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Thanks a lot for posting this. It’s just too bad that we do not have a picture of what probably was a pretty impressive theater.
Thanks so much for your response. I hope your research is yielding fruit.
First, DUMBO is NOT the place where elephants go to die! Instead, it is an area situated along Brooklyn’s waterfront, roughly between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges – hence DUMBO’s M and B. As has occurred in many other situations, the name was basically coined by the local real estate developers. Originally an artist loft community, DUMBO has become extremely gentrafied during the past decade.
Since it is only situated a short walk from the cinema’s present site, the new location should not inconvenience its current patrons – and will probably attract new moviegoers in its future community.
According to a number of newspaper and blog reports, the Brooklyn Heights Cinema will vacate this site soon – perhaps by the end of the month. The good news, however, is that the owner will relocate the theater to a site in nearby DUMBO. Since he will retain the current name, I guess we will call it “The Brooklyn Heights Cinema Now in DUMBO”!
According to the Brownstoner blog, the long delayed construction on this site resumed some time ago and is now rapidly approaching its conclusion. This will be a seven story residence hosting 23 apartments in this VERY hot part of Greenpoint. The blog also noted that the initial building permit dated al the way back to 2003.
The wonderful Montrose Morris of the Brownstoner has a fine article that appears in today’s edition. It is worth checking out.
I just noticed that the wonderful old picture of this theater has somehow disappeared from the photo section. What gives??
Thanks Metropolite for the update. The reference to first floor usage for an entertainment/cultural venue is interesting. Hopefully, it might represent a concession to those local parties who pushed for such a use in a portion of the old theater. This would certainly be preferable to the creation of still another drug store on the ground floor.
I went by the place today and can confirm that the Brandon is no more. I think the last movie I saw there was “42”. Since everyone in the area just “knew” that the place was about to close, this was hardly a surprise. Still, it is most unfortunate that only one theater – the Midway – remains in the Continental/Austin area. A real bummer.
Thanks LM for providing the 1940 picture of the Starr. (At least that was when the “Mortal Storm” came out.)
As I view this photo, it seems as if a not insignificant portion of the old Starr’s upper floor was demolished when the building was converted to its current use. This probably involved the balcony, which helped provide nearly 1,000 seats to this rather small space.
Just to a look at the Brooklyn Theatre Index and came up with a couple of items. First, while Eric Holmgren did perform architectural work in both 1919 and 1932, an architect named F. C. Dexheimer also did work there in 1915, or about two years after the theater opened.
Second, the Index cites a 1951 – not a 1953 – closing date. It seems as if the place was idle between that date and the 1953 filing of the building permit to convert in into the dance and catering hall.
Thanks for the picture LM. Do you have any indication as to when it was taken? Unfortunately, the name of the movie being shown cannot be made out.
I guess the name “functional” comes to mind when viewing the photo. This was a VERY plain building. The church people, in fact, did a rather fine job in improving the facade when they took over the place.
While the reason for the Whitney’s early demise – competition from the Brooklyn theaters – that LM’s article noted and that I expanded upon in my previous comment is an attractive and certainly a reasonable one, there is an alternate possibility. As noted in a much earlier comment, the imminent construction of the Oasis Theatre in the immediate vicinity – which I believe occurred in 1927 -could have easily caused the Whitney’s owners to bow out at that time. Besides being a spanking new building, the Oasis would clearly have been better positioned to adapt to the sound era.
Going back to the first reason, my earlier comment neglected to describe the allure that the (Brooklyn) Broadway theater district would have had to the new residents of Ridgewood. This was, after all, where many of them lived and enjoyed life before making the move into Queens.
LM, thanks so much for the reprint of a very interesting article. It confirmed a point I have made in other contexts about Ridgewood being very much a Brooklyn generated community that had, at least in those days, far more in common with its neighbor to the west than to much of its own borough. In this sense, the significance of the old Myrtle Ave. El in providing a link to the old community cannot be overstated. One can easily envision huge numbers of old Ridgewoodites taking the El to visit Fulton Street’s thriving entertainment and commercial district in Downtown Brooklyn. Even when I worked in Bushwick during the 1970’s and the El no longer extended beyond Broadway, people in Ridgewood would regret the lack of this very efficient link to downtown Brooklyn.
Interestingly enough, it was this Brooklyn mindset – as well as the clear logistical benefits – that encouraged the people of Ridgewood and Gelndale a little over one hundred years ago to have their communities placed within the Brooklyn postal zones. This, in turn, caused many of Ridgewood’s old movie houses to be featured in the Brooklyn section of the Movie Clocks for many years to come. The old Ridgewood Theatre was, in fact, still considered to be a “Brooklyn” theater in the newspapers up until its unfortunate demise.
Since the movie “Trapped by Television” was released in 1936, this was a REAL sneak preview. I guess TV was a much discussed “thing of the future” at that time.
Bway, I should have put the word renovations in “quotes” when speaking of the Ridgewood – if only to indicate a sense of irony. I greatly fear that the results will not be good.
Since the old Willoughby served as a dance hall for at least a while before becoming a church – you could say it took the path from the profane to the pious – I suspect that not much of the old place is left. Never having been there, however, I cannot say this for sure.
Great hearing from you.
One more point that I forgot to make: It appears that the new building’s architect is the same person who will perform the renovations at the old Ridgewood Theatre.
Thanks so much for the wonderful 1914 pictures of both the old Whitney and the street level rail line. I knew that what is now the M train did exist for a number of years as a grade level line, before the el was extended beyond Wyckoff Ave., but I have never seen an actual picture of it. So thanks again.
The Wyckoff Heights blog recently reported that a building permit has been submitted to construct a 10 story building on the old Willoughby’s site. It would continue a religious use on the first floor, with 53 residential units situated above that. My guess is that the current building will be demolished and then completely replaced by the new structure – though it is possible that a part of the old movie house might remain. (I hope the church is making out on this deal.)
The size of the building’s lot will enable a building of this size to be constructed in this relatively low density community.
The Austin’s “Teenage Massage Parlor” fare spoke to a time when they presented a very different kind of “Indie” fare. Those were – NOT – the good old days!
Luis and LM, thanks so much for this very encouraging article.
It appears that the new management of the Kings is taking a prudent and level headed approach as to how they will market the theater once it re-opens. Given the disappointing experience that befell the Bronx Paradise, this is a very important consideration that will hopefully work out for the better in Brooklyn.
Finally, although it is not mentioned in the article, I hope that the restored Kings will possess the facilities to present an ocasional movie ot two. It would really be great to experience viewing a classic film in this envoronment. Such special events would also probably draw capacity crowds.
I visited the site over the past weekend. It looked dreadful. It appears that they have demolished most of the site and only the front area – which has already been separated from the rest of the mostly demolished building and may soon experience a similar fate – remains for the present.
This development, in short. represents the worst possible alternative that the old Rainbow could have experienced.
Sorry to be the messenger on this.
According to Wikipedia, “Baby Mine” the film being shown here, was released in 1928. So this is probably how things looked at that time. Unfortunately, Baby Mine is currently listed as a Lost Film.
Thanks so much for the picture LM. Given that this entire community has long disappeared, it is always fascinating to see how things used to be.
I guess the photo was shot at the northeast intersection of Leonard Street and Broadway. It seems that the photographer just missed catching a piece of the Broadway El within the photo’s frame.
Great photo LM. I guess this picture was taken in the very early 1970’s at the latest since the place had been transformed into the supermarket by the time I got to know the area a few years later.
By the way, this photo – and not the current one – should be the one displayed at the top of the page.