Decatur Theatre

2715 Webster Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10458

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Decatur Theatre

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Opened in late-1916 as the U.S. Theatre, it was operated by US Amusement Co. and had 2,200 seats. The building occupied a whole block running from 194th Street to 195th Street. The entrance to the theatre was on Webster Avenue near 195th Street, and upon entering one walked from the lobby into the rear of the auditorium, the screen being located at the 194th Street end and the operating booth at the other end (195th Street). The first movie screened at the U.S. Theatre was the Thomas H. Ince million dollar spectacle “Civilisation”. By 1926 it was listed with 1,600 seats. By 1930 it was listed as the United States Theatre and had been equipped with a Western Electric sound system. It had 1,652 seats. By 1931 the seating capacity was reduced the 1,579. By 1936 it was the U.S. Theatre once again and the seating capacity had been reduced to 950. The U.S. Theatre was listed as (Closed) in 1937.

It had reopened as the Decatur Theatre by 1938 and the seating capacity was still 950. This theatre closed by 1950 and has been demolished.

Contributed by Lost Memory, elmorovivo

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 4, 2005 at 4:43 pm

The 1930 edition of the Film Daily Yearbook has it listed as the U.S. Theater with 1,400 seats.

In the 1941 edition of the Film Daily Yearbook it has been re-named Decatur Theater with 950 seats (900 in the 1943 edition). It is not listed in 1950 or 1957 editions of F.D.Y. that I have.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 16, 2017 at 6:34 pm

The Decatur Theatre is most likely this project noted in the November 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:

“Theater, Store & Office Bldg. (seating cap. 2,000): $175,000. 2 sty. 200x100. W. S. Webster av., from 195th to 196th sts. Archt. Geo. F. Pelham, Inc., 30 E. 42d st. Lessee Fleischman Goldreyer Co., care bldr. Bldr. Max J. Kramer, 135 Nassau st., is taking sub-bids. Brk., terra cotta, struct. steel, slag rfg.”
As the block of Webster from 195th to 197th Streets is now occupied by a large public school, I would imagine that the section of 196th Street which the item implies once bisected it was vacated to accommodate that school. The architectural style of the school building indicates construction most likely took place in the late 1940s or early 1950s, which would explain the Decatur’s disappearance from the FDY by 1950.

The gala opening of the U.S. Theatre was covered in the January 6, 1917, issue of Motion Picture News. The writer of the article, probably a Manhattanite, was a bit confused about the theater’s exact location, though, saying repeatedly that it was between 194th and 195th Streets. A scan of the article can be seen here, courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Architect George Frederick Pelham operated his own firm, Geo. F. Pelham, Inc., from 1890 to 1931. Prior to that he had worked as a draftsman in the office of his father, architect George Brown Pelham. G.F.’s own son, George Frederick Pelham, Jr., joined his firm in 1910. Pelham was a master of the revival styles popular during the period from 1890 until the onset of the depression of the 1930s, and the city, especially the upper west side of Manhattan, is still graced with dozens of his works. It’s unfortunate that the Decatur Theatre is not among the survivors.

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