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 692 comments)

movieguy on January 10, 2015 at 5:15 pm

The Banff Mountain film Festival, the wild and scenic film festival along with the Jewish film Festival are special events to look forward to at the beautiful Lafayette theater. As well as a special concert, On May 28 Neil Berg’s 100 years of Broadway. Sure to be a sellout.As well as first run movies and the classic movie series Saturday mornings beginning again on April 11, 2015.

movieguy on January 12, 2015 at 11:59 am

Hot off the presses! The critically alcaimed movie starring Bradley Cooper. American Sniper, Will be opening at the Lafayette theater. This Thursday the 15th there will be a special sneak preview one day before it officially opens exclusively at this beautiful movie palace. Show time 7:15 PM Thursday the 15th.So mark your calendar now and come down Thursday night.there are many good restaurants to choose from. So come on and have dinner before the show

mdvoskin on January 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I am confused. Everyone who is playing American Sniper is opening it on Thursday the 15th. In fact, AMC Palisades Mall has 3 shows on Thursday. I’m not seeing how this is a special sneak preview.

movieguy on January 14, 2015 at 1:55 pm

technically yes it’s not a sneak preview but it is a special Thursday night showing, at a real classic movie palace,90 years in operation. A much nicer, experience all-around versus going to a multiplex.

movieguy on January 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Don’t forget tomorrow, Thursday come to a real movie theater, the iconic Lafayette. 90+ years in operation. American Sniper is getting rave reviews , sure to be ranked as one of the best movies of the year.

Show time 7:15 PM. Come down a little early and get a good seat grab some fresh popped popcorn as well.

movieguy on January 15, 2015 at 6:24 am

Tinight at 7:15 PM, American sniper The excellent film,starring Bradley Cooper. Come on down to a real beautiful 90 year old movie palace. The drinks are ice cold. The popcorn pop fresh right before your eyes.

movieguy on January 15, 2015 at 6:27 am

The Banff Mountain film Festival, Will Take Place February 25th Tuesday and February 26 Wednesday. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Ramsey outdoor, on route 17, in New Jersey. The show is sure to sell out. As it does every year.So make sure your get your tickets in advance. The Lafayette theater is the perfect place for this event.

movieguy on January 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

The classic film series that takes place on Saturday mornings will resume in the spring on April 11. The schedule will be posted by mid February.

movieguy on January 16, 2015 at 2:48 pm

American sniper is an excellent film. Bradley Cooper gives a riveting mesmerizing performance. Client Eastwood has done a great job directing this movie. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor Bradley Cooper. Come see it a real iconic beautiful movie palace. Playing today Friday 7:30 PM. Saturday and Sunday 2 PM 5 PM and 8 PM. admission price is only $10. Any show for 3 PM only $8.00all seats. Senior citizens over 65 $8.00at all times.

movieguy on January 25, 2015 at 6:01 am

The huge hit, American sniper continue with its run at the Lafayette theater. Place today Sunday the 25th at 2 PM 5 PM and 8 PM. Also Thursday the 29th at 7 PM, Friday the 30th 7:15 PM. Saturday and Sunday the 31st and first 2 PM 5 PM 8 PM.

50 shades of gray opens on February 13.

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