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A picture recently posted on the Eagle Theatre’s (in Bushwick) page features a sign saying “closed for the summer”. A commentator then plausibly speculated that the Eagle was closed because it lacked air conditioning. Whether this may have been true for the Eagle, the Winnie was also not air conditioned but, instead, stayed open during the summers with the help of two huge – and very loud – fans. They were positioned to the immediate left and right of the screen. While they probably did little more than circulate hot air and frequently drowned out the dialogue, they at least allowed the show to go on. At the prices charged by this “nabe' none of us complained.
I really hope someone will find sn old picture of the Winnie and post it here.
While I never recalled ceiling fans being used – though that would have made a good deal of sense – I definitely remember the two huge fans that were trotted out to cool us off at the Winthrop, in Greenpoint. They stood – and really stood – directly to the left and right of the screen. I think the same practice occurred at the old American – later the Chopin – Theatre.
I guess before we were spoiled by air conditioning, we put up with a lot of discomfort – especially at the prices charged by the old “nabes”.
Thanks again Ken for the vintage photo. And, while it did take a while for the second shoe to drop, it looks like the RIP designation can now be applied to the Eagle.
Finally, Chuck’s note about the “closed for Summer” sign is intriguing. Can anyone cite a similar situation where a non-airconditioned theater simply closed for the Summer? The non-airconditioned movie houses that I remember – like the Winthrop – just installed large fans when the temperatures rose. This sometimes made it difficult to follow all the dialogue, but it did allow the show to go on.
Thanks for this update. The Ponanaise was such a local landmark in its day and it will difficult to see life in Greenpoint without. But I guess goes on.
I just wanted to second Bway on the real beauty of the old photo. Was this, by any chance, taken as part of NYC’s project, in the late 1930’s, to take a picture of all of its buildings? Again, thanks to whomever for this great addition.
A local blog called Wyckoff Heights, which covers real estate transactions very thoroughly, is reporting that the old Alhambra will be converted into 24 units of housing. Given its location just off a recently restored Irving Square Park, this is not a surprising development. I hope alternate space will be identified for the day care center, though I doubt it.
While the 8/8/13 edition of the Times Newsweekly confirms that a reovation permit for the Ridgewood’s first floor and basement was submitted, it also indicates that the Landmarks Preservation Commission blocked implementation of this permit on 7/31/13 pending further review. So, keep tuned.
A few weeks ago I visited the area and found the church to be open, although no service was in progress. I decided to go in and was greeted by two attendants who invited me to view the old auditorium. It is in really good shape and clearly resembles its former use, with the altar area replacing the screen. In short, this represents a wonderful re-use of the old Rivoli.
According to a local blog called Wyckoff Heights, which covers these matters pretty closely, an internal renovation permit for the old theater was recently filed. So some “progress' here may soon occur. While the blog disclosed no details of the application, it is presumably on file at the Building Department and probably subject to inspection.
By the way, the emergence of a locally based group in support of the Ridgewood’s preservation is very good news indeed. Until recently, it seemwd as if the only persons supporting this were this bunch of non-resident movie enthusiasts who comment on this page. Locally based support provides a real boost to this effort.
I just read a message that Joe Vogel posted on the Vernon Theatre site last October that helps clarify the exact site of this theater. In an ad that memtions movies shown at both theaters, it provides a Court Square address for the Idle Hour. This is exactly where Ed Selero placed it in an earlier post and should, thus, resolve any uncertainty in this theater’s location.
Just paased by the site today. The new gym is now operational but they have pretty much wrecked the theater’s old front in the process of doing this. The Parthenon’s roof, however, is still untouched.
While the new set up is quite attractive – a big improvement to the depressing old bingo parlor – the fact that no attempt was made to restore the old facade is unfortunate. But this could have been a lot worse.
Well – we atill have the old pictures.
I know that Hamburg Ave. was changed to Wilson Ave. during WWI. My point was that the Index referred to the newer name before the change had occuured. In any event, thanks for responding to this post; it’s been a long time since anyone looked at it.
Let us just bask in the good news that occurred today and not, for once, be cynical. Hip, hip horay for the Kings and for the people of Brooklyn!
