Savoy Theatre

710 Mattison Avenue,
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

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RHanna on September 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I was an actor/apprentice in the 1965-66 Asbury Playhouse at the Savoy Theater. I played Marvin in Enter Laughing, Bollinger in Inherit the Wind, a Shark in West Side Story, chorus in Brigadoon. I’d be interested in any production photos that might exist. Contact me at .

SYFYGUY on January 5, 2015 at 12:16 am

No one mentioned the 1965-66 winter stock co. that operated it as the Asbury Playhouse. I performed my first role as an actor on that stage as Rumpelstiltskin. And the rest is history. (lol). Actually, I am a SAG actor now. Who knew?

AlbertCoates on August 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I remember “The Colossus of New York” played here in the 1950’s. Fun movie for a little boy. In the 1970’s they showed X rated movies. It closed at the end of December 1976. I am posting a 1914 photo of the theater with its “blade”.

Gamble on March 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Ran into the owner today. He said its ‘sold’ and there are no seats, but said the stage was there tho. I could see into the lobby, or what was left of it and it looks like theyre doing work in there.

LuisV on January 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I found a photo in the book Asbury Park’s Glory Days that shows that the Savoy did not ever have a marquee but it DID have a tall blade over the entrance that spelled out Savoy. At a minimum, a marquee or a blade needs to be installed to give this theater, which is otherwise hidden from the street, some presence.

LuisV on December 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

This is my first visit to Asbury since I posted in early October that the theater had been sold to Sackman and that a restoration was planned. Mattison is one block off of the main drag of Cookman and is much quieter but a restored theater will help change that. The Office building which envelopes the theater is fairly large and handsome. However, the first thing to go should be the storefront mosque and the adjacent Bail Bonds office. This is not the image you want to represent. The Marque, which was removed in the 80’s, should be restored to define the entrance of this theater. Peering through the “lobby” entrance it appears that some work has started, but the lobby appears to be very disappointing. It is really small and doesn’t appear to have ANY character at all. There is a small staircase off that lobby that I assume would go up to the balcony. The new owners say that they expect to have a 1,000 seat theater but the capacity at the time of closing was in the 800’s. A prior plan to renovate envisioned a comfortable theater of 600. No offense, but New Jersey is not one of the slim states and larger seats will be required. I also have to assume that nothing is left of the original ornamentation as none ever been referenced in any article that I’ve seen so the “state of the art” performing arts space will likely just be a “modern” space with little reference to the past.

LuisV on October 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

Happy to announce that it looks like this theater will indeed be renovated. Maddeningly, there is no mention in the article as to the current state of the theater, how much is left, how ornate it was/still is, or the ultimate quality of the restoration. However, it is welcome news nonetheless. The article follows from the Asbury Park Press:

ASBURY PARK — The century-old Savoy Theatre is going to be saved and renovated into a state-of-the art live performance theater.

Trip Brooks, the representative of Sackman Enterprises who oversees many of that company’s historic renovations of Asbury Park buildings, said Friday that Sackman went under contract in June to buy the five-story Kinmonth Building at 710 Mattison Ave. with a year’s deadline.

Besides office space, the building, built in 1911, housed the Savoy vaudeville theater. In the 1930s, movies started being shown and for many years the Savoy was part of the Walter Reade group of movie theaters in Asbury Park. Eventually, the theater went dark, as did most of the downtown until the past decade’s revitalization.

“Our plans are to take it through the approval process with the city,” Brooks said on Friday. “Our idea is to restore the old office section with offices related to theaters. We will have a production company and a Savoy Club.”

The Kinmonth Building, when purchased, will be added to Sackman Enterprises’ downtown buildings that company president Carter Sackman has bought and completed historic renovations. That list includes the Steinbach Building, the Post Building, the old Asbury Park Press Building and most recently, the 550 Cookman Building, which is on track to be completed and open with retail, apartments and four cinemas that will seat a total of 650 and include the renovation of the historic adjacent Seacoast Trust Building.

The Savoy will be a 1,000-seat theater, Brooks said, and is important in the Sackman mix for the downtown, which has been primarily residential and retail.

The city’s Arts Coalition of Asbury Park worked hard in 2005 to buy the Kinmonth Building from owner Michael Fornino but could not come up with the $250,000 required as a down payment to hold it. The price tag at that time was $5.1 million.

Brooks declined to say how much they have contracted to pay Fornino. The Neptune resident and longtime Asbury Park businessman purchased the building with partner Jerold Wagenheim in 1980.

Fornino could not be reached for comment Friday.

“I think it’s a very exciting project,” Mayor Ed Johnson said. “The Savoy is really one of the last of the historic theaters at the Jersey Shore. Asbury Park was always known for its grand theaters, which were torn down one by one.”

“To (Tripp and Carter’s) their credit, they have been methodically taking those steps and they’re taking them in one of the worst economic environments since the Depression,” said City Manager Terence Reidy said.“People come and look at the city and there’s this real legitimate sense of momentum and commitment that feeds on itself.”

