Lafayette Theatre

97 Lafayette Avenue,
Suffern, NY 10901

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Lafayette Theatre auditorium

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The history of the Lafayette Theatre, named for the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette, began when the Suffern Amusement Company hired noted theater architect Eugene DeRosa to design a location on Lafayette Avenue in downtown Suffern, New York. DaRosa’s concept was a combination of French and Italian Renaissance influences, subtlety mixed in a “Beaux Arts” style. The theater was also equipped with a custom-designed Muller organ to accompany silent films and augment live performances.

The Lafayette Theatre opened its doors in 1924 with the silent film classic “Scaramouche,” and flourished through the rest of the 1920’s with live vaudeville shows and film presentations. A renovation in 1927 added the distinctive Opera Boxes along the side walls and, shortly thereafter, the projection equipment was updated to play the new miracle called ‘Talking Pictures’. During the mid-1930’s, an air-cooling system was installed which, unfortunately, forced the removal of the organ. It was during this renovation that the chandelier was also removed.

After World War II ended, movie-going habits changed with the advent of television. To keep pace with audience expectations, the Lafayette Theatre changed, too. Equipment to handle 3-D films was installed in early 1953 and, later that year, the Lafayette Theatre was the first theater in Rockland County to install CinemaScope to show widescreen, stereophonic sound movies. The premiere engagement was the Biblical epic “The Robe” and audiences flocked to the Lafayette Theatre to see it in the new widescreen process, modestly known as “The Miracle You See Without Glasses!”

The Lafayette’s star faded during the 1950’s and 1960’s as downtown populations moved further into the suburbs and television took hold as the popular entertainment medium of the day. Luckily, the Lafayette Theatre was spared both the wrecking ball and the multiplexing boom, where large single-screen auditoriums were divided up into several small theaters to accommodate playing several films at once. As part of a minor renovation in the late 1980s, the old stage was refurbished and the New York Theatre Organ Society installed a new pipe organ, the Ben Hall Memorial Mighty Wurlitzer.

In the late-1990’s, the Lafayette’s future as a single-screen neighborhood movie palace was uncertain until Robert Benmosche, a resident of Suffern and chairman of MetLife Insurance, saw the potential of the Lafayette Theatre and purchased the building that houses the theater, making necessary and immediate repairs to the roof and exterior in order to prevent any more serious damage from occurring.

Late in 2002, the Galaxy Theatre Corporation, under the leadership of Nelson Page, took a long-term lease to operate the 1,000-seat Lafayette Theatre as a single-screen movie house, erasing any lingering fears that the unique building would be converted to small auditoriums. Page and his team began immediately to refurbish the interior of the theater, bringing back its luxurious pre-war style while investing it with modern projection equipment and concession areas. In September of 2003, a chandelier was hoisted to the ceiling of the Lafayette Theatre, the first time an ornate lighting fixture had been there since the 1930’s, and it was a final signal of the rebirth and continued good health of Suffern’s downtown treasure.

The Lafayette Theatre thrives seven days a week as a first-run movie theater. From February 2003 to December 2008, a classic film series, especially on Saturday mornings, presented over 250 classic films. Boston Culinary Group became a partner of Page in 2007, and Page departed in January 2009, but later in 2009 Page bought out Boston Culinary Group’s interest and resumed control of the theatre. New owners took over in August 2013.

Contributed by Pete Apruzzese

Recent comments (view all 741 comments)

movieguy on March 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Mdvoskin. Thank you for your feedback. I’m sorry that you feel that getting announcements more than once for the same movie, constitutes “Spam” This was not the intention, when the post was put up. Yes Cinema treasures members are usually fans of the theatre. But if these post can get, people who don’t already know about the theater to come out, then it’s worth it. Perhaps there need only be one post for a weekend showing of the movie. With regards to showing bird man and the theory of everything. As you know in the months of January February and most of March. There is very little good product out there. As the studios dump their worst movies in those months. There is very little to choose from in first run movies right now.Focus, The Lazarus effect, unfinished business, along with Chappie. Were box office duds.So showing two movies that did well, at the Academy Awards, for just one week each, was the best choice to show at this time. They did bring in a decent crowd. Apologies are extended to you, in regards to you feeling that you got “spam. Please reconsider continuing to come to the Lafayette theater.

JeffS on March 8, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Actually I always thought Cinema Treasures was for talking about the theaters themselves, and NOT for advertising what goes on there. I will admit that I don’t see a problem mentioning what may be running in an active theater, but day after day after day is a little ridiculous, and is firmly over the line into advertising.

I’m a member of CT to talk, learn, and listen about theaters, not to get ads. If you want to broadcast the theater’s schedule and lineup, get a LIST SERV and start a NEW list just for that. That’s not what CT is for.

markp on March 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I was thinking the same thing as mdvoskin. But in fairness, its still not as bad as the page for the amc rockaway 16. In fairness, movieguy is just passionate about the theatre and I cannot fault him for that.

movieguy on March 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

If you did NOT get a chance to see the movie The Theory of Everything. Tonight is the final screening at 7:00 pm. Cindrella begins Friday.

movieguy on March 13, 2015 at 8:57 am

This weekend the Lafayette Theatre will celebrate its 91st Anniversary! Cinderella opens along with the short frozen fever Tonight Friday. Saturday at 5:00 pm the film Hudson Valley Honor Flight. A moving Trubute to World War II veterans. ALL VETERANS admitted FREE!

Sunday for families meet the snow queen and snow princes 12:30 pm. Followed by a sing along at 1:00 pm. Then Cinderella and frozen fever will Screen at 1:30 pm, admission price ONLY $8.00

dickneeds111 on March 13, 2015 at 10:08 am

Hey Movieguy, Why don’t you take your movie advertising and put it in the local newspaper or ask people to go to the theatre website and see what is playing. Most theatres are playing the same flicks at the same time. We have a small twin cinema here and there ads are on the theatre’s outside Marquee or on line. Stop this repeat nonsense.

mdvoskin on March 13, 2015 at 10:56 am

Hey Movieguy, that is old news. The Lafayette emailed me that information yesterday, as it did everyone who signs up for their weekly programming announcements.

JeffS on March 13, 2015 at 11:35 am

Stop the advertising please. This is not the place for advertisements.

movieguy on March 31, 2015 at 10:53 am

There are some special events coming up at the theatre this Month! The Cassic series starts April 11.Doors open at 11:00 A.M. Full list will be posted Soon. The first movie will be Good Will Hunting. As tribute is payed to Robin Willians. The Graduate will screen on April 18.

The Wild and Senic Film Featival will take place on Earth Day April 22nd. A special treat in coordination with the local restaurants you can buy a “Pinic dinner” and eat the meal at the theatre.

markp on March 31, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Too bad Im working on the 18th or I would have made the 70 mile trek to the theatre to see The Graduate. It was the first movie I ever saw with my first girlfriend (who sadly passed at the young age of 40 in 2000) and was the very first movie I ran as a projectionist some 39 years ago.

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