Mayfair Theater

129 E. State Street,
Trenton, NJ 08608

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Orpheum  (Mayfair) Theater Trenton NJ

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Orpheum Theater in 1922.

MikeH’s post from the Trenton Strand covers most of the Mayfair’s history:

“Associated had two downtown theatres. The "A” house was the Mayfair which was located on State Street between Broad and Hanover. It also had a large store on State St. which was a rental property. For most of my memory it was a 5 and dime store with a lunch counter. Later it became one of the chain drug stores like Rite-Aid or something similar. The theatre was a beautiful little band-box of about 1,000 seats, huge by today’s standards but smaller than average for a first-run in the 1950’s. Dad bought it from the Mayfair Theatre Corp. of New York who originally operated the theatre as the Orpheum but changed the name to Mayfair Theater. They were located in the Mayfair theatre at 47th St. and 7th Avenue on Times Square which they later sold to Walter Reade and he called it the DeMille.

Last I saw it it had been cut up into about 5 little theatres. The Mayfair Theater in Trenton was a first-run house and played all the Fox films, half of the Warner films and some of Disney. As Trenton went down hill, especially after the riots in the 1960’s when Martin Luther King was assasinated, so went the Mayfair. Downtown was no longer a destination point for the average movie-goer and all of the downtown theatres closed except the Mayfair which made a living as a black exploitation house. It was eventually bought by a Philadelphia circuit called Budco (I was working for them at the time) until we gave it back. My brother operated it for a few years and finally closed it. It sat idle for a few years until one morning the roof collapsed. Of course it was then torn down".

Contributed by tc

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Crazy Bob Madara
Crazy Bob Madara on September 18, 2006 at 9:29 am

The Booth door faced towards Broad St., and opened to the outside metal steps. The lobby & auditorium seemed like two separate buildings. I seem to remember red shag carperting in the lobby? Mirrors?

Sha
Sha on January 21, 2007 at 1:28 am

My great great grandmother Amelia Lehman-Gorrell was suppsed to have worked here as a concert pianist and for the silent movies.I Have not been able to find a site that would contain this type of information!

itswagon
itswagon on June 24, 2007 at 11:05 am

Being a projectionist I’ve always had interest in the systems. I understand, mind you this is a rumor, that the Mayfair Arc Lamps had a clock motor (wind up) drive. I’d like to know if this is true or not. I remember the mirrored tile foyer leading from State Street.
Thanks,

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm

The Mayfair was the last of Trenton’s eight downtown theaters to close, according to an article Boxoffice Magazine of December 6, 1976, which announced the closing. Vincent Henry was the last manager of the house, and the last movies shown were “Saga In Africa” and “Burnt Offerings.”

This Boxoffice item says that the Henry family had operated the house since acquiring it in 1940, at which time they had changed the name to Mayfair. However, the January 3, 1942, issue of Boxoffice had said that the Hildingers (Charles and Helen) had reopened the former Orpheum as the Mayfair curing Christmas week.

The house had originally opened on March 29, 1922, as the Orpheum Theatre, owned by George B. Ten Eyck. The first feature at the Orpheum was the Coleen Moore film “Come On Over.”

During the 1930s the Orpheum was operated by the William Hunt Theatres Circuit of Wildwood, New Jersey.

RickB
RickB on February 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

A glimpse of the Mayfair’s marquee may be seen on the left side of this picture from about 1973.

jim78609
jim78609 on June 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I worked as a projectionist at the Mayfair from 1972 until 1978, when the Henry family closed it. For the most part, Doug Hewitson worked days, and I worked nights. It survived as a “blacksploitation” theater of the 70’s. An interesting point of trivia…the projection booth was literally a concrete box that was attached to the outside of the theater before WWII. When the trolly stopped being used in Trenton, they attached the box to the outside by encasing the trolly tracks in concrete to create support beams.

jim78609
jim78609 on June 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm

When I worked at the Mayfair in the 70’s, it did not have clock motor drives for the carbon arc lamphouses. Crazy Bob accurately described the equipment in the booth, not to mention that the generator was also in there. It was incredibly loud, and I have hearing loss today partly as a result of those years at the Mayfair. By the way, Local 359 dissolved after Walt Hoffman passed away late in 1978. At that point, there were no union theaters in Mercer County left.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

This opened as Orpheum on May 22nd, 1922. Reopened as Mayfair on December 18th, 1941.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

Grand opening ads posted here.

David46
David46 on October 22, 2013 at 3:55 am

The 5 and dime store was originally Green’s, but became another chain. I think it closed in the 1960s. The entrance of the Mayfair was always an attraction to me as a child as it had pinkish mirrored tiles that produced many curious reflections. At one point, many were missing, but then it was renewed.

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