Rogers Theatre

835 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Unfavorite 4 people favorited this theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Contributed by OttoBurger

Recent comments (view all 99 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2009 at 4:21 am

Perhaps someone who was in the Rogers Theatre at some time could look at the two top photos on the right-hand page of this scan of Boxoffice from November 11, 1936. I know the place might have been redecorated by the time anyone posting here saw it, but maybe somebody can confirm the location anyway.

As there were two theaters called the Rogers in Brooklyn, I’m not sure which of them these photos depict, though their accompanying text in Boxoffice says that the house depicted was designed by architect William I. Hohauser, and Cinema Treasures says that the other Rogers Theatre was designed by Charles Sandblom, so the Broadway location is more likely the one in the photos.

So, if the pictures do depict the Rogers Theater on Broadway, the architect for the remodeling in 1936 was William Hohauser.

jflundy
jflundy on December 13, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Hello Joe..
I can’t say for sure, but it looks a lot alike the other Rogers Theater, the one on Rogers Avenue in Crown Heights. I was only there once, back in July 1951, but the shot towards the front of the house looks a very much as I remember it.

TPH
TPH on December 13, 2009 at 6:04 pm

I agree with Lundy. Never having been to the “other Rogers”, my recollection of the Broadway house in the “50’s is of a very simple/plain setting with wooden seats, no similarity to the house discussed in the 1936 article of Boxoffice. Similarly, the communities served by each theatre would reflect the differences. The B'way location on the edge of Williamsburg & Bushwick, under the el served a poor & working class community. The Roges Ave. address was located near Flatbush & Crown Heights, two upwardly mobile middle class neighborhoods, more accustomed to luxury and comforts.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 14, 2009 at 12:11 am

Let me add my two cents here in support of JF and Hector’s position.

First, the 1936 article sets the theater’s capacity at 600, which fits the Crown Heights Rogers to a t, but not the Broadway theater’s considerably smaller 488 seat capacity.

Second, and more importantly, as many of the previous comments suggest, the Williamsburg Rogers – with sawdust on the floors, cats in the aisles and an oater driven repertoire – would have been one of the last places to be featured as the subject of a classy upgrade. It was a fine and much beloved local movie house – nothing more and nothing less. It is also a prime example – as noted by my colleague Bway elsewhere on this site – of a modest building with an awning attached to it, that typiified a number of the modest early movie houses.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 14, 2009 at 4:45 am

Well, so far that’s three to zero against the Boxoffice photos being of this Rogers Theatre. If they depict the Rogers Avenue Rogers, though, then the attribution of the design of that theater to Charles Sandblom must be wrong. Boxoffice often got some details wrong (that’s why I discounted their reported seating capacity of 600 in that article), but I don’t think they’d make a mistake about who sent them photos for publication, and the text of that article is quite clear that the photos were supplied by architect William Hohauser.

I wonder if maybe the Rogers on Broadway was an early Sandblom design, and that’s where the confusion came from? He was working independently (after leaving Thomas Lamb’s office) as early as 1921. On the other hand, from the descriptions above it doesn’t sound as though this Rogers Theatre had any architecture to speak of, and that makes it less likely to have been a Sandblom design. In fact the descriptions (wooden seats, sawdust on the floor) sound like it might have been a survivor from the nickelodeon days.

jflundy
jflundy on December 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm

It is possible that Sandblom was the architect of the Rogers in Crown Heights but that Hohauser was the decorative designer for the interior. The article in Boxoffice does stress design detail.

It think it almost impossible that Sandblom was architect for the Broadway Rogers given its age, and the styling and condition at closing.

A thanks to Joe Vogel for bringing up this interesting question.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm

In reviewing the last few posts and consulting the City’s Dept. of Building on-line file, I came up with a few facts and observations that I would now like to share. Here goes:

  1. While the one story tax-payer now occupying this site was only constructed in 1987, it appears that the old home of the Rogers was not rased until at least 1985, though it, at that time, had probably been little more than an abandoned shell of its former self for a considerable number of years. That was when the “current structure” was designated as an “unsafe building”; it was probably demolished soon thereafter. (The same fate also occurred with just about all of the buildings previously situated on this block-front at around this time.)

  2. A review of the certificate of occupany underlines just how little space was available for theatrical use. Specifically, the Rogers was situated in what was essentially the first floor of two, three story, adjacent residential structures. As the records clearly indicate, the two upper floors were occupied by either offices (on the second floor) or residences (on the third). This basically left the Rogers with only the first floor to use – and probably ruled out the existence of any balcony. (This provides further proof that the 1935 article referenced above did not concern this theater.)

  3. Given these facts, it is surprising that the capacity of the Rogers was as large at it was. But capacity was actually set at approximately 590 persons in the late 1930’s and only reduced to 520 in the following decade – and the 488 capacity noted at the top of this page was only designated somewhat later.

  4. In sum, the Rogers was probably, as Joe Vogal notes above, a real survivor of cinema’s “nickelodeon days”. If it had not been situated along one of Brooklyn’s main comercial drags, it would probably have closed upon the onset of the talking movie. but that did not occur – and the Rogers survived for many more years thereafter.

Bway
Bway on December 25, 2009 at 11:24 am

Thanks John for all your great research on this!

Astyanax
Astyanax on July 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Good insights from John D. Sub-sub run nabes had a smaller operating “nut” than the larger palaces so from an economic perspective, it was not unusual for the Rogers, like the nearby Grand & Graham survived the much grander Republic and the Alba.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater