Hellman Theatre

1365 Washington Avenue,
Albany, NY 12206

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Opened in 1960 on Washington Avenue, across the street from SUNY Albany. Originally designed with a large, very lavish lobby and lounge, and gold draperies throughout the auditorium. The two center sections had gold seats, while the two aisles flanking the walls had blue seats.

United Artists took over in the 70’s, and twinned it in the 80’s. It was the last of the Hellman Theatres in the Albany area to close—around 1989. It sat empty for a few years. A politician used the lobby for his campaign headquarters for a few months. The theatre was eventually demolished.

Contributed by Joe Masher

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Here is some more information about the theater and its eventual demolition:
http://theprimarycareinstitute.com/History.htm

nritota
nritota on October 27, 2009 at 4:41 pm

This theatre was twinned in the 70’s, not 80’s as reported above. I ran a house in the market and moved to Albany in early 1980. The house was already a twin at that time.

rivest266
rivest266 on February 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

April 27th grand opening ad is at View link

Tinker3cat
Tinker3cat on April 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

Saw the “The Longest Day” at the Hellman after required reading in English class at Albany College of Pharmacy of Cornelius Ryan’s book about the D-Day invasion.The black and white film version was a great experience to view . Both projection and sound was splendidly displayed. For me this was my best movie viewing experience to that time. The trailer that day was for “Lawrence of Arabia”. Breathtaking on both ! Too bad we lose these theaters. Ray, Charlotte,NC

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

Featured on the front cover of this trade journal in June, 1960: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

More description here: Boxoffice

Jasonlongtonjr
Jasonlongtonjr on March 23, 2013 at 5:59 am

I remember going to the Hellman Theatre in the 1970’s with my classmates from school #23 to see the movie Oliver twist. This is a fond memory of my childhood. I find it sad that places like this are being demolished.

curmudgeon
curmudgeon on October 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Hi Ridgewood Ken. Would this have been one of the last 3 strip Cinerama installations? Barely a couple of years prior to the 3 strip system becoming obsolete.

nritota
nritota on October 25, 2013 at 4:53 am

According the the Remembering Cinerama series posted on this site (http://cinematreasures.org/blog/2009/3/27/remembering-cinerama-part-24-albuquerque), Albuquerque was the last three projector installation in 1964.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm

The earliest reports about the Hellman Theatre indicate that the project was downsized before it was completed. The theater was originally planned with a balcony and was to be equipped with Todd-AO, according to this item from the November 6, 1958, issue of Motion Picture Daily:

“Plans Suburban Theatre for Albany, Phila.

“Albany will be one of two cities where Neil Hellman will build suburban theatres next year. Philadelphia is the other.

“He announced here that a 1,200-seat house, equipped with Todd-AO and escalators to the balcony, will be constructed in the spring on a five-acre site adjoining his Thruway Motel and opposite the State Campus. The State of New York has erected several large buildings there, and plans others.

“The location is within the city limits and only 10 minutes from Schenectady, by the State Thruway. Present plans are for the presentation of road show pictures, first-runs and art films. Leon Einhorn, theatre and motel architect, will design the house. Parking facilities will be provided for 500 cars.

“Cost is expected to be around $500,000; the house to be in readiness for operation by Labor Day.

“Hellman will also put up a 1,400-seat suburban theatre on a 6 ½-acre site in Philadelphia, where he now operates the Lincoln and Andalusia drive-ins. Cost of that project is estimated at $750,000. This includes parking for 500 cars.

“Ed Potash, who retired from Universal’s Philadelphia exchange last spring to become Hellman’s general manager, will supervise the two new suburbans.”

A later issue of the magazine said that the completion date of the project had been moved up:
“Move Up Date for ‘Suburban’ Theatre

“Special to THE DAILY

“ALBANY, N. Y., Nov. 13. – Neil Hellman has announced the moving up of the date for the completion of a proposed 1,200-seat $500,000 ‘suburban’ theatre on Upper Washington Avenue, within the city limits, from Labor Day to July 15.

“He said that construction work will begin within three weeks. Originally it was not to start until spring. Hellman stated that the job will be put up for bids in the near future.

“Parking facilities for 500 cars are one of the features. The house, which will also have a stage and dressing rooms, is to seat 1,000 on the main floor, and 200 in the balcony. The latter will be reached by escalators.”

As built, the Hellman Theatre had 140 fewer seats than originally announced, the balcony was not built, and Cinerama replaced the planned Todd-AO installation. Apparently it had neither stage nor dressing rooms, eihter. That the house actually opened in April, 1960, rather than July, 1959, and that a second architect (Schenker) was brought on to the project, must have been the result of these changes.

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