199-03 32nd Avenue,
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I found out about this theater via a post from Warren on the Bayside Theater site. According to his post, the Victory was a mid-size neighborhood cinema that had 1,274 seats and was run for some time by the Skouras organization. Warren and others then posted that the place had been at varying times a bowling alley, a bingo hall and a flea market. I live in the vicinity and decided to take a drive by to see if any of the original theater survived. The building still stands on 32nd Ave, a small commercial strip in a residential neighborhood just East of the much busier Frances Lewis Boulevard, and is currently occupied by the Cham Presbyterian Church of New York.
The marquee has been replaced by a store-front style awning and a rolldown gate seems to be perpetually locked in place. It is when you walk around the block and notice the faded art-deco “New Victory” sign painted on the side of the building and see the balcony fire escape leading down to an alley behind the structure that its past becomes very obvious. I assume that “New” was appended to the theater’s name later in it’s existence, but couldn’t find any history of the theater to support that. If you look through the front gate, the word “Victory” can be seen in the floor tile work of the outer lobby.
I was able to search through building records at NYC’s Dept of Buildings website (with the assistance of the online NYC OASIS satellite mapping project to identify the block and lot) and found that the building was erected in 1929 (the original building permit dates to 1926) with alterations made twice in 1930 and again in 1957, 1968, 1971 and 1987. Violation records show that in 1989, when the building was owned by Bayside Hall Inc, a fine was imposed for operating a “place of assembly” as if the building were a flea market when the Certificate of Occupancy was for a “bingo hall”. Further, in 1993 and ‘94 there are violations for the hazardous condition of the exterior facade including a citation for the collapse of the marquee – which was apparently being held up off the sidewalk by wooden boards and police barricades! Other violations in the '90’s involved broken and missing plaster and exposed steel in the interior.
The church has several plans filed for alterations to continue the conversion to church use, including significant remodeling of the interior and “conversion of second floor to church use” — perhaps restoring a balcony that had been sealed off from the rest of the auditorium at some point? I found nothing about a bowling alley, but if that was the case, I wonder how much of the interior elements remain from the original configuration.
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