Sackman Enterprises must build a new parking deck downtown as its projects are completed and the city fills up with people and cars.

“The renovation of the 550 Cookman Building has pushed the demand for the new parking, and the Savoy will push it right over the top,” Reidy said.

roppd on September 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Asbury Park Press article ‘Savoy Theatre set to be renovated’

JayNewcomb on June 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Last Thursdays Tri City Newspaper reports that Carter Sackman a redeveloper has entered into a contract to buy the Kinmouth Office Building and the Savoy Theater and wants to restore the theater for use. That’s good news.

spectrum on December 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Still standing in Google photos – looks like there’s a long narrow entrance going from the auditorium all the way down to Cookson Avenue to the south – looks like a theatre entrance.

teecee on November 12, 2010 at 10:56 am

View link

There is a reference to the potential reopening of the Savoy in this article.

sandpiper on November 19, 2008 at 3:53 pm

The building still stands. There’s a collection agency in the lobby and, I think, a storefront church just to the left of that.

It would be great if ArtsCAP could get a hold of it. AP is no longer dead, but a fully functioning theater could bring a much needed spark to the other businesses around there, especially the restaurants.

LuisV on September 14, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I’m still confused as to whether this theater is still standing or not. It looks like almost every abandoned building in Asbury Park on the East Side of the tracks has now been torn down. There are lots and lots of empty lots! I guess it’s better than eyesores.

There are also lots of new restaurants, stores and other retail establishemts. The landscaping throughout the city is very well done. There are quite a few new condominium developments in various stages of completion. I have to say, there finally appears to be some progress being made in this sad town.

Unfortunately, so much of its past has been destroyed that it will have very little of the charm that even Ocean Grove has next door.

Hyford on April 23, 2008 at 10:26 pm

As to Ruthck stating that “Asbury in general is just dead.” I believe he hasn’t been there in many a moon. They have spent more than 15 million dollars thus far in restoring themselves! New buildings, new homes and new streets! It is ‘the’ place as The New York Times has reported twice in the past year.

Hyford on April 23, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Walter Rosenberg and his brother Henry were cousins of Willie Hammerstein, hence Walter Reade Jr was second cousin to Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. The Rosenbergs and the Hammersteins were related by marriage.

Ruthck on February 7, 2008 at 12:37 am

The building is again for sale at $3.5 Million +/– It’s in bad shape from the outside. Has anyone been in the theater lately? Is the balcony still there? What remains? I performed on that stage in ~1972—some 35 years ago and it was pretty run down then…Asbury in general is just sad.

GaryCrawford on October 17, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Also, the XXX movies run in the 1970s at the Savoy were by a company owned by Walter Reade, but known by a different corporate name, for obvious reasons.

Walter Reade Sr. was originally Walter Rosenberg, and the St. James Theatre was named the Rosenberg in its early years.

GaryCrawford on October 17, 2007 at 1:22 pm

The Savoy is still standing, and dormant. It is reasonbly intact, the seats and booth equipment have been gone for some time. If you view the building from the next block on Cookman Ave., you can see by the fire escape just how steep the balcony was! The building itself was named the Kinmouth Building in honor of Dr. Hugh and J. Lyle Kinmouth. J. Lyle established the Asbury Park Press, and his initials were used as the call sign of the (then) Press’s radio station WJLK.

LuisV on August 30, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Hi Saps, It just so happens that I was in Asbury Park this past weekend and took a walk “downtown”. I could be wrong, but I think this corner is in the process of being gutted and the adjoining building torn down. Asbury seems intent on destroying most of what little remains of its glorius architectural past. There are several new condominium projects underway which will bring some very badly needed higher income people into the area, but there is still a very depressing feeling about this town. I also noticed several big new restaurants that have recently opened. I don’t know how they will stay in business over the winter.

I did make my way over to The Paramount and it was actually open! There was a performance scheduled that evening of Kathy Najimy and Mo something or other. I wasn’t able to attend but the ticket agent did allow me to take a quick peek inside and it was in much better shape than I expected it to be in. It’s pretty big. I hope to attend a performance or movie here in the near future and will report on the Paramount site.

Back to the Savoy, I had totally forgotten about this theater. I was only aware of the Paramount and The Baronet as the only ones left. Had I remembered, I would have looked specifically for this theater and reported back accordingly. I hope that I’m wrong about the destruction.

If anyone else can shed any light it would be appreciated.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 30, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Do tell. Is the building still standing?

LuisV on July 4, 2006 at 9:06 am

I meant, what happenned with the suppossed sale? Did it occur? What’s next? :–)

MikeH on July 3, 2006 at 4:54 pm

I’m pretty certain that Walter Rosenberg was Walter Reade’s father.
Reade had his name legally changed. Reade, of course, developed the
Walter Reade theatre circuit of which the Savoy was one.

