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 66 comments)

GaryCohen on December 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I was thinking about my above comment about never seeing anything very good or memorable at the Kenmore and I vaguely remembered seeing “From Russia With Love” there. Since this is one of my 5 favorite Bonds, I take back my previous statement.
I did read the previous statements about the eventual fate of the Kenmore and what it deteriorated into and it saddened me. It is so depressing what happens to these beautiful theaters when the ethnic makeup of the area changes. I grew up in East New York and I never really saw my local theaters, the Biltmore and the Kinema, go down the drain since my friends and I had already graduated into going to see movies at “Showcase” theaters in Downtown Brooklyn, Flatbush Avenue and Manhattan. And I stopped going to beautiful theaters like the Loews Kings, RKO Albee and Loews Metropolitan when the areas started changing and getting more dangerous. However I remember being Downtown Brooklyn for some reason in the 1970s and seeing the Albee reduced to showing 2 Kung-fu films. They did not even have a 1 sheet poster for these films so a little ad from the newspaper was cut out and put under the glass where the poster should have been. Utterly pathetic. The picture of the Loews Pitkin from 1970 showing this glorious, mini-Radio City showing 2 low-grade Japanese horror films was sad also.
But even sadder were the stories of murders, metal-detectors, bullet holes and barbed wire at the Kenmore. I have the utmost contempt for the naive, pathetic jerks who actually defend and rationalize this barbaric behavior. And I have little pity on those in the area who allow this type of behavior to take place and then cry and whine to the media about not having anyplace to see a movie when the theater finally gives up and just shuts down. Too damn bad for you.

Bway on July 27, 2010 at 7:50 am

Does any ornamentation of the theater remain inside? I would like to visit the Models store to see the inside, but won’t bother if there’s nothing worth seeing inside.

Astyanax on July 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I happened to walk by the Kenmore site a couple of weeks ago. The temperature was soaring and I missed walking past a theater lobby and getting a blast of cold air. What a pity that the Flatbush movie palaces are all shuttered, although there is slim hope for the Loews Kings. The urban turmoil of the ‘70’s was a major contributor to the demise of these theaters and although it is easy to blame population shifts and major crime, we also have to consider the lack of product. Apart from the occasional Star Wars / Lady Sings the Blues / French Connection / James Bond movies, Hollywood (and the breakdown of the studio system) could not come up with enough product to consistently sustain these venues. The blax-sploitation flicks and the kung fu movies were sure to attract the very element that would want to act-out the violence and the mayhem represented on screen. With the increased availability and affordability of air conditioning and color TV, why go out. All in all, I could have dashed into Models for a quick respite from the blistering heat.

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.

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