Wilson Theatre

27 Lee Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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johndereszewski on March 25, 2012 at 10:34 am

The Brownstoner recently printed an interesting and comprehensive review of the site of this theater’s history. The article is linked below.

Hope you enjoy it – and hope the link works.

{view link}(http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2012/03/building-of-the-day-27-lee-avenue/#more-87529)

Asbags on June 21, 2011 at 7:37 am

Hi, all…..I introduced the Wilson Theater to Cinema Treasures several years ago when nobody could remember it ever existed. I went to P.S. 16 and used to walk past the closed theater every day. I called the Jewish Book Store next to the Synagogue and spoke to someone who told me that the floor in the Synagogue was being replaced because it slopped forward. That bit of information and a Google Earth view of the building showing what appeared to be a typical movie theater roof, cinched the fact that the Synagogue used to be a movie theater. I am soo happy that others are still talking about the theater. I would suggest that you view all the comments going back to the beginning or several years worth. It is interesting and worthwhile. Asbags

CConnolly1 on February 4, 2011 at 4:39 am

View link

Came across this image from the Museum of the City of NY website. Hope the link works but if not, they’ve got a nice collection. The caption under the photo reads “Interior of Corse Payton’s Theater showing the audience at full capacity.” Year is 1902

jtp on September 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

certificates of occupancy through the years.

capacity of 800+ up to at least 1959. After that there is a C of O for a capacity of 325 from 1962, but that may or may not be for the same structure.

View link

From aerial shots it is definitely still the same building on that lot, but who knows what the interior has become.

View link

My guess would be that a major alteration took place sometime after 1959 and much of the theater was carved up into classrooms. If I spoke yiddish or hebrew I might try to sweet talk my way in there to check it out!

jtp on September 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

working link to historic interior photos…

View link

michelemarie on January 2, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Dear Smoky, Where on Rutledge Street did you live. My Aunt Nancy Russo and her children Eugene, Gary and Sally lived between Marcy and Lee Avenue and my Friend Virginia Molloy lived on Rutledge in the Apartment house between Lee and Bedford near Schlensky’s Drug Store on Lee Ave. Do you remember Faust Ice Cream parlor on Bedford and Rutledge.During the 50’s and all of us went to the Model Movie house on Lee Avenue. Then we went to the Commodore on Broadway. I lived on Penn Street between Bedford and Whythe Ave. I surely remember hYMIES. You have to remember Kraemer’s Bakery on Penn and Lee. If you get this, e-mail me at and we can talk about the good old days in Williamsburgh. Happy New Year Smoky.

Martym on December 29, 2006 at 9:20 am

I lived on Rutledge St. from 1933-1955. The movie house that we went to was the Model Theater on Lee Ave. I think that it was closer to Hooper or Hewes St. One could rent a 2 wheel bike from Hymies for 10 cents for an hour and that included a clip for your pants cuff. There was a fresh fish store on Lee ave. where my mother would buy a live fish on Thurs or Fri for the weekend. These are great memories. In virginia Beach, where I now live, real sour pickles are a rarity.I always say that I wasn’t born in NY but in Brooklyn.

michelemarie on December 6, 2006 at 11:18 am

Dear Hannah, you are absoulely correct is is Division Ave. I was born and raised in Williamsburgh in 1945.I Lived on Penn Street and Bedford Ave. I remember Hymie’s Carriage and Bicicle Store right next door to the old Wilson Theater. The building was boarded up by the time I could remember And the public school across the street. We used to call it Wilson Park and go there quite often. I also remeber Clymer Street that was where the old 90 Precient was. I also remember 2 Beauty Parlor’s on Division Ave right across from the precient house on Clymer Don’s Beauty Parlor which became Bella’s Beauty Parlor when Don retired and sold to Bella. Toby was the manicurist and electorsist there. Glamour Beauty Parlor was around
the corner on Roebeling Street next to a Jewish Deli. Lee ave was a bunch of stores esc=peciall Flaum’s Appetiser store—great pickles There were a few candy stores on Lee Ave also. Shapiro’s on Lee and Hooper St. Another candy store across the street from Shapiro’s. Bill’s candy store on Penn and Lee and Lippy’s Candy store on Lee and Rutledge Street. As kids we went to all of them. Also the bakery called Kramer’s on Penn and Lee Avenue. They are all gone now. I had an opportunity to be in the neighborhood last year with my Daughter and gave her a tour of the old place, much to my dismay all the memories of my childhood are now just memories except my old school which was Transfiguration on Marcy Avenue and Hooper Street. I stiol have a Dear friend who lives on Hewes Street and we went to school together and we talk often about the old days, and the old moviehouses which are now extinct. Anniegirl

ARTISTHANNAH on December 5, 2006 at 5:57 pm


ARTISTHANNAH on December 5, 2006 at 5:53 pm


declair on October 2, 2006 at 10:19 am

I have some information on the history of this site. With the help of Sanborn Insurance Maps (confirmed by photos), the building that is there is not from the 19th century, as KenRoe has already said at flickr.com. A 1914 map, which was updated (by pasting changes over the original) up to 1933, shows a vacant lot. Roebling didn’t used to go over to Lee. Lee was solid from Wilson (which wasn’t changed from “Hamburg” during WWI, by the way) to Division St. The older building was surely torn down when the street was built, and given the shape of the current building following the new street line, was followed soon by new construction in 1919. It was Payton’s Theater in 1904 (according to a map of that date), and was very likely still the remodelled Lee Ave. Baptist Church at that point. The Lee Ave. Academy followed the church, and Payton came after that.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 11, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Here are a couple of recent(June 2006) photographs I took of the Roebling/Wilson Theatre:

