Loew's Kings Theatre
1027 Flatbush Avenue,
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The Loew’s Kings Theatre opened its doors to Flatbush Avenue on September 7th, 1929 with Dolores del Rio in “Evangeline”, plus on stage ‘Frills and Fancies’ a revue, Wesley Eddy & his Kings of Syncopation, and the Chester Hales Girls. One of the five ‘Wonder Theatres’ built by Loew’s in New York City, and it opened the same day as its sister theatre in the Bronx, the Loew’s Paradise Theatre.
Loew’s dominated the market in Brooklyn, and this was their flagship in the very grandest French Renaissance style designed by the prestigious firm of Rapp and Rapp of Chicago.
The theatre occupied a massive site built diagonally across an odd assortment of lots and had a seating capacity of 3,676. It had the unusual feature of having the majority of the seating in the orchestra level. There was a vast entrance lobby that opened onto an even more spacious inner lobby and then on to a foyer at the rear of the orchestra. There was no balcony but instead a shallow mezzanine that was entered by stairs off the inner lobby.
The mezzanine level lounges overlooked the entrance lobby. The paneling in the lobby areas was real mahogany and throughout instead of crystal chandeliers there were massive stylized Art Deco style light fittings with elaborate etched glass and tassels.
The sumptuous interior decoration was the work of the Harold Rambusch Studios of New York under the supervision of Ann Dornin of Loew’s. The mezzanine containing only 878 seats, was set way back in the very high auditorium creating a luxurious and spacious feel, even though it was crammed with detail and lavish drapery. The proscenium opening was 60 feet wide and the stage had full facilities and a Robert Morton ‘wonder’ organ which had 4Manuals/23Ranks. Originally presenting stage shows with the feature film, this disappeared in the depression and the theatre remained film only for the rest of its life. The Kings Theatre had a gym and basketball court located in the basement, which were provided for the use of the theatre staff. In the 1950’s a young local girl Barbra Streisand worked in the Kings Theatre as an usher.
The Loew’s Kings Theatre had a steady decline from the 1950’s on-wards and managed to last into the mid-1970’s before it was forced to close due to poor attendances. The Robert Morton ‘wonder’ organ was removed in 1971. The theatre was never divided and remained virtually unchanged throughout its history. Loew’s relinquished the theatre on August 30, 1977 and basically locked the theatre and left it. The final film was George C. Scott in “Islands In the Stream”.
Over the years this most stately monument has just sat and deteriorated quietly on Flatbush Avenue. The marquee still remains but the vertical was removed in the late-1990’s for safety reasons. Now owned by the Flatbush Redevelopment Corporation, the building waited over 30 years for a revitalization. Its interior is still majestic despite the ravages time, vandals and water damage.
In January 2010, plans were announced to renovate the Kings Theatre as a live performance theatre by the Houston based ACE Theatrical Group. The $94M renovation/restoration work began on January 23, 2013, and is set to be completed by 2015.
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