Palace Theatre

East Front Street and Wharf Avenue,
Red Bank, NJ 07701

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The Palace Theatre was on the corner of E. Front Street and Wharf Avenue (now an empty lot). It was originally a live theatre in the 1880’s named Frick’s Theatre and staged “The Squaw Man” (later to be Cecil B. De Mille’s first short film). The theatre was renamed the Palace Theatre.

Count Basie would visit this theatre in his youth: “For fun, Basie loved seeing silent movies at the Palace Theatre in Red Bank, particularly because he could listen to the live piano accompanying the movies”.

Any additional information on this theatre would be greatly appreciated.

Contributed by tc

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

teecee on April 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm


This theater was built in 1912 by the Red Bank Amusement Company. Original name was the Lyric Theater. Located on E. Front Street across from the Globe Hotel. Functioned as a vaudeville house and moving picture theater. Briefly known as FERBER’s Theater in 1919. In 1920 it became the Palace Theater. Leased by ME McNulty, the local “Mr. Barnum”. It was during this period that Count Basie was a frequent patron, often listening to Harold LaRoss play the organ for silent movies.

In 1928, the Palace was sold at a sheriff’s sale to Tony Hunting, just as talkies were taking off. By 1944, no longer listed in the Film Daily Yearbook.

The Frick’s Theatre listed in the main description is a different theater.

source: Stars of the New Jersey Shore 110-111, 116-117

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 6, 2015 at 7:58 pm

I believe three theaters are conflated in the current description. The theater built in the 1880s must have been the Red Bank Opera House, which opened in 1883 and burned to the ground in 1905. It was located on the south side of Front Street just west of Maple Avenue.

Frick’s Theatre was better known as Frick’s Lyceum, and it opened in September, 1906, in a converted tomato cannery on the waterfront. The site is now part of Marine Park. An article about it appeared in the August 29, 1906, issue of the Red Bank Register (upper left corner of this PDF.) The Lyceum was listed in the 1912 Cahn guide with the notation “This theater is still in existence but has been closed for some time.” It does not appear in the 1913-1914 guide.

The theater at Front Street and Wharf Avenue was, as teecee said, built in 1912. The Red Bank Register of October 23, 1912, had an article about it (top right corner of the first page of this PDF.) Stockholders in the Red Bank Amusement Company were Fred H. VanDorn, Thomas Williams, and John J. Travers. The theater featured a long lobby, 13 feet wide and 71 feet long, which led from Front Street to the theater proper, which backed up to Union Street and was 56x128 feet. The Lyric was erected by local builder George W. Sewing, who also acted as architect.

The article said that the owners hoped to have the house open by Thanksgiving, but they missed the date. The January 22, 1913, issue of the Register said that the installation of the furnishings and equipment of the theater was well underway and the opening was to be on or about February 1.

The Lyric was remodeled in early 1920 and reopened as the Palace Theatre on April 5, according to the April 7 issue of the Register. The Palace was first operated by N. E. McNulty. In September, 1928, the house had another name change, becoming the Hunting Theatre, which was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Tony Hunting. The theater closed in 1930, but reopened later that year under the previous name Palace Theatre. On January 9, 1931, the Palace Theatre was completely destroyed by a fire.

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