Kings Theatre

1027 Flatbush Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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Loew's Kings Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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.

Contributed by Porter Faulkner, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,504 comments)

Scott
Scott on March 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

“Tax dollars are supposed to be spent on projects that make taxpayer’s lives better.”

Right. And that definition provides an umbrella under which politicians justify just about anything.

BobbyS
BobbyS on March 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

The beautiful Rialto Theatre in Joliet, Il. does a very brisk business in weddings. I am there once a month on a Sunday and many times the marquee still spells out from the day before. Example: “A Love Story” starring the names of the couple who just wed. The theatre has many packages that include catering, flowers etc. all from local Joliet businesses. Some use the lobby alone, many use both lobby & stage & Barton organ. They do reach out and lobby the theater rental. You are right Lifes Too Short, management has to be creative & pro-active in these times for a successful operation.

sam siklas
sam siklas on April 10, 2014 at 10:16 am

Once the restoration project has progressed far enough, the New York Theater Organ Society will begin the process of re-installing a Robert Morton Wonder organ into the Kings. The console used will be the original which was installed the year the theater opened in 1929. With the King’s smaller mezzanine/large main floor seating area, the Morton will have a nicely open area to speak into – it should be a “Wonder” to hear it!

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

Just posted a shot of the auditorium during renovation in the photos section.

tibia
tibia on May 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I just went by the theatre on Sunday. The front of it is covered in scaffolding. The marquee is gone in prep for a new replica of the original to be installed. The extended stage house also needs to be walled in. My mentor, Lee Erwin, played the last concert on the organ, and tried to save it. NYU dropped the ball and refused to take ownership of it. The console was then put into Carnegie Hall Cinema, and the pipework put into storage. While in storage, the pipework was terribly vandelized and damaged. I do not believe any of it still exists. Paul Van der Mohlen bought the console and had it restored for his home. He put Morton pipework to it. If the Kings gets the organ, it will be a Wonder Morton console with Morton pipework that needs a lot of work on it in order to fill the room. I hope this happenes, and that the theatre gets its voice back.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Here is an article dated today, about the restoration with photos.

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/05/28/see_the_amazing_restoration_of_flatbushs_1920s_movie_palace.php

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm

And here’s one from 09/13/13 with more photos.

http://gizmodo.com/inside-the-restoration-of-brooklyns-glamorous-temple-o-1295348916

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on June 2, 2014 at 11:39 am

I’ve been working on a book documenting the Kings for a long time, and I’m really excited to finally be able to talk about it. Here’s some more information about the project:

Kings Theatre – The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre

THS Press Release

Curbed Article with new restoration photographs

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 25, 2014 at 6:49 am

According to Curbed it is opening in January.

spectrum
spectrum on September 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

Their official webpage is http://www.kingstheatre.com/

Their facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/KingsTheatreBklyn

The facebook page has a lot of restoration news and photos.

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