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Well, I was able to visit this site yesterday after work and have only good things to report. While there is scaffolding around the building, its purpose is to support the excellent façade restoration that is taking place – NOT to aide and abet a demolition! This work is proceeding nicely and also involves the installation of windows on what once were metal covered open holes. A good looking entrance is also being constructed on the Irving Ave. side of the building. All in all, the building should be ready for occupancy pretty soon. While it is still unclear what uses will be established here, they will have a very nice home to occupy.
The quality of the façade work needs to be recognized since it really captures the subtle changes in the brick colors along the wall as it restores the ornamentations that were created for the old theater.
I can’t wait to see it open.
That probably is the best explanation – but somebody still needs to check this out directly.
But what exactly is happening at the old Imperial site. Given the amount of real loving care provided to restore it, it makes absolutely no sense to now demolish the place. A real on-site visit is certainly needed now.
While I am somewhat flying blind on this, since my computer cannot access the Facebook photo, I would guess that the Willoughby Theater, situated at 260 Knickerbocker – or a few blocks west of DeKalb- would best fit the bill. The site is currently owned by a church, and they have sold it to a developer who will construct a much larger building here but leave the first floor for religious functions. I believe that the Brownstoner blog has discussed this item in prior posts.
Hopefully, this will help sort this out.
One other thing – I just viewed the Google satellite picture of this site and it clearly confirms that the building is being renovated – not demolished.
Bway, robboehm and Joe – These comments do not make sense – at least in terms of the imminent demolition of the old Imperial. As I previously noted, this former theater has been undergoing an extensive – and quite impressive – renovation and should be re-opening as retail space pretty soon. Unless something VERY radical has recently occurred here, the fact that the building will soon be demolished is just not credible. This really requires an on-site visit.
Yes, after it closed as a theater sometime in the 1940’s, this building did host a Robert Hall’s for a number of years.
Let’s see what happens here.
My wife and I enjoyed seeing “Get Out” yesterday at the Cinemart. The reclining seats have now been installed in all five theaters. While this has reduced the capacity significantly, it appears to be very popular with the public, since most seats were filled.
In addition to “Get Out”, three of the five screens were showing “Beauty and the Beast on its opening weekend. So it seems the Cinemart has been successful in landing more than a few first run movies.
All in all, this was a most encouraging visit to this real survivor of a movie house.
Since this is a large and prosperous church – and they certainly need the space to serve their parish – I would not expect them to move anytime soon – unless, of course, they want to make a fast bundle.
Visiting Bushwick on President’s Day, I was able to pass by the old theater. The renovation is just about complete and it looks like people should be moving in pretty soon. While lighter colors than the original cover the façade and – unfortunately – the roof over the tower at the Halsey/Knickerbocker corner has apparently not been restored – overall they did a very nice job of restoration. This new residence will add a lot of class and elegance to this rapidly gentrifying part of Bushwick.
Since I was off for President’s Day, I took a short trip through Bushwick and visited the old theater. The renovation is proceeding very well and they have done, with one exception, a very good job of restoring the façade – they have even taken those unsightly metal slabs off the window. (The exception concerns some modern brickwork that was installed at the top of the building’s Irving Ave. side; perhaps the original material was just too weak; but this is a minor wrinkle to what otherwise is a most admirable development.)
When I asked one of the workmen what the building is being renovated for, he vaguely answered “stores”. (I don’t think he knew anything more definite.)
While the conversion of the old building into anything theatrical or cinematic remains a long shot, I was encouraged by the name of the development company that was provided on the placard that provided some of the details of the work – the name is “Imperial”.
Since the renovation should be completed soon, we should get a better idea of what actually will take place here in the very near future.
In passing through Bushwick yesterday, I noticed that the old theater is – or will soon be – undergoing renovation. The signs placed outside the building indicate that it will be re-modeled for retail purposes. When I called the firm whose number was listed on the sign, they verified this fact but could not identify any specific businesses that would be located here. It appears that the landlord will rent the space out to interested businesses as soon as the place is suitable for its new occupancy. Since this building housed a Robert Hall’s clothing store for a number of years after it ceased being a movie house, this type of development makes some sense – though I would certainly prefer a return to a more theatrical use. (Given the dramatic changes that have recently occurred in Bushwick, the opening of a new theater would certainly fill a need.) Anyhow, this is still a most welcome development in contrast to the site’s most recent use as a warehouse – as is certainly preferable to its demolition. Let’s see what happens.
Chris, thanks – I guess – for leading me to the Google map of this site. It is awfully depressing. Something that really could have added to the beauty of this area has wantonly been destroyed.
On the other hand, it was great hearing from you and I hope you are doing well.
As Mel Allen would say, “going, going, gone”. As of today, absolutely nothing remains of the old theater; it is now little more than an empty lot – that will soon be replaced by yet another high rise building. While I had hoped that some remnant of the theater could re-emerge during the demolition, this was not to be. So, adieu, City Hall Theatre!
While the Polanaise Terrace did close in 2013, it was never demolished and has remained vacant since that time. Given Greenpoint’s very hot real estate market, that is very surprising. Anyhow, an article in today’s DNA NY states that something called the Brooklyn Night Bazaar will call the old building home next September. So, the old place is still there – for the time being.
Whether this address ever or not once hosted a movie theater, it did not involve this building.
I think it was the one with Hercules – the guy who played Hercules appeared with them. A few years ago, someone noted the date of these appearances at a number of theaters. If you search this thread, you may find this reference.
This will provide an update on the demise of this building. As of today, the buildings situated between the old theater and Beekman Street to the north have been totally leveled. The demolition of the old City Hall Theatre is just beginning. Perhaps some elements of this old theater will briefly be viewable – or not – as it is razed.In any event, this will be the last time to view whatever remains of this theater.
I am sorry to say that, as I write this, the building that once housed this movie theater is in the process of being demolished. This is part of a big project that affects a number of buildings situated on the east side of Park Row, just south of Beekman Street. I am sure that yet another skyscraper will soon replace this row of five or so story buildings.
During the next few weeks, portions of the theater’s old interior may be briefly viewed as the building is demolished. So, if you have a camera, this may be the time to visit this site.
I am sure this was a very small makeshift theater that was not designed in any notable style. Most of the theaters like it closed before the 1920’s.
If the buildings depicted on the Google map include the old theater’s address, then the building was probably not demolished but just re-used for another purpose. All of these wood frame houses were built before the 1910’s. In all probability, this was a tiny Nickelodium type theater that had a pretty brief existence and then closed up shop.
This is unbelievable! Who would have thought that anything like this would ever open in this once god forsaken area.
Thanks so much for posting the three photos from 1921. They are certainly worth a look – and the Parthenon was still in Brooklyn!
What a terrific photo. Thanks for posting it.
The sheer stupidity of this continues.
Thanks robboehm for the photo; this is the same picture that was posted some time ago but then suddenly vanished. Hopefully, it will be featured at the top of this treater’s main page.