Fine Arts Theater

80 Main Street,
Hempstead, NY 11550

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This theater, originally the State, was located on Main Street in Hempstead, Long Island. It had a square overhanging marquee, and showed primarily cult films. I heard that this theater showed Westerns in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but in the late-1950’s and early-1960’s, it was showing Russ Meyer type films. It may have been related to a smaller theater in Uniondale, LI, NY, the next town to the south. I believe this theater ceased operations in the 1970’s, but cannot be sure.

It was in downtown Hempstead, in the middle of the block and had an adult joke store next to it. It was a busy shopping area with many independent merchants and stores surrounding the theater.

Contributed by sasheegm

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

formerprojectionist
formerprojectionist on December 17, 2008 at 7:28 am

The Fine Arts Theater in Hempstead was originally a burlesque house in the 1920’s. In the late 30’s, they turned the small balcony into a projection booth. It originally showed over seas films and softcore adult flicks until it turned into a full blown adult theater in the 1970’s. It closed in ‘87. I knew quite a few projectionists who worked there. They claimed it was run down, one guy even said it was haunted. The outside of the theater had cardboard cutouts of vintage adult stars from the 60’s and 70’s. It looked like many of the theaters on 42nd. St. I believe they have a mini mall in there now.

jojojo77
jojojo77 on February 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Titty flick central in the mid-60’s. You could smoke joints & sip beer in the balcony, and the mafia types who ran it didn’t care if you were only 17. It was like going to Times Square for teenage suburban wanna-be hipsters. And the ‘joke’ store next door was a classic hangout too. My Mom would have kiled me if she knew I ever went there. It was a 20 minute bus ride from my house near Wantagh Avenue and the A&P. But worth it!

formerprojectionist
formerprojectionist on February 17, 2009 at 7:25 am

If anyone is really interested in reading about this theater, three of the projectionists who worked it where interviewed in this magazine: http://www.cinefear.com/journal.html . It was Volume 3 #1. The issue with the orange cover. That same interview was reproduced in a book called Cinema Sewer, which you can get off Amazon…

robboehm
robboehm on March 13, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Even before it was the State or the Fine Arts, this was the site of the Fulton Theatre. Long Island Memories has a picture of the boarded up Fulton saying that on this site was to be erected a 500 seat movie theatre.

RobertR
RobertR on April 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

This pic is dated 1986
View link

robboehm
robboehm on January 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

Remember seeing Hiroshima, Mon Amor here

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

Referring to the June 8, 2008 post, you can see the Nassau Garage sign in the map view, although it’s not visible in the 1986 photo. Both buildings have that little knob on the top, though.
http://tinyurl.com/y8vnrme

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

Very nice Marquee photo posted by RobertR.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Ken mc… the two buildings (the current google map streetview image with the Nassau Garage inscription and the 1986 image of the FIne Arts that Robert R posted) are definitely one and the same. The theatre must have opened as a conversion of the original auto dealership.

Here’s a photo of the Nassau Garage building as it originally looked circa 1910. The address noted by the Hempstead Library for this photo is 78 Main Street. There’s no question that this is the same building as the Fine Arts building from the 1986 photo. That fact is particularly evident in studying the current google map image and comparing it to the ‘86 shot. Given that it’s a double lot, it is possible that the building covers the addresses 78 and 80 Main Street.

Here is a photo looking up Main Street from Fulton Ave, dated March 1, 1973, in which you can see the illuminated marquee of the Fine Arts in the background, down the block.

And here is the incongruous image mentioned above by rvb that depicts the “Old Fulton Theatre,” described as being on the east side of Main Street just north of Fulton, and with the sign saying that a modern 500 seat theatre was to be erected on the site. That just doesn’t wash with the Nassau Garage history noted above. Curious as to what the true story of these theaters is. Could the “Old Fulton” have been located at a different location on the block? And is it possible that the new theatre was not erected on that same parcel, but rather carved out of the Nassau Garage space due to some long-forgotten economic or logistical reasons? We may never know…

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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