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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.
Very interesting news Jeff. I guess the now “old” catering places are being supplanted by more trendy establishments. The same has apparently occurred with the Polonaise Terrace in Greenpoint, which also replaced a location previously occupied by a movie theater.
By the way, the map at the top of this page sites the Drake at a location far to the south where it actually was. The correct location is situated a few blocks north of St. Johns Cemetary while the map locates it at the cemetary’s south point, at Cooper Avenue. This is wrong and schould be corrected.
Ed, this was all part of the Lindsay-Bushwick Urban Renewal Project, which transformed huge portions of this community from the 1960’s through the early 1970’s. The portion of the project that affected the Sun’s site occurred toward the beginning of that period.
Welcome back Lost Memory!!
Thanks for the wonderful picture. I just noticed it.
Just a little update. The vacant drug store, alas, was never incorporated into the Kew Gardens. A new store now occupies that site.
Well another new year unfolds as does the start of my 7th year as a member of this page. Hope we have a lot to talk about this year and that more people join the discussion. And – hopefully someone will post a vintage picture of the Winnie in 2014. Happy New Year.