Academy Theatre

82 Broadway,
Newburgh, NY 12550

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Help us make this street view more accurate

Please adjust the view until the theater is clearly visible. more info

Exterior view

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This was originally a concert hall and playhouse known as the Academy of Music. After conversion to a cinema, the name was shortened to Academy Theatre. Situated on the opposite side of Broadway from the Ritz Theatre, Cameo Theatre, and Broadway Theatre, the Academy Theatre catered to Newburgh’s large black community and was listed in Film Daily Year Books as a “Negro Theater”. It played the same movies as the other Newburgh theatres, but considerably later.

The Academy Theatre was destroyed in a fire on February 15, 1956, and its remains demolished. More information about its history and the current status of the site is needed.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

BobWilson
BobWilson on May 9, 2006 at 4:29 am

Ray – Actually, before the late 1950’s, there were two small concentrations of “Blacks” living in Newburgh. On the North Side, along both sides of Smith Street from First to South Streets, and on the South side, an even smaller concentration living on Ann and maybe Washington Streets, just West of Liberty Street, near a church with a Black congregation.
In Newburgh, I lived in the Colonial Terraces in the Northwest Quadrant, and was at West Street School from 1939 until 1946. During all the time I was there, there was not ONE Black student there. Not until I got to NJHS were there any Black kids enrolled.
One of the leading families in Newburgh as far back as the turn of the 20th Century (before even MY time) were the Alsdorfs, who operated a dance academy down on Liberty Street for many years.

RayK
RayK on May 10, 2006 at 11:25 am

Bob…Well, we basically agree that the black population was very small in Newburgh during the 40s and early 50s. I agree with you that during my elementary school days, there were no black students until I entered SJH in 1955 and NFA from ‘56 to '59. I never heard, however, the Academy being referred to as a “Negro Theater.” My brother and I and the local neighborhood gang of kids almost always attended the Saturday afternoon matinees at the Academy in the late 40s and early 50s and never recall seeing any black kids in attendance. The Alsdorfs were probably gone during this time as the name is not familiar.

BobWilson
BobWilson on May 10, 2006 at 11:52 am

Ray…up until late 1949, when my Dad was transferred to Delaware by the Fabby, I also was a fairly regular attendee at those interminable but enjoyable Saturday Matinees at the Academy, but I DO remember seeing a FEW black kids in attendance. But it was then in no way, shape or form, a “Negro Theater” then, either. It was just a theater. I failed to mention earlier that the Alsdorf’s were a ‘black’ family that had been in Orange County since the early 1700’s, and that the last surviving member of the family that I remember seeing was a very old man, and was a still a respected member of the Newburgh business community.

RayK
RayK on May 11, 2006 at 7:04 am

Bob…We do agree on the issue of the Academy being just a theater regardless if there were in attendance black kids or not. I do remember that era in Newburgh’s history as being a predominantly a non black one as far as the population is concerned. As I stated earlier, when one did see a black person, it was very uncommon thing. Not until the mid 50s when the first migrant workers arrived from the south to pick fruit in the area north of Newburgh did the black population begin to increase. Incidently, being a Wilson, do you still have relatives in the Newburgh area? I married a Wilson—just wondering if there is a connection? My email is

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 5, 2007 at 10:47 am

The Academy of Music in Newburgh is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. Fred Taylor was the Mgr. and the seating was 1,248. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1. The house had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 40 feet square, and the stage was 30 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 6 in the house orchestra. There were 3 daily newspapers and one weekly and there were 5 hotels in town. The 1897 population of Newburgh was 28,000.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

Here’s a new link to an exterior view described above on 10/13/05:
View link

BobWilson
BobWilson on July 28, 2011 at 7:58 am

I just noticed that the Academy is listed here as being “closed”. More properly, it should be listed as “demolished”, since I know for a fact that as far back as 2001 and probably well before that, its site has been was a parking lot on the NW corner of Grand Street at Broadway.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 25, 2012 at 6:32 am

Many years of advertising for the Academy and other Newburgh theatres can be found here: google

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on May 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

Please see my comments about the Academy and Cameo that were posted here today: cinematreasures

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on February 16, 2013 at 9:47 am

The Academy of Music was destroyed in a fire on February, 15th, 1956. The fire took four hours to get under control, and caused damage estimated at between $150,000 to $200,000, according to an Associated Press report. The theatre’s owner promised to build a new cinema on the site that had all the latest innovations in design and technology. I don’t think that ever happened.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater