Amphion Theatre

614 Ninth Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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Amphion Theatre

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This theatre exhibited motion pictures from at least 1919 to 1929 or later.

More information would be appreciated.

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

KenRoe on December 9, 2005 at 12:05 pm

The Film Daily Yearbook;1926 edition lists the Amphion Theatre, 620 9th Avenue, New York, NY. with a seating capacity of 600.

KenRoe on April 29, 2006 at 1:55 am

The Film Daily Yearbook;1930 edition lists the Amphion Theatre, 614 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan, New York with a seating capacity given as 578.

In the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915 there is an Amphion Theatre, Brooklyn listed at Bedford Avenue and Division Avenue. It is not listed under Brooklyn in the F.D.Y. of 1926 or subsequent editions, only the one in Manhattan.

AlAlvarez on April 29, 2006 at 9:31 am

Thank you, Ken. This is one of the most obscure NY theatres I have encountered so far. It appears in my 1934 Film Daily (as Ampion) and an obituary for owner William Yoost. (He died in Miami Beach, like all hard working New Yorkers deserved to in 1940.)

The obit does confirm that all his theatres were in Manhattan. (Chelsea, Circle, Royal, 34th Street, Chaloner, and REGENT!)

By the way the 1934 address is 614 Ninth Avenue, as above, and to make matters even more convoluted, the Brooklyn Amphion was really off ninth street, not Division.

Are you based in London?

KenRoe on April 29, 2006 at 10:44 am

Al; Thanks for adding further details to the Amphion Theatre’s (Manhattan & Brooklyn). Always good to read your interesting comments on this site.

Yes, I am based in London(South Tottenham in the North of the capitol). I read on your profile you are here too?

I will be in NYC in late May for 5 weeks, again checking out more theatres.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 29, 2006 at 12:12 pm

This is a portion of a NY Times obit for Edwin Knowles dated April 15, 1902. It mentions that Knowles opened the Amphion Theater on Bedford Avenue. Could this be the same Amphion Theater in the 1914-15 American Motion Picture Directory?

“Edwin Knowles was born in Providence, RI, fifty-six years ago. When sixteen years old, he went to work as a reporter on The Providence Evening Telegram. In 1867 he began his theatrical career as an actor in the old New York Theatre. He continued before the footlights for fifteen years, appearing at different times with Lester Wallack, Lawrence Barrett, Fanny Davenport, Mary Anderson, and other famous actors and actresses. He first became a manager in 1882 when, with the late Col. Theodore Morris as a partner, he assumed control of The Grand Opera House in Elm Place, near Fulton Street, Brooklyn.

Six years later he opened the Amphion Theatre on Bedford Avenue in the Eastern District of Brooklyn. Mr. Knowles in 1891 became associated with Daniel Frohman and Al Hayman as Edwin Knowles and Co., and opened the Columbia Theatre on Washington Street, Brooklyn. Some time later Mr. Knowles leased the Fifth Avenue Theatre in Manhattan from Henry Miner. He continued in the management of this house for two years, when F.F. Proctor secured control of it. Since that time, Mr. Knowles has been associated with F. C. Whitney in the presentation of various theatrical productions".

AlAlvarez on April 29, 2006 at 10:46 pm

LM, it appears the Brooklyn Amphion was a major theatre since the nineteenth century with Manhattan dated talent making an appearance before leaving town. I found several NY Times stories about the shows but no mention of movies. The Williamsburg location assured the eventual tilt towards Yiddish Vaudeville and it seems it was a major drawing card.

In one story, when the femele lead failed to show up for a performance, the manager cancelled the show and refuse to pay the troupe. They promptly beat him up. You don’t need an address to figure that was Brooklyn. My Film Daily shows it was closed by 1934.

The Manhattan Amphion is more illusive.

Yes Ken. I live near Vauxhall and to NY often as I consider it home.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 30, 2006 at 4:26 am

You should be able to find more about the Brooklyn Amphion in the early issues of the Brooklyn Eagle that can be viewed via the Brooklyn Public Library website.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 30, 2006 at 6:12 am

I came across the Brooklyn Amphion theater about a year and a half ago. We discussed it in the Ridgewood theater and Madison theater sections of this website. At that time, we couldn’t determine if it ever showed movies and we just discarded it. If it is the same Amphion theater that is in the 1914-15 American Motion Picture Directory, it should have its own listing here.

Some websites give the location of the Amphion theater as Bushwick, Brooklyn. The NYC department of housing and preservation states the following:

“At the turn of the 19th century, Bushwick continued to grow as elevated trains and electric streetcars connected it to other parts of the City. A number of playhouses popped up in the area, including the Amphion Theatre, which seated 2,000 patrons. The Amphion was the first theatre in the nation with electric lights”.

The following includes an address for the Amphion theater in Brooklyn:

“The Amphion Musical Society on Oct. 1880, erected it’s building at what is now #437-441 Bedford Ave. for an opera house, opened the same year under the management of C.M. WICKE. Not being a financial success, in Jan. 1888 it was taken over by KNOWLES & MORRIS and operated as a theatre. Edward KNOWLES remaining the manager until 1897”. One site states Edwin Knowles and another calls him Edward Knowles. Its probably the same person.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 30, 2006 at 3:32 pm

Some Trivia about the Brooklyn Amphion theater.

The song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth. He wrote it for his girlfriend Katie. Norworth premiered the song during his vaudeville act at Brooklyn’s Amphion Theater. The audience did not receive it well. Norworth discarded the piece in the trunk of his car. Three months later, while performing at Hammerstein’s Victoria Theater, Norworth was amazed to learn that a number of performers had added “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” into their acts. The song that had flopped in its first performance at Brooklyn’s Amphion Theater was now a vaudeville hit. Most people only know the chorus. The following is the entire original song:

Katie Casey was baseball mad
Had the fever and had it bad
Just to root for the hometown crew
Ev’ry sou, Katie blew (A Sou was a small unit of French currency)

On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show but Miss Kate said, No!
I’ll tell you what you can do

Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out to the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack
I don’t care if I never get back

Let me root, root, root, for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out
At the old ball game

philologist on November 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Amphion Theatre, 620 9th Avenue, New York, NY.
I recall visiting the “movie house” as late as 1932. ( I was six at the time )
They were still running “silents”. As most New Yorkers know it was within the boundaries of Hells Kitchen. At the time the theatre employed a person to play a piano, located directly below the screen. It is too long to include here but he was sacked for playing songs that were inappropriate. The management ran a weekly give away. It was possible to get a complete set of China, one plate at a time.

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