Liberty Theatre

61 Liberty Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11212

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The Liberty Theatre was located in the Brownsville district of Brooklyn, around ten blocks east of Loew’s Pitkin Theatre. It had a second entrance on Stone Avenue. Opened as the Liberty Avenue Theatre in 1910, it had a seating capacity of 1,056 (564 in the orchestra and 492 in the balcony). It was taken over by Loew’s Inc. from 1913 to 1918.

A second balcony was added in 1918, to the plans of architect S. Millam & Son, and this increased the seating capacity. From 1919 until it was closed in the mid-1930’s it operated under several managements as a Yiddish theatre.

The Liberty Theatre is listed in the 1930 edition of Film Daily Yearbook, with a seating capacity of 1,467. It was demolished in 1942.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

Does anyone have actual evidence, such as advertising, that the Liberty Theatre ever operated as a cinema? I couldn’t find any listing for it under that or any other name in issues of the Directory of Motion Picture Theatres, Metropolitan Territory, from 1927 through 1941. On February 1, 1932, The New York Times reported that “The Max Brav Company leased the Liberty Theatre, an old structure at Liberty and Stone Avenues, from the Nietspe Real Estate Company. After the expiration of the lease, the theatre will be torn down and an apartment building erected on the site. The theatre is now being extensively decorated and will open early this month. It has a seating capacity of 1,600.” Since this was in the midst of a worsening Depression, it’s possible that the deal never went through. “Nietspe,” you might have noticed, is “Epstein” spelled backwards. I suspect that the Liberty might have originally been a Jewish theatre that fell on hard times. The theatre was mentioned in the NYT on 5/19/39 in an obituary of Harry Cooper, a prominent Brownsville banker
who was active in many Jewish and civic organizations. After emigrating from Poland to America as a teen-ager in 1906, “He worked in a garment factory and then entered theatrical work, studying at night. He was employed for a time by David Kessler, the Jewish theatrical impresario, and was later made manager of the Liberty Theater in Brownsville.” Cooper’s banking career started in 1919, when he joined the Morris Plan Industrial Bank, eventually becoming an assistant vice-president in charge of its Brownsville branch.

SandyA1701 on September 12, 2009 at 8:03 am

When my late father came here from Poland in December 1927, the first place he lived was 74 Liberty Avenue in Brooklyn. At that time, he told me, there was a Yiddish theater across the street. He never mentioned the name, but it was most likely the Liberty.

My father liked to go to see live comedy acts there. The manager of the theater at that time was a man named Anshel Schorr, who was very proactive in soliciting feedback from patrons such as my father. I understand Schorr was quite a prominent figure in the New York Yiddish theater scene of the time.

priscianusjr on November 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

It appears that the Liberty Theatre was open at least as early as 1918, and yes, they did show movies as well as stage productions. I was interested in the question because I was trying to decipher a poor-quality copy of WWI draft registration (dated Sept. 12, 1918) of a musician who at that time was employed at the Liberty Theater. I can’t say for sure, but it’s consistent with what I know of this musician that it was a Yiddish Theater at that time. The address is hard to read, but I’m sure it says “Stone Ave Brkyn.”

Giuliana Bruno, in her book, Streetwalking on a Ruined Map (1993),
page 124, refers to Italian films shown in the 1920s “in Brooklyn at the Liberty Theater on Liberty and Stone avenues.”

Tinseltoes on December 11, 2012 at 6:53 am

The Liberty Theatre is included in this 1912 ad for Marcus Loew Enterprises: Cinematreasures

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