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, which now operates out of this old movie house, hit a home run in performing the Battle Hymn of the Republic at Monday’s Inauguration ceremony. Kudos to the choir, the congregation and the people of Brooklyn!
Thanks for the great pictures of this long gone theater.
steveb, since El Cid, athough released in late 1961, was probably presented in an exclusive midtown run for a number of weeks and then reached only an independent theater like the Dyckman many weeks later, the 1962 movie calendar noted above makes sense. The delayed presentation at the Dyckman of “A Touch of Mink” also probably took place well after its initial release date. Thus, when the place burned down, the El Cid run had probably already occurred.
The steeple – and in all probability the church itself – have been demolished. Like the Novelty, they were probably replaced by apartment houses. In the wake of the opening of the Wlliamsburg Bridge in 1903, Willliamsburg’s population skyrocketed. This produced a critical need for additional housing units. To meet this need, many large apartment houses were constructed in this vicinity during the first three decades of the past century.
I will, however, further check out this item the next time I visit the area.
As was noted in a previous comment, the only thing remaining from the old movie house is the wall along Russel Street – and even that cannot be said for certain. Except for that, supermarket is an entirely new building.
As one who grew up seeing the remaining theaters of Greenpoint and Williamsburg close until none remained, the opening of this multi-plex is wonderful news. The fact that it will be managed by the same family that runs the terrific Kew Gardens Cinema means that it should be a quality operation. North Brooklyn deserves no less. Good luck.
Well another year has passed as I now start my sixth season as a member of this site.
I am still hoping that someone will come up with a picture of this old movie house. Perhaps this will occur this year – and hopefully more people will add comments to this page – and the other pages of the old north Brooklyn movie theaters in 2013. I noted a sharp decline of such comments in 2012, but perhaps this will change.
Hello Lugos, while I cannot help you on this, since I was only one yeat old at the time, your comments raised a few questions that I hope you can address. First, given the fact that this was, at least in part, a “magic show”, was Lugosi actually some sort of a magician as well as an actor or was the “magic” aspect just part of the show? Also, were these 1951 performances made in conjunction with the release of one of his recent movies or were they free standing events – or did they accompany the showing of another movie in which Lugosi did not appear? I know that by 1951, live stage presentations at most movie houses were pretty much limited to celebrity appearances made to boost attendance for the celebrity’s most recently released film, which was being presented on the same date. Did the Lugosi appearances fall into this category or were they somewhat different?
And best of luck on your research.
The fact that the Ridgewood theaters were listed in the Brooklyn movie directory does not mean that they were in Brooklyn. This was a situation where the old Brooklyn zip code lines trumped the actual borderlines. With regard to the old Ridgewood, the movie clocks still did not get it right even after the zip code lines were changed to reflect the borough borders.
With all due respect jgraif, the Madison has always been situated in Queens. The current Brooklyn-Queens boundary has been situated since 1925, east of Gates Ave., on Wyckoff Ave. (Cypress Avenue ceases to be the boundary at Menahan Street.) Prior to that time, the boundary veered a little closer to the Madison but did not not place the theater in Brooklyn. It is the Parthenon that changed boroughs as a result of the border change. Also, while the old zip code arrangement, which did include portions of two zip codes in both boroughs, certainly was confusing, this changed in the early 1980’s when the zones were redrawn along the borough lines ……. On other matters, I would still love to hear your comments about the two saloons on Wyckoff Avenue. Talk soon.
I just noticed the wonderful vintage picture of this old theater that was recently posted at the top of the page. What a terrific addition – and thanks to whoever made this contribution.
Hello jgraif and thanks for your fond memories about the old Madison …….. When I worked in the area during the 1970’s, there were two bars on Wyckoff between Gates and Palmetto – one at the Gates corner and one mid-block. Which was the one that your father and uncle operated? I guess by the early 90’s both had been converted into something else …… By the way, the old Parthenon, which served as a Bingo parlor after its bowling alley days had ended, is now being converted into a 24 hour health facility ….. Hope to hear from you soon.
I think TT’s point that visitors to this site can easily overlook the picture sections and just go straight to the comment section is well taken and that it makes sense to remind us of this resourse. (I know that I was quite slow in appreciating the value of the photo section when CT was upgraded.) So let’s both encourage the posting of new pictures as well as good comments in going forward.