Gem Theatre

3355 Fulton Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11208

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Showing 1 - 25 of 76 comments

Bway on April 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

Is the building the bank using the old theater?

jflundy on September 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm

The Complete Street Guide to Brooklyn, 1939 World’s Fair Edition, lists the Adelphi Theater at 3355 Fulton Street.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 11:34 am

Karl B, good to have you back ! I was hoping you would be. I hope you are well. You could certainly help in these Gem and Embassy Theater discussions !

KarlB on June 13, 2006 at 11:25 am

For some reason I cannot open the link to the picture that you provide. I worked for the bank in 1955 when it was known as the Hamburg Savings Bank. the bank had the theatre and two store fronts razed to double the size of the bank building, and create a drive in banking window. The Gem was located in the middle of the block, just about half way between Crescent and Hemlock Sts. If the parking lot is still there that is where most of the Gem stood.

tapeshare on June 13, 2006 at 9:24 am

I can see your confusion. The tax lots and addresses were
merged over time so when people research this they often
get thrown off. If you visit my website you can see a lot
of shots of the area over time. Unfortunately a shot of
the Gem has eluded me so far.

Bway on June 13, 2006 at 7:09 am

I thought it was where that lot was, but in the description above it says, “Use: Bank” and that’s what confused me. Then it should be changed above to “Closed/Demolished” if it was in fact where that parking lot is.

tapeshare on June 13, 2006 at 6:42 am

Sorry, but that is not a photo of the Gem Theater. The Gem
was torn down to make room for the expansion of that bank building
and a parking lot/drive thru. The Adelphi/Gem sat where that
parking lot is now.

As Onni confirmed, the Adelphi
was renovated and a CO dated July 25, 1932 was issued after
the renovation.

Bway on June 13, 2006 at 5:23 am

Here’s a photo of the Gem Theater. I assume it’s the bank building on the corner:

View link

PKoch on May 17, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Thank you, onni, for revealing your age, and for contributing to a theater page that I started. I hope Karl B returns to this site, and that you, being several years older, and apparently quite knowledgable, are able to answer some of his questions, and clear up some mysteries.

Thanks for coming here.

The correct spelling is “competitor”, and thanks for asking. Poor spelling is one of my bete-noirs, bugbears, and pet peeves.

Please check out Tapeshare’s Cypress Hills – East New York site, the link to which is several posts above this one.

I am familiar with this neighborhood because my father’s parents and sister lived at 169 Chestnut Street from sometime between 1956 and 1960, to summer 1968, when they moved to Woodhaven.

onni on May 17, 2006 at 11:57 am

I can tell you that the Gem was an upgrade of the old Adelphi. The Adelphi had fallen into disrepair so the facade and interior was replaced. The building itself was not replaced but it was an extensive job.It was near to maybe next to the Hamburg Savings Bank. How do I know? Because I am 77 yrs old & walked by the Adelphi-Gem many times in the 1930’s.But I can also add that the Gem never was much of a compeditor (spelling?) to the Embassy.

tapeshare on January 2, 2006 at 1:37 pm

I was responding to some earlier posts by cjdv and Lost Memory
that mentioned 3335 Fulton. I used the Brooklyn Economic Development
Corp. site to pinpoint the address and your memory is quite good.
It is west of Crescent on the north side of Fulton. The data suggests it was unlikely to have ever been a movie house. Subsequently I did confirm the existence of the Adelphi in the same
location as the Gem Theater. The only question now is if it was simply converted or the building itself completely replaced.

KarlB on January 2, 2006 at 8:43 am

Hi Tapeshare, I don’t know whether it was a typo or not, but I notice in your post of 12/20 you specifically mention 3335 Fulton St. This address was in the next block west, and if I recall correctly, it was at the foot of the el stairs to the Crescent St station. In the 1950’s this building was a cut rate store with two railroad flats above it. Friends of my parents rented one of the flats. It’s ironic that the woman of the family worked part time at the Gem box office. I seem to recall that this was an unusual building in that it had an el pillar right in the entranceway to the store. It has been a long time since I have been in the area and perhaps I remember the address incorrectly. I do know that I worked in a candy store in the evenings which I think was located at 3331 Fulton St. I seem to remember a bar and grill being located at 3333 Fulton St.

tapeshare on December 27, 2005 at 12:47 pm

Well I received a hi-resolution scan of the 1925 photo and
sitting in the site of the Gem Theater, lo and behold…a
building with the marquee “Adelphi” in front of it. Perhaps
one of our “Gem” historians can recognize if it was subsequently
renovated or torn down completely. It’s now posted in “Zone 4"
of my site.

