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With the closing of the Branden on Austin St. – which did show (mostly poor) first run movies – and the fact that the Atlas Mall Cinema, which has its own problems, is not really a direct competitor – the Cinemart is well positioned to be offered more first run releases. The fact that the owner finally invested the funds to upgrade to digital should further help things. Since most first run movies released in January and February are crap, this should not make the lack of such releases a big deal, at least for now. In fact, the Cinemart is probably doing better business in showing second run Oscar nominated films like “Birdman” than in screening anything newer.
Beyond the search for first run releases, the Cinemart should pursue the screening of interesting and provocative Indy movies. There is a market for these films that is not totally sated by the Kew Gardens Cinema. Also, I am sure many Forest Hills residents would be very interested in this market. Just a thought.
My wife and I braved the rainstorm yesterday and saw Birdman at the Cinemart. It was a very enjoyable experience – and the movie is VERY good. In fact, in addition to “American Sniper” and “Birdman”, at least two other of the leading films of 2014 are currently on display here. The theater was very well attended – nearly sold out – at our matinee performance. So, at least at the outset, things are looking very good here. I hope many of you will also visit the Cinimart during the next critical weeks.
I think one of the problems facing this theater was that – until very recently – the owner of the Cinemart did not upgrade his screens to accommodate the digital technology. Since the major distributors are now only going digital, this posed a real – and possibly fatal – problem. But, as noted in an article in today’s NYC DNA, the owner is making this investment. This should hopefully enable the Cinemart to stay competitive – as long as we locals continue to patronize it.
So, by all means, let’s try to pack the place over the next few weeks, and beyond!
Since Cezar de Valle’s Brooklyn Theatre Index, which is very comprehensive, does not list a movie theater at this location, I doubt if it did exist – though stranger things have happened. The closest noted cinematic site was situated accros the street, at 71 Graham. It was called the Graham Palace and existed during the 1910’s. I do not believe it has a page here – at least when I last checked.
By the way, the Google picture opens to the wrong side of the street. The old theater would have been situated near what is now the Onyx Bar – I knew it as the Cozy Corner – in what is now a parking lot.
Thanks Ken for the post. I used to live around the corner on Morgan Ave. and would never have suspected that anything cinematic ever existed here.
My grandfather, who worked at the Taylor Foundary which once existed accross the street, might have remembered it, though I doubt it.
Another year and – alas – still no picture. When one is eventually posted, I really wonder if it would look as I remember it. Memory can be a VERY tricky thing!
Happy New Year to all fellow posters on this wonderful site.
Bway, I was going to write a post about the funeral but I guess you beat me to it. The NY Times article describing the service did briefly note the church’s prior cinematic past. It also referenced a 850 seat capacity, which is a bit higher than the 756 number noted at the top of this page.
All in all, it’s good that the old theater can still serve a positive purpose, as it certainly did last Saturday.
Jeff, thanks so much for the two terrific photos which were probably taken just before the theater was divided. It certainly seemed to be in very good shape at the time, something that I was surprised to see.
Bway, I guess the one thing that was NOT a win was the loss of the day care center, a badly needed facility, at this location. Hopefully, an alternate site has been identified, though – in this rapidly gentrifying area – I have my doubts. In any event, the current use as a day care center noted at the top of the page needs to be changed.
The Wyckoff Heights blog, which in 2013 reported that the old Alhambra will be converted into housing, has now printed a rendering of what the new residence will look like. (You can access this site at wyckoffheights.org) It will now house 38 apartments – instead of the 24 previously reported; the rendering also seems to indicate that a third floor will be added to it – hence perhaps the increase in apartments. A 2015 opening date is also provided.
While the facade, which currently features almost none of the old movie house’s ornamentation, will be modernized, the current building will be retained. And the rounded tower at the corner will still be with us. By the way, the name of the new residence will be the Alhambra Theatre Apartments.
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.