Amphion Theatre

437 Bedford Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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Situated on Bedford Avenue between Division and South Ninth Streets in Williamsburg, the Amphion Theatre first opened in the 1880’s with operas and “high-class” dramas. It eventully fell on hard times and became a cinema in the silent era.

When demolished in 1940 by the NYC Housing Authority as part of a slum-clearing project, the Amphion Theatre was reported to have been shuttered for at least ten years.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 28, 2007 at 3:37 am

The Amphion Theatre is listed in the American Motion Picture Directory;1914-1915 edition, but has gone from listings in the 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 28, 2007 at 5:59 am

The Amphion is listed in the 1927 edition of the NY Film Board of Trade’s Directory of Motion Picture Theatres, but not thereafter. It was probably too antiquated for conversion to talkies.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on June 30, 2009 at 6:16 am

A little tidbit about this long forgotten theater appears in today’s NYT on page A15. The article says that “In 1908, baseball’s greatest hit, ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ … made its debut at the Amphion, an opera house on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn”.

Since, as Warren noted, the Amphion began its life as a high class venue and only became a cinema after experiencing “hard times”, it probably was functioning as an “opera house” – or something close to it – in 1908.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on July 1, 2009 at 3:05 am

Thanks for the comment LM. It’s good to see your notes appended to the right theater.

Regarding “Take Me Out Yo The Ballgame’s” initial reception, I guess you can say that if you CAN’T make it in Booklyn you CAN make it everywhere else!

While, as per the Building Dept. on-line files, the site is currently vacant – and appears to have been vacant since the 1940’s – I doubt that an Urban Renewal project had anything to do with this. Until the 1970’s, when the area, which is known as the Southside Triangle, deteriorated badly, there was no governmental presence in this area. This was cetainly not the case just a block or so to the south, where massive urban renewal projects radically transformed the entire neighborhood. Recently, the Southside Triangle has made something of a come back, and some new development may very well be coming to the old Amphion site. In any event, I will try to visit this site as soon as I can.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on July 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I visited the old Amphion today and have a lot to report.

The site of the old theater is now part of the Bedford Playground, a NYC Dept. of Parks site that has served the community since the early 1960’S. Prior to that, it was a vacant lot owned by the Schaeffer Brewery. Since the beermakers wanted to consolidate their business development on a river-front site that was designated for a park, they traded the park-property for this site. Thus, that is how the old theater became a part of an active playground.

This is something that you have to visit in order to know what had occurred. Viewing the Building Dept. on-line items, you would think that this property never became City-owned – much less converted to a municipal park. But this just underlines the limitations of trusting what you see on the internet!

I hope the Parks Department will add the baseball revelations to its description of this site.

Bway
Bway on July 4, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Thanks for all your information John! Very interesting…

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 5, 2009 at 7:33 am

An article, which I can’t link, that J.F. Lundy posted on the RKO Greenpoint page yesterday, lists McElfatrick and Sons as the Amphion’s architect. This information should be added to the top of this page.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 5, 2009 at 7:38 am

Here is the Greenpoint’s CT page. The article referenced above was JF’s final posting for 12/4/09.

/theaters/4136/

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 5, 2009 at 7:43 am

Sorry, the link was JF’s next to the last posting. This is the article dated in 1902.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 6, 2009 at 7:17 am

Thanks so much for the quick response to my suggestion. The knowledge that McElfatrick’s firm designed the Amphion underlines the “high class” status it enjoyed in its early years.

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