Central Theater

449 Central Avenue,
Cedarhurst, NY 11516

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Large single screen theater located right in the middle of the shopping district on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst, Long Island. The theater had a nice balcony and the most comfortable seats. They were large, plush rocking chair types. The theater in the late-1970’s was very well maintained and “modern” looking. It blended in very well with the upscale nature of the neighborhood (lots of glass, marble and brass fixtures).

I have no idea when the theater was built and could not based upon the way it looked when I went there in the late-1970’s to see only two movies: “The Deep” and “Grease”. I would imagine it must’ve been built in the late-1920’s/early-1930’s. Prior to closing it had been converted into a triple screen theater. By the mid-1980’s, the theater was closed and the last time I was there, the space had been converted into retail.

Contributed by Chris Connoll

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 5, 2007 at 5:53 pm

I made a visit to the former Central today with my camera in hand. There are some stores at street level, but the main purpose of the building itself seems to be office space. A sign in the front entryway indicates that plenty of space is available within. I was very surprised to see how large the theater structure is – this must have been around a 1500-seater and probably the largest theater built in the Five Towns area. Folks probably had to travel to Rockville Centre or Lynbrook to find a larger house.

Facade
Rear view
New rooftop glass atrium
View from down Central Ave
Building profile

It doesn’t appear that there was ever any stage-loft space, so I doubt this was ever anything other than a cinema. You can glimpse what appears to be a curved glass rooftop structure in the third photo that was presumably installed when the building was gutted for conversion to office/retail space. The pink facade is a pretty lightweight material that has a stucco-like surface and feels hollow to the touch. I imagine the original facade was stripped down to bare brick.

The address of the building is now 445 Central Avenue (can’t say for sure that the theater used the same #) and the zip would be 11516.

I’d never been to Cedarhurst before and was delighted to find such a vibrant and hopping commercial strip here in what seems to be a thriving and largely Orthodox Jewish community.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 5, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Here’s a 12/9/1980 ad from Newsday, by which time the Central had been triplexed and under the stewardship of B.S. Moss along with the Belair Twin in not too distant Valley Stream.

This Daily News ad for “Flash Gordon” comes just a few days later and identifies the theater as a B.S. Moss house.

So, we need an AKA above for “Central Triplex.” I’d also enter the address as 445 Central Ave (until other evidence to the contrary comes to light) and update the zip.

ZiegfeldMan
ZiegfeldMan on September 6, 2007 at 1:40 am

Hi Ed:

I think we are both fans of the Ziegfeld Classics as I believe I see your name on the Ziegfeld page many times. I work in Cedarhurst (we could have had lunch together yesterday!) I sorely miss the Central, that’s where I saw Close Encounters in its original run. Incredible evening almost thirty years ago. These days I go over to Green Acres (not the Sunrise) or The Fantasy in RVC. I have issues with the Lynbrook at the five corners, and don’t get me started on the Malverne!! Best of all is the Ziegfeld. I saw Porgy and Bess not too long ago at Moving Image in Astoria. Reviving it at the Ziegfeld is a very creative move on Craig’s part. It’s not a well known film-but beautiful-I just hope people show up to see it!!

Best,

Gary

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 6, 2007 at 8:54 am

Hi Gary. Yup, I recognize your comments from the Ziegfeld page as well. I’ve bemoaned the present condition of the Lynbrook over on its CT page, particularly after having recently given it another couple of visits in the last month or so. Never been to the Malverne.

ZiegfeldMan
ZiegfeldMan on September 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Ed:

Let’s connect at some point, since I live over in Woodmere. White Castle is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Just came from Moving Image in Astoria, a place I love and support. There was a preview of the new “3:10 to Yuma”-FABULOUS.
Go see it tomorrow!!!

The Malverne gives new meaning to “glued to your seats.”

Best,

Gary

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 28, 2008 at 5:00 am

The Central Theatre first opened in 1922 and was built by local interests at the urging of movie mogul William Fox, who had a summer home in Woodmere, according to press clippings in the theatre’s file at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, NYC. The Central quickly proved a success and was taken over by B.S. Moss, whose company continued to operate it after his death. The address is reported as 449 Central Avenue in trade directories and in newspaper articles and advertising. The Central was twice partially destroyed by fires, the first in 1937 and the second in 1962. The first removed all traces of the Central’s original auditorium, including a magnificent crystal chandelier that had been considered one of the seven wonders of Cedarhurst. After both fires, the Central was re-built and the seating capacity somewhat increased. It was reported as 1,500 at the time when the Central was converted (unsuccessfully) into a triplex.

stoneyron
stoneyron on December 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

The Central Theater was the most beautiful Theater I had ever seen in my 35 years of working in the movie business,I had the pleasure of working there first as an usher in 1970 and then as a projectionist in 1973, I was so sad to see they closed such a beautiful theater and how the historical society could ever let them ruin it and turn it into a mall is beyond me,if I were rich I would put it back to the way it was as a theater or a playhouse again.If anyone wants to invest and do that I would be willing to supply the equipment and invest in such a project,with all the multiplex Theaters around there should be one big theater left. towns area

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

Architectural sketch for 1962 revamping: Boxoffice

robboehm
robboehm on July 20, 2012 at 4:33 am

Lost Memory has a reference to the Central in 1923. The text accompanying the sketch referred to by Tinseltoes makes the 1962 theatre as new. For a half million it should have been.

paktype
paktype on October 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

The space is now called the Cedarhurst Center and it is used for retail stores. It was very nice when it first opened in the late 1980s but it is a little run down now.

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