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 22 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 27, 2007 at 10:44 am

As mentioned by tapeshare, I also think the corner lot (address 3110-3112) by Hale Ave was vacant in 1926. Next to that lot was the airdome or open air theater. Next to the airdome was the enclosed Norwood Theater. The 1929 c/o is for an altered building used as a skating rink. I believe that the skating rink was the one story building that used the vacant corner lot and the lot previously occupied by the airdome. Why wouldn’t the c/o state new building instead of altered? The one story building was considered an add-on or extension of the theater building. The theater building could have been used as the entrance to the skating rink. Its like adding a room onto your house. The build date of your house would remain the same.

The open air theater could have been nothing more than a fenced in area with seats or even benches where movies were shown in the hot weather.

I’m still curious if this theater was operating prior to 1926 because the 1926 c/o shows an existing building at that time instead of a new building. An opening day article or ad would answer that question. Since the theater building still exists, its possible that the Department of Buildings would have a copy of the original c/o for a new building at that location. That c/o is not available online. You would have to go to the D.O.B. and request a search of the block and lot number and pay a fee.

BrooklynJim on January 29, 2007 at 1:56 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 on January 29, 2007 at 2:57 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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 31, 2007 at 1:41 pm

I found two building permits issued for new buildings at this location.

NB 7864 NEW BUILDING 11/14/1914
NB 5947 NEW BUILDING 12/11/1914

One permit could be for the indoor and the other for the outdoor theater. If the permits aren’t for the theater buildings, then there were other buildings located here prior to the theater buildings. Something was built there in 1914-15. If those permits are for the theater, it might be listed in the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915. Anyway, those are the permit numbers to erect new buildings. Maybe they will help you to track down an original c/o.

tapeshare on February 1, 2007 at 3:59 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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 1, 2007 at 2:28 pm

A map that identifies the building would be a big help. With the evidence we have so far, it appears that the 1914-15 permit (issued in November and December so the building probably wasn’t completed until 1915) was for the theater/bowling alley building. If a new building was built in 1915 and then replaced in 1926, another permit would have been issued in 1926. I have not found any later permits for a new building at that location. Also, the 1926 c/o reads “existing” building. Either the theater was purpose built as a theater in 1915, or the 1915 building was later converted to a theater. Thats how I see it with the information available now.

BrooklynJim on February 15, 2007 at 11:53 am

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 on February 15, 2007 at 12:34 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 on June 14, 2011 at 4:53 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 3:06 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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