Washington Street Theater

153 Washington Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Will Dunkin – An informed source tells me the reference is actually to the Washington Theatre in uptown Manhattan.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 24, 2014 at 10:50 am

Just cross referencing some information, I find a listing that the Washington Theatre, New York (it doesn’t say Brooklyn) got a pipe organ from the Beman Organ Company in 1915. Beman was a very minor organ builder with just a handful of instruments listed around New York and Pennsylvania. The date, name and modest scale certainly seem right for this hall.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 5, 2012 at 1:47 am

The April 11, 1914, issue of Real Estate Record and Builders Guide has an item that must be about this theater:

“WASHINGTON ST, e s, 27 n High st. 1-sty brick stores and moving picture show, 37x100, gravel roof: cost, $10,000 ; owner, Jacob Somers, East 3d st and Neptune av: architect, Geo. Suess, 2966 West 29th st. Plan No. 1949.”

johndereszewski on December 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

The discussion of this theater in the excellent and recently released “Brooklyn Theatre Index” strongly suggests that the Washington was actually situated near the intersection of Washington and High Sts., which is several blocks south of the location noted in the map. This now places the old theater near the north end of Cadman Plaza Park – or in the upper precincts of Brooklyn Heights rather than in the middle of nowhere. This makes a lot of sense, since, as I noted above, it does not seem credible that a theater could make a go of it in such a totally non-residential community. My guess is that a change occured in Washington St’s numbering at the time it was radically truncated in the early 1950’s.

The Index also sheds some light on the relationship between the Washington Theatre, located at 153-5 Washington and containing a capacity of 400, with the Heights Theatre, located at 159 Washington with a capacity of 834. Since the Washington existed from 1914 to 1927 and the Heights only came on the scene on the year of the former’s demise, it appears highly possible that the smaller theater was incorporated within the larger one and that the two theaters did not operate side by side for any length of time. Since, however, the change that ocurred here was quite radical, it makes sense to maintain separate CT pages for each theater.

Finally, according to the Index, the actual name of this venue was the “Washington Street Theatre” not merely the “Washington Theater”.

johndereszewski on February 13, 2010 at 8:33 am

If the location depicted on the map is correct, this theater was situated in an industrial area that was largely cut off from residential neighborhoods of any size. (DUMBO was, at that time, not even an elephant, not to mention today’s trendy neighborhood.) This not only provides a good reason for its early demise but also raises the question of how a movie house could have been established here in the first place.

Is it possible that the address is wrong – or that the street numberings on Washington St. – which was largely replaced by Cadman Plaza East in the early 1960’s – have been changed? Certainly, a location a few blocks to the north would make a lot more sense.