Majestic Theater

586 Roosevelt Avenue,
Carteret, NJ 07008

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Majestic Theatre, Carteret NJ December 2014

The Majestic Theater was opened in 1914. It was closed as a silent movie theater in the summer of 1930. The building was later converted into residential use. It was demolished in June 2015.

Contributed by mike ferenchiak

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

teecee on January 20, 2008 at 12:11 pm

see this post from the Ritz in Carteret:

It made its first appearance in Film Daily Year Books in the 1932 edition. The 1931 edition lists three theatres for Carteret— the Majestic with 500 seats, and two with no further information beyond the names of Burkley and Crescent. I suspect that the Burkley became the Ritz. The 1932 FDYB lists both the Majestic and Crescent as closed, and has nothing about the Burkley. I also wonder if “Burkley” is the correct spelling.
posted by Warren on Jun 10, 2007 at 1:58pm

teecee on November 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Photo on the front page of today’s Star Ledger.

teecee on November 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

A search of Google street view puts the building at 586 Roosevelt. The photo is much nicer than that of the Ledger, leading one to believe that this building is in rapid decline.

walterk on October 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

The Majestic was listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook with a seating capacity of 450. It was owned and operated by Maurice Spewak, who also ran the Ritz and Crescent. It never converted to talkies and my father (who would be 94 if he were still around) remembered it closing when he was a kid. Spewak btw lived in the house to the left of the theater. The entrance may look a little trashed, but the theatre itself was converted at least in part to living space several decades back, the entrance around the corner on Charles St. If you go to 586 Roosevelt Avenue on google maps, enter the street mode and go around the corner (to the left of the Majestic) onto Charles St a short distance, you can see the far back end of the theatre and conversion.

walterk on June 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Sad to report that this century old building met the proverbial wreckers ball yesterday, June 3. This was expected, it was in very bad shape, having lost its roof a while back. The Majestic closed its doors as a movie house in summer of 1930, was open around 1915 by Charles Crane Sr, a local resident who also owned the New Palace Theatre. I have a bit more history and a yarn or two about the Majestic which I will post later, some research not yet complete.

Demolished should be added to the status of this theatre.

markp on June 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm

I passed it about 2 weeks ago on my way to NYC on the bus. Gonna seem strange to see an empty lot. Looks like nothing much going on at the Ritz these days.

markp on June 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I drove by it Saturday night on my way home from an arena gig. Nothing left.

walterk on February 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

Some months back I mentioned a bit more information about the Majestic forthcoming, including research in progress. Last summer I was able to access more material that leaves me making corrections to my most recent comments last June, along with adding some new information. Regarding new material, much thanks to the Borough of Carteret’s Historical Committee which allowed me access to the collection of material they curate. This not only filled in some blanks about the Majestic and Crescent theatres, but also gave a look into the 1909-12 period when moving picture presentations, sometimes accompanied by vaudeville and illustrated songs, were presented by various exhibitors in the local public halls generally once or twice a week. I would especially like to thank Susan Wentzel and Bonnie Cooley for the time they took to assist me going through a mountain of material.

I mentioned that the Majestic opened “around” 1915. It actually makes an appearance in the 1914 city directory. An exact opening date however is unknown, but there is enough information to safely say it dates from 1914. At the time it was built, that section of Roosevelt Avenue was known as Rahway Avenue, the Majestic’s original address was 135 Rahway Avenue.

Some of my last post was based on a 1970 article about the old theatres of Carteret, with 4 residents, including the Majestic projectionist, interviewed. They mentioned the Majestic featured a 5 piece “family” band as accompaniment to the moving pictures.

The article said the Majestic was owned and operated by Charles Crane Sr, which I posted here. However, according to the 1914 city directory and one of the local newspapers of the time Joseph Crane, a local electrical contractor, was the proprietor. His home address was the building next door, which was torn down along with the theatre last June.

The article also mentioned 2 other venues Crane operated, one was identified as the Chrome theatre, located in the Chrome section of the borough. Because the article had supplied a picture of the New Palace (known as the Crescent from 1914 until 1932) and gave its Roosevelt Avenue address, I referred to it as the New Palace in my comment, figuring that residents might have referred to the theatre located in Chrome as the Chrome Theatre. Although Maurice Spewak purchased the Crescent from parties other than Crane in early 1916, I thought it possible he held an early interest.

It is unknown at this point if Crane had any interest in the Crescent. However the 1914 city directory does list a Chrome Theatre, located on Delamar Avenue. The Crescent (not listed in the directory) was located on what was then called Woodbridge Avenue. Delamar a century ago was what is today that part of Pershing Avenue located east of Roosevelt Avenue. This would have been a converted space like Crane’s other theatre, the Idle Hour, which was located across from the Majestic at 132 Rahway Avenue and most likely closed with the Majestic’s opening. That building still stands. Of the Idle Hour, very little is known. It was listed in the 1914-1915 edition of the American Motion Picture Directory and its address was associated with moving pictures in the 1914 City Directory.

In October 1916 with no fanfare, the Majestic added Sunday movies to its weekly advertisements. Within a few weeks, the Crescent also began to advertise that it was open on Sundays. New Jersey at the time had some strict blue laws, though in many cases they weren’t enforced unless there was a complaint. Sunday movies lasted 2 months before disappearing from local ads. A decade later, theatre operators in some municipalities in New Jersey were still being hauled to court for opening their doors on Sunday.

In 1921 Crane sold the Majestic to Maurice Spewak, who took over operation on Labor Day. Spewak would change his bill mostly on a daily basis and began alternating shows between the Majestic and the Crescent.

I had also heard from an older resident and wrote that the Majestic didn’t convert to sound, which doesn’t appear to be the case. The September 1, 1929 issue of the Film Daily listed the 6,037 theatres in the US that were at that point wired for sound. Of three active theatres in Carteret at the time, only the Majestic was mentioned, its system described as homemade. We know it involved the use phonograph records from a story related by Mark Pusillo that came from his Dad. Joe Pusillo was Mr. Spewak’s projectionist at the Ritz Theatre for many years and Spewak had told him of the difficulties encountered at the Majestic. Carteret had numerous factories in the 1920’s and most of the truck traffic going to and from them passed the Majestic. The largest of these would cause the building to vibrate enough to make the needle skip, throwing the soundtrack out of sync.

The Majestic closed its doors in summer of 1930, as reported in the August 25th issue of the Film Daily.

markp on February 19, 2016 at 9:45 am

Awesome work as always walterk. Thanks for taking the time to look into the history of these theatres. As I told you in the past, the only theatre I was ever involved with in Carteret was the Jerry Lewis Twin, which opened on June 7, 1972. Dad returned there to open that as its projectionist and stayed right up till the end in late 1984. Its too bad dad isn’t around or Im sure he could give you even more insight.

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