Bway on June 19, 2006 at 5:12 am

I believe it’s Bushwick.

louieb on April 22, 2006 at 7:10 am

dear lovetheoldtheaters, where is stockton street? is it in Ridgewood? and the Rogers theatre on broadway where on Broadway? I remember the Gates Moviehouse but never went there. I also remember the Alba Theater on Flushing Ave across from the White Tower resturant. I went to White Tower with my dad and watched the short order cook those tiny hamburgers with little chopped onions and pickle, not to be confused by White Castle (UH) horrible burgers. The Alba went Spanish Language theater when I was a Kid so I could not go there. Anniegirl louieb’s wife. posted by louieb on Apr 22, 2006

Goodheart on April 21, 2006 at 6:47 pm

Warren, believe it or not I knew Corse Payton’s widow Henrietta Corse Brown Payton. She was a lovely woman, crippled in a wheelchair, and lived across from me on Stockton St. in Brooklyn.
I use to help her out by doing deeds around the house and walking her dog. I also took her to the Rogers Theatre on Broadway, pushing her there in the wheelchair.
She was also a stage actress, and showed me many stills from her plays, and some of her husband. It was very interesting.
I recall those days fondly.


louieb on April 21, 2006 at 4:52 pm

dear Lost Memory, that’s right I used to go to the Jewish Deli on Roebeling between Division Ave and South 9th Street.My dentist Dr. Levine was on Roebeling and South 9th Street. I also went to Don’s Beauty Parlor right across the street from the 90th Police station house on Clymer Street. Don’s became Bella’s Beauty Salon in 1963 after don sold the place. By that time the Wilson was all closed and forgotten about except a few of us who only saw the old building which was not a movie any longer. Anniegirl.
posted by louieb on Apr 21, 2006

louieb on April 21, 2006 at 7:46 am

Lost Memory this is Anniegirl wife of louieb who grew up in Williamsburg Brooklyn 1945-1970. OK the wilson was already closed with billboards up and upon looking at the site is is now closed and i guess the building is used for something else now. Anniegirl wife of louieb. posted by louieb Apr 21 2006

jflundy on April 21, 2006 at 5:43 am

Regarding name “Wilson” and theater with El train running through balcony:

Wilson Aveneue was Hamburg Avenue until war hysteria in 1917, fanned by intense proaganda in press and films, caused it to be renamed Wilson Avenue after our then President. Many businesses were renamed but not the Hamburg Savings Bank. Sourkraut became Liberty Cabbage and Frankfurters and Weiners were were verboten.

Fulton Street El east of Flatbush had a movie theater with a support column sticking through the marquee as the EL passed so close to the balcony. It was removed when the former BRT/BMT El was torn down in 1941 along with the trolley line under it and replaced by BOT Buses.

louieb on April 21, 2006 at 3:26 am

Bway. Did you go on the website i mentioned to you above is that the location of the Payton’s Lee Avenue theatre? I thought the name was the Wilson? or is it Payton’s Lee Ave theatre? I don’t know. Anniegirl louieb’s wife. posted by louieb on Apr 21 2006

Bway on April 20, 2006 at 4:04 pm

Louie, I know that trolleys are different than el or subway trains, but there was no el or subway near where the Payton’s Lee Avenue Theatre (the theater under discussion that was demolished) was, to my knowledge, only trolleys.

louieb on April 20, 2006 at 10:04 am

Bway see the thread of Asbag dated Apr 10th. I went on that website and it is the same building that I am referring to and looking at the building to your right is the carriage store that my parents bought my bicycle. I lived on Penn Street and Bedford Ave a short trip 1 block to Lee Ave and left walk up to Roebeling Street. So that has to be the remains of the old Roebeling/ Wilson theater. Anniegirl.
posted by louieb on Apr 20th, 2006

louieb on April 20, 2006 at 9:53 am

trolley and BMT lines are different right. Trolley’s are Electric Buses. The only BMT line is the J and M trains that run along Broadway. The Wilson theater was on Roebling and Lee Avenue’s. When I was growing up in Williamsburgh in the 50’s , the movie was already closed and billboards were up all over the movie wall. Hymies Carriage and Bicycle store was next to the movie house. and the Public School playground is across the street. Anniegirl louieb’s wife. posted by louieb Apr 20th 2006

Bway on April 20, 2006 at 7:38 am

No el….only a trolley. To my knowledge no BMT subway or el ever went through that area. Only the trolleys which may just be what it was…..or not.

Bway on April 20, 2006 at 6:27 am

That means it wasn’t an el or a subway line, but an old trolley line.

Bway on April 20, 2006 at 6:27 am

I think I found the answer, there was a trolley line on Lee that split at Roebling to Driggs forming a loop at Williamsbridge Plaza. Another line came from Marcy onto Division Ave at that intersection.