Loew's Bijou Theatre

26 Smith Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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View from stage of the original 1893 auditorium

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Bijou Theatre first opened in November, 1893, as a playhouse under the direction of H.C. Kennedy. Due to its convenient location in downtown Brooklyn, the Bijou Theatre proved an instant success and soon became one of the most profitable theatres in the entire USA. When the ailing Kennedy retired in 1900, he sold the Bijou Theatre to Hyde & Behman, which operated it for a time and then leased to the Spooner Repertory Company. In 1908, Marcus Loew, encouraged by his success of his first Brooklyn theatre, the Royal Theatre, took over the Bijou Theatre and converted it to movies with vaudeville. Architect Thomas Lamb carried out some alterations in 1912.

The Royal Theatre and Bijou Theatre became second-run situations after Loew built the much larger and grander Metropolitan Theatre in the same area. Loew’s Bijou Theatre operated until 1929, when Loew’s replaced it by taking over the better equipped Keeney’s Theatre and re-naming it the Loew’s Melba Theatre.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 22, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I finally found a closing date for Loew’s Bijou of May 26th, 1929. The final program included the all-talking feature, “Hearts in Dixie,” and short subjects. Loew’s had negotiated an early end to its operating lease, which was due to expire in 1930. The Bijou Theatre and adjoining property were actually owned by the estate of Louis Wechsler, which sold them in December, 1928, to the National Real Estate Corporation for redevelopment, according to press reports at the time. Loew’s continued to operate the Metropolitan and Melba in downtown Brooklyn, and later in 1929 would open two new thatres elsewhere in Brooklyn— the Kings in Flatbush and Pitkin in Brownsville.

erikf on July 24, 2008 at 5:59 am

Here is the pay New York Times link of the 1928 sounding of the death-knell for the Bijou.
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Here’s an undated exterior view, proably taken some time after the Bijou’s 1929 closing: View link 365

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Here’s a new link to an 1899 view of the auditorium. Only vaudeville and plays were presented, and Marcus Loew was still years away from taking over the management:
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm

A poster for Loew’s Bijou can be seen in the upper right corner of this vintage photo: View link 77

AlAlvarez on December 29, 2009 at 11:32 pm

What do you mean? Bijou is one of the most common theatre names in American history.

There have been “Bijou” theatres in New York since the birth of film, four in Manhattan alone.

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