PKoch on December 21, 2005 at 6:41 am

Thanks, tapeshare. I forwarded the link to your ENY – Cypress Hills site to Karl B privately a few weeks ago.

tapeshare on December 20, 2005 at 12:15 pm

First of all I invite Karl, Peter, and “Lost Memory” to my website dedicated to East New York and Cypress Hills. You will find many
images there of the places you have discussed.

Of course everyone is welcome. On my site is a picture of the
Northeast corner of Fulton and Crescent in 1925. There was a hotel
there that was damaged in a fire; the bank replaced it and the CO
was issued in 1931. The image is small so I have ordered a copy
from the New York Digital archives as the buildings just east of it
are in the photo but too small to identify.

I will also track down the 1939 tax photos for that block; its not
always easy as this address and tax lot appears to have shifted. The
1931 CO that “Lost Memory” mentions lists the address as “3353-63"
Fulton, 70 feet east of Crescent.

I don’t think 3335 Fulton was a theater address- it is a 20 by
100 foot lot, developed in 1920 for mixed use. Seems like a storefront apartment, not likely to be a theater.

Karl mentions a few places east of the Gem. I have a 1945 photo of
the block just east of the Gem (how aggravating is that?)and the business are: 3363 George Rusch Deli, then a Barber shop, 3367 is
the Cypress Fish Market, then Murphy Florist, then King Drugs
on the corner.

My only contribution to the Adelphi mystery is to follow up on
the Adelphi connection- there was a place at the turn of the century
identified as the “Adelphi Oval”, corner of Fulton and Crescent.
Presumably part of the school then, I have not been able to
dig up anything on it.

So I’ll do some digging, anyone from that area is welcome to enjoy
the site, and happy holidays to all

KarlB on October 4, 2005 at 5:34 pm

I was born in 1936 and lived right around the corner from the Gem Theatre. My earliest memories of the theatre date to approximately 1941. I attended hundreds of movies and shows at the theatre during the 1940’s and early 1950’s. The theatre fronted on Fulton St. The theatre was one story high, and if I recall correctly, had a boiler room in a basement at the west end or rear of the theatre. The emergency exits opened directly onto Fulton St. The most eastern emergency exit was at the front of the theatre in line with the screen. In other words the theatre auditorium faced east with the south or right wall facing Fulton St. The eastern emergency exit was approximately three feet below the street level indicating that the theatre floor sloped from west to east. It is my belief that there was no basement under this lowest portion or east end of the theatre.
The Hamburg Savings Bank of 3345 Fulton St bought the theatre circa 1954 and demolished it in 1955 along with two stores located west of the theatre. The bank was completely renovated, and doubled in size. Most of the area of the old theatre became a parking lot and a drive in window for the bank. I believe this still exists today although I have not been in the area in 25 years. This may explain the disappearance of the 3355 address. The only name I was ever aware of for this theatre was the name Gem.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 31, 2005 at 4:04 am

Okay….lets say that there was no gargage at this address and the Adelphi theater was located there. Why would you tear down a 600 seat theater only to replace it with another 600 seat theater? Keep in mind that this is during the depression and I doubt that the theater owner wanted to spend anymore money than he had to. Why not just remodel the Adelphi theater and open it as the Gem?

The theater over the garage theory is possible. A parking garage would most likely not have a basement and none is listed in the documents. No basement means no furnace. How did they heat this theater? Wood or coal burning stove? Not a great idea in a movie theater. Maybe thats the reason its not listed in the records. The Adelphi might not have been equipped for sound either. For whatever reason, by 1930 it was time to replace this theater with a more modern theater that had a basement.

The new theater could have been built by the same owner of the Adelphi and the Adelphi name was retained for the first year. I already mentioned that a year later there were some alterations done and a new owners name is listed. The new owner could have changed the name to the Gem theater. The exact date that the Gem opened still won’t explain why there is no records for the Adelphi theater.

There are some theaters that we might never know all the details about so we can only guess at them. Sometimes things aren’t all black and white. We don’t know exactly what went on back then and what the owner was thinking. Whatever he did at the time might have made sense to him but makes no sense to us today. I would list the Adelphi theater on here as a seperate theater with this address. Maybe one day we will come across more info on it.

