Norwood Theatre

3118 Fulton Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11208

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This small neighborhood theatre in the northeastern corner of Brooklyn took its name from nearby Norwood Avenue, and first opened in 1914. Closed in 1928, the Norwood Theatre was converted into a roller skating rink in August 1929.

As the Depression intensified, the theatre was converted into Hale Bowling Lanes, according to a spokesman for a website dedicated to the East New York/Cypress Hills area.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

tapeshare
tapeshare on January 26, 2007 at 6:22 pm

I can add that the 1929 plat maps show the corner as empty
and the adjacent structure on Fulton all as one tax lot,
Block 3960 lot 21. The structure, which starts 102 feet in on
Fulton off of Hale, is marked “Theater”. My theory is that they
add on to the theater in 1929 with the one story brick structure and
it starts life as a roller rink. The earliest ad I have for the
bowling alley dates to 1938 and advertises only 10 lanes. In 1944
they expand, hence the new CO. If anyone recalls Hale Lanes the
lanes ran parallel to Hale, not Fulton, so it was potentially a
major renovation. The building still stands in its entirety, you
can see it on my site at http://www.tapeshare.com/Hale.html

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on January 27, 2007 at 10:57 am

Fascinating research by tapeshare & LM. Only one thing threw me from the days I used Hale Lanes, c. 1958-65: “…the lanes ran parallel to Hale, not Fulton, so it was potentially a major renovation.” Yes, the structure had an L shape, but I recall that the entrance was on Hale and that the lanes were perpendicular to Hale. When expansion took place beyond the original 10, the owners added lanes toward Atlantic Ave.

My memories about this could very well be clouded and wrong. Speaking only for myself, the surprisingly good Hale Lanes pix on tapeshare’s ENY site added even more mystery than revelation and recollection!

[Sidenote to tapeshare: there was a combo billiard parlor and a 4 lane alley on Fulton St. just under the Alabama Ave. el station in the late ‘50s. I doubt if anyone living there now would even remember that specific hole-in-the-wall dive, but someday a pic of it – and one of the Norwood – might just be unearthed from someone’s dusty, musty vaults. Hope does spring eternal to historians.]

tapeshare
tapeshare on January 27, 2007 at 11:32 am

That would be the Gotham Lanes, Brooklyn Jim. My Uncle actually
worked as a Pinboy there in the 1930s when pinsetting was manual.
Unfortunately because it was under the El the tax photo of the
location is completely immersed in shadow. The original Gotham
Theater, one block over, used to have lanes but they were destroyed in a fire. I have provided a lot of that history under the Gotham
Theater entry for this site. At one point there was the Gotham
Theater (building gone) Gotham Hotel (still standing) and the
Gotham Lanes (Not sure). I assume there was an ownership connection
but I have no details.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on January 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm

You two never cease to amaze me! LM has become a living annex to the buildings code division, and tapeshare is probably the only guy alive in the NYC area who not only remembers the name of the bowling/billiards combo dive, a relic from the depression years, but also the Gotham Theater a block away! Whoa, bro! You are GOOD! :)

I did jump over to read up on the Gotham page. I had NO idea it had ever existed, yet I’d passed that site, with or without a building or theater, on the old #15 train (now the J) and the old B-56 Jamaica bus (now Q-56) from Van Sinderen Ave. many, many times between 1957 and 1978. Will check my ancient Red Books for any additional info on this. I’ll post it on the Gotham page if successful.

tapeshare
tapeshare on January 29, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Brooklyn Jim for the kind words and any information you
can dig up. I did confirm the building that housed the Gotham
Lanes is gone, the area is now a parking lot for the Wartburg
Home for the Aged which is a block in the other direction.

Does anyone know if the Brooklyn Eagle would have carried ads
for those local theaters in the 1920s? That would be one source
to check on the existence and dates for the Norwood.

tapeshare
tapeshare on February 1, 2007 at 6:59 am

Thanks LM. The insurance maps show there was a wood frame structure
back in 1908 on that lot so that sounds like the replacement. I'll
see if I can find a map between 1914 and 1925 that might indicate
the use of the building.

Brooklyn Jim, I spoke with my uncle on the Gotham Lanes; It was a
16 Lane facility, with 4 lanes upstairs with the billiard tables
and 12 downstairs. That was in 1943, so its possible in your time
they didn’t use the downstairs. My uncle claims the owner told him
at one time there was an outdoor bowling facility across the
street though looking at old maps I can’t figure out where it
would have been. He also mentioned the Gotham Lanes was a hangout
for number runners and other seedy elements. He was working there
underage because everyone 18 and over was off in the armed services.
Colorful stuff.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on February 15, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Alas, no new info surfaced for either the Norwood or the Gotham, tapeshare. Will try to interview some locals and revisit both sites on my next visit during the spring thaw.

Sidenote: the 12 basement lanes of Gotham may have been sealed off or completely demolished when I last bowled there in 1960. As for “number runners and other seedy elements” in that part of ENY, not much has changed in almost an entire century. LOL!

tapeshare
tapeshare on February 15, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Thanks Brooklyn Jim. I did discover one tidbit on the Gotham; Mae West performed there as a teenager in Hal Clarendon’s stock theater company back in 1907. As far as the Norwood, I am going to try to
track down some theater ads and also check the development maps
over at the NY Public Library.

Bway
Bway on June 14, 2011 at 7:53 am

This theater is NOT demolished, and that should be removed. The theater building is still there, and is being used as a Bargain Store.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 5, 2012 at 6:06 am

The September 6, 1913, issue of Real Estate Record and Builders Guide said that architect L. F. Schillinger was taking bids for a brick motion picture theater to be built for Edward Butt and Henry Freise. The 45x113-foot building was to be on the south side of Fulton Street, 57 feet east of Hale Avenue. That’s the location of the Norwood Theatre, but the date doesn’t match up with the November, 1914, building permits mentioned in previous comments. If the project was delayed for a year, it’s possible that Schillinger’s original plans were abandoned.

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