Cedarhurst Playhouse

155 Spruce Street,
Cedarhurst, NY 11516

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

Here is another photo of the Cedarhurst Airdome, this from the August 2, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture Age. The operator of the Airdome, C.H. Pyatt, ran an indoor theater called the Lawrence during the winter months.

This book, The Five Towns, by Millicent Vollano, features the photo of the Airdome Warren linked to in an earlier comment, and its caption says that it opened in May, 1899, and featured vaudeville as well as movies.

The book also has a photo of the Playhouse (probably from around 1924, the year the theater opened) and says that it was located on Spruce Street. While the building does resemble the central section of the building that La Viola Restaurant now occupies, I’m sure they are not the same structure.

Both were designed in what I would consider a vaguely Mission Revival style (the book mistakenly calls the Playhouse building Art Deco, which for many people has apparently become a catch-all descriptive phrase for any theater architecture from before about 1960) and though the two buildings are similar, there are differences that could not have been remodeled away. The belief that the restaurant was formerly the Playhouse must be an erroneous local legend.

I think we can also lay to rest the idea that the Playhouse was built on the same site that the Airdome had occupied. The photo in Five Cities shows the building next door to the right of the theater and it had no resemblance to the structure adjacent to the Airdome in the Moving Picture Age photo. The building next to the Playhouse was small and flat-roofed, and looks like it was a frame structure. It also looked old enough that it would not have been a replacement for the more substantial masonry structure seen next to the Airdome in the 1913 photo.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 7, 2008 at 3:53 pm

This link has a small postcard view of a Cedarhurst Playhouse. The text mentions “Did you ever eat at "Al Steiner’s” in Cedarhurst? It was in the old Cedarhurst Playhouse on Chestnut Avenue. It is now home to “LaViola”, an italian restaurant".

Here is the website for the La Viola Restaurant. They are located at 499 Chestnut Street. The photo of the restaurant on their website looks similar to the postcard picture of the Cedarhurst Playhouse. I don’t know what to make of this. This might not mean anything but Spruce Street does intersect with Chestnut Street. Could a portion of Spruce Street have been renamed Chestnut Street? Or maybe there was a second Cedarhurst Playhouse.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm

This is a link to that photo of the Cedarhurst Airdome:
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

My address comes from playbills covering several decades in the theatre’s file at Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. The same address was also reported in news clippings about the Cedarhurst Playhouse, so I believe it to be correct. There was also once a Cedarhurst Airdome on Spruce Street, but I have not been able to find a specific number for it. It’s possible that the ground site was used for the Cedarhurst Playhouse. The airdome was not really a theatre, with just an entrance that led to an outdoor auditorium. A photo of the airdome can be found on the internet at the official website for the town of Cedarhurst, which is in Nassau County, Long Island.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Cinematour lists a Cedarhurst Playhouse at 499 Chestnut Street. Were there two of these theaters or is one of the addresses incorrect?