Kenmore Theatre

2101 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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RKO Kenmore Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Keith-Albee Kenmore Theatre on 17th September 1928, this cavernous movie house later became the RKO Kenmore Theatre and was chopped up into four screens in the early-1970’s.

The Kenmore Theatre was a popular place for films like “Superman”, “Star Wars”, and “Flash Gordon”, and was renovated in the late-1980’s/early-1990’s.

Despite the work, the theater rapidly deteriorated and became the scene of a violent gang shooting in an argument over a seat.

The theatre was shuttered by the N.Y.P.D. in 1999 after a screening of “The Matrix” (or “Life”). It was put up for sale after a year of sitting dormant.

The interior is now completly gutted and the stores that bordered the theatre building have also been hollowed out. The theatre is now a Modell’s sports clothing store.

Contributed by John Chappell, Jamal Savage

Recent comments (view all 69 comments)

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

This nighttime photograph of the Kenmore Theatre was taken in 1931 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

PeteMarriott on April 1, 2012 at 7:53 am

I used to go to the RKO Kenmore as a child in the 70’s and 80’s. If I had Tens of millions of Dollars to spare I’d buy Modells out and rebuild the theater as a community landmark project. It’s sad it closed down the way it did but it’s even more sad what replaced it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I always loved that style of letters on the this RKO theater. I first saw them when I was 10 while waiting outside a bank for my grandmother to complete her business. (Reflections in a Golden Eye was playing…I finally saw it years later, and oh, boy, would that have changed my life if I’d seen it at that tender age!!) It was love at first sight for those block letters. I think the Kenmore used them all the way to its closing, but I’m not sure.

LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

On Friday 23 February 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at RKO Kenmore. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance! I already have an image of the full size poster for this show.

Tordini on April 29, 2013 at 1:12 am

it was that LUGOSI poster that sent me here!

theatrefan on February 6, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Yes, they had the same RKO block letters on the theatre marquee when they closed this theatre in 1999. White letters on a black background. They titles of the films were still visible years after that, before they started to gut the place inside. I was inside recently, it does not look like there is anything left.

Moose on May 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

I worked here for several week in the fall of 1967. Hired by to be a theatre manager. The Kenmore was a beautiful theatre. What I remember most is the movie “Privilege” being shown and a couple asking for a refund, and I accommodated them as they had just recently arrived. Privilege is definitely an unique movie that can be viewed on You Tube.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 30, 2015 at 8:27 pm

British art film “PRIVILEGE” played at the Kenmore?

shorty11 on July 27, 2015 at 2:42 am

moose i was a kid at the capitol and we were there every saturday , there was a movie dont think it was a karate movie , yet i can recall there were women who wore chastity belts and they would expolde if a man tried to remove them by any chance do you remember the title of that movie , had to be about 77 or 78

jinchelsea on October 4, 2015 at 8:38 am

I was an usher, relief cashier and doorman, and eventually a phone receptionist in the mid-1960s. A fascinating building, still holding all the backstage stuff and dressing rooms all over the theatre for when it had been a vaudeville house earlier in the century. You always knew where the local cops were if there was a problem; the cops had their own “cards and beer” room in an old dressing room at the top of the theatre, where they hung out every day.

Being an old theatre, nothing was automatic, including the screen and the curtain, and as an usher, we had to close the curtain after each film (we were still in the days of double features) and actually adjust the size of the screen for widescreen (Panavision had pretty much replaced Cinemascope by then, but same idea) and the old 4:3 size. The old vaudeville signs on each side of the stage, which had been used to announce each act, were still visible but no longer in use. Some times I would be on the pay phone talking to a friend on the mezzanine level, and would forget to open the curtain or adjust the screen when the film began!

As an usher, mostly in the balcony, I had to make sure that two customers were NOT sitting in one seat, and when they were, I had to quietly go up to them with my flashlight and ask them to stop (lol, as if) and it was not unusual to find used condoms and wrappers on the floor! And yes, we sold separate loge tickets upstairs on Saturday nights, and I’m not too sure that the extra 25 cents always made its way down to the office…

Finally I was promoted to a “desk job,” where I spent the time answering the phone (Good evening, RKO Kenmore, may I help you?). By this point in time, autoanswerers were already in fashion, so people were surprised to hear a human voice on the line. Most were appropriate calls, some cranks or kid pranks or heavy breathers, and some people called every day because they were lonely. I was also given the chance to rifle through the file drawers, loaded with posters and stills from earlier films, when theatres actually used “ballyhoo” or in-house advertising and made up their own signs and posters from the ad materials provided by the distributor. This was how I really started my career as a poster collector, which has grown to over 5,000 posters, but that’s another story…

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