KenRoe on August 30, 2005 at 11:00 pm

Anyone on here got a 1931 or 1932 Film Daily Yearbook to confirm when the Gem Theatre is first listed?

I have to admit from the evidence we have already, that this is becoming a bit of a mystery, especially regarding the Adelphi Theatre.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 30, 2005 at 1:49 pm

Ken….For the address of 3355 Fulton Street there is no theater listed until 1930. I do believe that there was an Adelphi Theater. I just can’t figure where it was actually located. It is a strange coincidence that the Adelphi disappears after 1930 and the Gem appears. I’m sure that one replaced the other. There are no records of a theater prior to 1930 at this address. The motion picture theater listed in 1930 is a “new” building, not an altered or existing building.

Someone asked about the Gem having a basement. The Gem theater did have a basement. Its actually listed as a cellar and the boiler was located there. The Adelphi is shown in your 1930 FDY, when does the Gem theater first appear? I did some checking on 3345 where the Bank is now. In 1925 there was a store and a 3 family “tenement” (their words, not mine) at 3345 Fulton St so the Adelphi couldn’t be there either. The first mention of a Bank at this address occurs in 1933.

here is one odd thing that I read that might make your theory possible. All of the documents about the garage/storage building are pretty much the same wording except for one. In 1918 it reads “1st floor garage”. That would lead you to believe that there was a second floor but it makes no mention of a second floor. Suppose that the Adelphi was on the second floor. Either it was closed or it was operating illegally with no C/O. Anything is possible.

KenRoe on August 30, 2005 at 12:12 pm

Is it possible that the private automobile/storage garage could have been located on the ground floor and the Adelphi upstairs? Another option could be the Adelphi located at the rear of the garage, with entrance to it via a passage alongside the building?

KenRoe on August 30, 2005 at 11:55 am

The American Motion Picture Directory 1914 – 1915 lists the Adelphi Theatre operating at 3355 Fulton Street.

Listings for the Adelphi Theatre in Film Daily Yearbook editions that I have are:– 1926=582 seats, 1927=600 seats, 1930=520 seats, all at the 3355 Fulton Street address.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 30, 2005 at 9:01 am

I have some new search tools available so I did some further research on this property. I went back to 1916. In that year, there is a private automobile/storage garage listed for the address of 3355 Fulton Street. The garage listing remains constant through the 1920’s. The first mention of a movie theater is in 1930 when a 540 seat theater receives a C/O issued on a new building. The owner is the C.F. Amusement Co. The architect was Charles Pabst. In 1931 the theater receives minor alterations and the owner is now listed as Adolphe Kloster. Architect for the alterations appears to be S. Williams and Sons. Some of the signatures are difficult to read. The theater is still there in 1938 only now it has 584 seats. I don’t believe that I need to search any further. The 1930 theater should be the Gem Theater.

Where was the Adelphi Theater located? Maybe it was located at 3335 Fulton St as first mentioned in another message above. I don’t know whats located at 3335 Fulton today, but there are no records listed for that address for me to check. It might be residential property which I can’t search right now. At the moment I can only trace commercial buildings. I didn’t trace 3345 Fulton St but the records show a Green Point Bank located at that address. If the Adelphi Theater was at 3335 Fulton St, it should have its own listing on here since it was a different theater.

PKoch on July 11, 2005 at 6:55 am

I think you mean the Willard, which see on this site (it has its own page) now the Cordon Bleu catering hall. I think there was also a smaller theater on the south side of Jamaica Avenue west of Woodhaven Blvd. that npw may be, or is used by, a school.

Scholes188 on June 25, 2005 at 3:32 am

Hello PKoch. Yes that was definitely a typo. It seems clear to me from these postings that so much has changed in the neighborhoods where these theaters once stood. And it hasn’t always been a change for the better.

I am looking for information on a theater that might have stood on the corner of Jamaica and 90th Street. It is now a catering hall.

Scholes188 on June 25, 2005 at 3:32 am

Hello PKoch. Yes that was definitely a typo. It seems clear to me from these postings that so much has changed in the neighborhoods where these theaters once stood. And it hasn’t always been a change for the better.

I am looking for information on a theater that might have stood on the corner of Jamaica and 90th Street. It is now a catering hall.