LuisV on July 3, 2006 at 10:53 am

So what happenned???????

teecee on March 24, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Real estate developer Hugh Kinmonth built the office space. Walter Rosenberg convinced him to build a ground floor extension off the lobby and into the alley for a 1500 seat vaudeville theater. In exchange, Rosenberg paid rent for his lobby access. The original lease was 40 years. The first show was on March 31, 1912. By 1942, Rosenberg owned the building.

source Asbury Park’s Glory Days by Helen-Chantal Pike (2005), page 87

teecee on October 29, 2005 at 9:55 am

The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), Oct 23, 2005 p002
ArtsCAP may call the Savoy home; Asbury landmark is in city’s central district <par>. (SPOTLIGHT)

A group of Asbury Park artists joined forces last winter to galvanize their efforts to protect and promote the arts within the city’s redevelopment district.

Now, just six months after incorporating, the Arts Coalition of Asbury Park has the chance to achieve its primary goal of securing a downtown building to use as the city’s cultural hub.

The owners of the Savoy Theater and the five-story Kinmonth Building that wraps around it have offered to sell the building if ArtsCAP can raise a $250,000 down payment immediately. The original deadline of Oct. 19 has been extended to mid-November. If the down payment is secured, the owners will give the group a year to negotiate the final price – likely to be in the $5 million range – and figure out the financing.

“This was exactly what we wanted from the beginning,” said Dawn Von Suskil, a muralist who is president of the nonprofit ArtsCAP. “Not only does it provide entertainment for people to come to for theater and dance and music, but it will also be an educational hub and a studio hub.”

It may seen like a pipe dream for a brand-new and penniless nonprofit, but arts consultant Louise Stevens believes the group will be successful. ArtsCAP also has the support of the county arts agency and the Asbury Park Urban Enterprise Zone, which are partners in the creation of a Cultural Arts District and Plan for the rapidly changing city.

The Asbury Park City Council also declared its support during a recent meeting, and it is looking at ways it might fund the effort, said Diane Raver, executive director of the Save the Savoy project.

The Savoy, a Walter Reade movie house built in 1911, will need extensive renovations – and somewhere between $15 and $25 million – to bring it back to life as an intimate 600-seat theater.

“It’s so perfect, you just want this hub to be there,” said Stevens about the building, which has five stories of usable office space surrounding the three-story “jewel-like” theater.

“There’s no question they are on high adrenaline, but that will pass. I think we can get past the $250,000 deadline, there will be the ability to pause and get out of the adrenaline mode and go forward in a more studied strategic approach.”

Stevens pointed to several critical factors working in ArtsCAP’s favor. While ArtsCAP is the lead organization, there is a critical mass of nonprofit dance, music theater and film groups – not to mention a vibrant community of individual artists – in Asbury Park who will benefit from the cultural center.

The building would house various performing arts groups, the Garden State Film Festival, and provide studios for artists and classrooms for arts education of all kinds.

“It could house so many arts groups that are currently in Asbury and desperately need space,” said Terri Thomas, director of community arts for the Monmouth County Arts Council, which is working with ArtsCAP.

Second, the effort has the backing, and guidance of the Monmouth County Arts Council which has been focused on the role of the arts in Asbury for more than a year. And finally, the project can be done in stages, allowing the costs to be spread out over many years.

“You could put a campaign like this together in chunks,” said Stevens, who first became involved in the county-wide arts plan that sparked the Asbury initiative. “The unique nature of this building, with 15,000-square feet of office space surrounding the Savoy, means you could turn these offices quite easily into arts organization offices, dance studios, sound recording studios, and then gradually do the work on the Savoy itself. ”

“You have a critical mass (of arts organizations) and you get the energy going and have the community see it, and you save (renovating) the theater for phase two,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the planning effort begun last year by the county arts council gives the project a firm foundation. Funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Mary Owen Borden Foundation, New Jersey Natural Gas and the Asbury Park Urban Enterprise Zone, the Asbury Park arts planning effort is invaluable.

David Miller, executive director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, which is a major funder of the county arts council, said this foundation is vital for the project’s success.

“Failing to take the time to plan, to honestly test feasibility, has gotten people in way over their heads,” Miller said. “As a general rule, we urge good planning and caution.”

It’s a message ArtsCAP understands.

Stevens will convene a three-hour meeting Friday for ArtsCAP board members to discuss and adopt her feasibility report, said Raver, who noted that fundraising without such a report is very difficult.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel, but honing it, tailoring it for our needs,” added Von Suskil about the effort. “It’s going to be a huge challenge, but we have to take a shot at it. To not try would be a crime.”


<p>1. Michael Fornino, co-owner of the Savoy Theater, in the interior of the Mattison Avenue building. Below, a photo of the building in 1911.</p> <p>1. NOAH K. MURRAY/THE STAR-LEDGER</p>

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