2101 Church Avenue,
11 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: Cineplex Odeon, Keith-Albee, RKO
Architects: Eugene DeRosa
Previous Names: Keith-Albee Kenmore Theatre, B.F. Keith's Kenmore Theatre, RKO Kenmore Theatre
Opened as the Keith-Albee Kenmore Theatre on 17th September 1928, this cavernous 3,025-seat movie house. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 17 ranks organ. The auditorium ceiling had a 60ft wide dome. Murals on the side-walls were by artist Willy Pogany, who also painted the murals in the Beacon Theatre, Manhattan. It played a mix of vaudeville & movies until 1932 when it went over to an all movies policy. It later became the RKO Kenmore Theatre and was chopped up into four screens in mid-1978. The Wurlitzer organ was removed to a private dwelling in Babylon, NY, and later to another private dwelling in Erie, PA. In 2011 it was purchased by the Paramount Theatre Cedar Rapids, Iowa to replace their Wurlitzer organ which has been damaged in 2008 floods.
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 theatre 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 completely gutted and the stores that bordered the theatre building have also been hollowed out. The theatre became Modell’s sports clothing store. By 2022 it was a Target store.
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Recent comments (view all 76 comments)
British art film “PRIVILEGE” played at the Kenmore?
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
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…
I am looking for any and all pics of this theater from a front view from the 30-60’s. My mom’s family had a store above called Kenmore Weavers and I would like to see if I can find a pic of it Thanks for any help anyone can provide
Lived briefly in the area and saw Lady Sings the Blues in its showcase run. Regretfully, didn’t have a chance to admire the sumptuousness of the theatre, not realizing that it would be my one and only visit.
I just added a 1941 photo of the Kenmore to the gallery, it’s showing an earlier E. Flynn film, Dive Bomber. The picture is a NYC Tax Photo.
is the comment “the theater rapidly deteriorated” after the late80s/early90s renovations referring to the physical condition of the theater or the to be frank the quality of the patrons?
The RKO Kenmore and Loew’s Kings were always considered the two leading cinemas in Flatbush, but the Kenmore is listed here as located in Prospect Park South. And why isn’t the Kings listed as a “nearby” theatre? It was certainly closer to the Kenmore than the Savoy.
Comfortably cool. As I remarked on another theater site, the Nearby feature of CT is far from reliable and there is no point in questioning it.
They just turned this into a Target but kept the outer marquee part a little. https://www.instagram.com/p/CgE6dlqOy84/