Jews in America” this month. About an hour and forty minutes into Part One, there are several shots of the eight-story building with separate marquees for the National and Roosevelt.
The Rialto marquee is currently seen in a commercial for Cablevision’s Optimum Triple Play service.
I was in Roseville this week. The marquee of the former Plaza reads Emanuel Christian Church in English and Spanish. The door was open so I walked-in. The building has been renovated. Stage and balcony in place with new theatre-type seats. The only person on site was an electrician who knew nothing about the church’s former use.
Today’s Daily News reports the theatre will become the Great Wall Supermarket featuring Chinese specialty foods. Store will open in the Spring.
The library on Arlington near Warwick, built in 1907 as part of Andrew Carnegie’s donation is still in operation.
Arlington is the neighborhood in northern Kearny bordering Bergen County.