Congress Theatre

328 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 27, 2016 at 6:59 pm

The Congress Theatre occupied a building originally erected around 1870 for the Congress Hall Ballroom, an adjunct of the Congress Hall Hotel located across Spring Street. A cast iron bridge connected the two buildings at the second floor. When the hotel was demolished in 1912, the ballroom continued to operate as a dance hall until 1919, when it was converted into the Congress Theatre.

Although equipped for moving pictures, the attraction at the Congress Theatre’s gala opening on August 21, 1919, was the Arthur Hammerstein-produced musical comedy Somebody’s Sweetheart, performed by the original New York cast.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Linkrot repair: The before and after photos in Boxoffice of the Congress Theatre, remodeled in 1937, can now be seen at this link.

mmarovitch on December 31, 2013 at 9:43 am

My earliest memory ( early 60’s) of the congress theater was that it was closed, and then I remember it opening as the Chinese restaurant, the house Of Gee. My mom and dad took me to eat there one night and I finally got to see what it looked like inside.

DaleJ on May 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

As a kid I remember the Congress Theater sitting on the corner of Broadway and Spring St across from the old library, later it became the House Of Gee which was a chinese restaurant and they use the old huge marquee sign to advertise their restaurant, and I had many fun times at the Community Threater seeing movies and even live shows….

CSWalczak on July 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Here is a picture of the Congress from a recent article about theaters in Saratoga Springs that appeared in the Times Union.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on January 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Is this building really the Congress Theatre or is it some other unknown theatre? The address I have for the Congress was 328 Broadway, but the building above clearly shows an address of 260 Broadway.

mdelfs on September 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

You can see some photos of the remains of the theatre today…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

The Congress Theatre was remodeled about the time Reade bought it. There are before-and-after photos in Boxoffice of January 8, 1938. The design was by architect William H. Vaughan.

Vaughan, incidentally, was named for his grandfather, who had also been an architect and had designed a number of important buildings in Saratoga Springs, including the United States Hotel.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2009 at 1:46 am

If somebody wants to add the Community Theatre, it was a Thomas Lamb design. A brief item about Reade’s intention to build the house appeared in Boxoffice, December 26, 1936. The item is on the left page, about the middle of the middle column.

An August 7, 1937, Boxoffice item says this about the Congress Theatre: “Within a week after the opening of his new Community here, Walter Reade announced that he has purchased for $200,000 cash the Congress Theatre and office building which, when he takes possession late this fall, will give him two first-run theatres in this famed city of horse racing.”

stuartwsa on November 4, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Luis: I have a few memories of it as a child. It had a spare, modern feel to it, with a big heavy set of velvet drapes. And I seem to recall a large neon clock over one of the exit doors, just to the left of the stage.
We have a large repository of historical photographs at our local history museum here in Saratoga Springs. I do have two copies of photos of the interior of the Congress Theater (neither showing the organ, unfortunately). I will check to see if they have any photos of the interior of the Community Theater.

LuisV on November 4, 2008 at 10:46 am

This message is for Stuartwsa…..I think we may have discovered an unlisted theater. If the theater that I saw is The Community Theatre as you say than it needs to be added as a new theater as there is none posted under that name on CT. I also didn’t find it under the name “Bijou” which is on the front of this handsome structure over the entrance. Besides the fact that it was opened in 1937, do you have any additional information on this theater? number of seats? Style?

stuartwsa on August 5, 2008 at 7:24 pm

The theater that you saw in Saratoga Springs is the Community Theater. It opened in 1937. The Congress and The Community were owned by the same man. It closed in the late ‘70s. As far as I know, The Community never had an organ.
The Congress was down at the other end of Broadway. The building is still there, although the front has been renovated, and there is no sign of the theater entrance any more. I’ve heard that part of the theater still exists, buried deep inside. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any plans to save or preserve it.
I remember that during the '60s, The Congress had become The House Of Gee, a Chinese restaurant. The theater was completely intact at that point, save for the seats. The tables were placed where the seats had been. As a little kid, I remember having to use the bathroom, which was on the second floor. It was a huge bathroom, complete with Art Deco fixtures. It made quite an impression!

LuisV on July 29, 2007 at 7:39 pm

I just came back from a weekend trip to Saratoga Springs and noticed a movie ticket booth in front of a retail establishment on Broadway. When I stepped back I realized that this building very much used to be be a very handsome theater. The exterior has been beautifully preserved and the ticket booth has been incorporated as a display case for the store. The building has two beautiful white columns. Above the columns written into building is “Bijou”. Was this a subsequent name for the Congress Theater or is this another theater? I’m afraid I don’t remember the actual address or the name of the retail establishment. I assumed that such a prominent building that had obviously been a theater would already be posted on CT with all of the requisite informantion. I’m sorry I wasn’t more thorough. If anyone else has any more info I’d love to read it!

p.s. It was night time when I saw the theater and it did not appear that any of the interior was saved based on what I could see from the street, but I could be wrong.