Lafayette Theatre

97 Lafayette Avenue,
Suffern, NY 10901

Unfavorite 34 people favorited this theater

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 715 comments)

movieguy on February 19, 2015 at 8:33 am

The #1 Movie in America,50 Shades Of Grey continues its run, this Thursday-Sunday.Showtime, Thursday 7:00pm, Friday 7:30 pm. Sat,Sun: 1:30,4:30 7;30.

Come listen to the organ play 30 minutes before the theatre lights are lowered, and the heavy red curtain opens, to reveal the beautiful TRUE silver screen. Fri and Sat evening shows, at at REAL ICONIC 91 YR OLD MOVIE PALACE!

movieguy on February 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Tonight is the Banff Mountain film Festival. Doors open at 6 PM the program begins at 7 PM. Tickets can be bought at Ramsey outdoor on Route 17 in New Jersey. Or arrive early, before the doors open to get your ticket. As a very limited number of tickets will be sold at the theater box office.There will be completely different program tomorrow night Wednesday, 25 February. Tickets $19 in advance $22 at the door.

movieguy on February 24, 2015 at 8:23 pm

The Banff Mountain film Festival was a great success. It was completely sold out. The show tomorrow is nearly sold out as well. A very small handful of tickets remain. They can be bought at the Theater box office, or at Ramsey outdoor on Route 17.Doors open tomorrow Wednesday, February 25 at 6 PM.

movieguy on February 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm

The winner for the best picture of 2015. Bird man, will open up at the Lafayette theater this coming Friday, The 27th. It will be playing for one week only. Friday 7:30 PM. Saturday and Sunday 1:30 PM 4:30 PM 7:30 PM. As well as Thursday, March 5 at 7 PM.

movieguy on February 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Couldn’t make it Tuesday night to the Banff Mountain film Festival? Well why not come out tonight. There are a handful of tickets still left. They can be bought at The theaters box office. Doors open at 6 PM the program starts at 7 PM. And entire new set of films, will take your breath away. Be sure to arrive early even if you already have a ticket. Because the seats will fill up quickly. You want to get the best seats in the house. Why not sit up in the old-fashioned balcony. You’ll have a clear line of sight to the big silver screen. Stadium seating circa 1924😊

movieguy on February 27, 2015 at 4:21 am

Starting tonight Birdman starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis.The story of an actor trying to make a come back on Broadway. It really is an excellent film. Come down to the beautiful Lafayette theater. Showtimes: 7:30 PM tonight. Saturday and Sunday: 1:30 PM 4:30 PM 7:30 PM. Come one half hour before showtime on Friday and Saturday nights, to hear a preshow concert on the organ. First show Saturday and Sunday, admission price $8.00. Seniors $8.00 ANY TIME. Regular admission $10.00 The LOWEST in the county. Popcorn is made fresh before each show in an old-style popper!

hotwaterbottle on February 27, 2015 at 9:37 am

Hey, movieguy, does Phil and the Lafayette management know you are doing this, your little cheerleading act? Why are you posting this stuff like you are the manager, Peter??

movieguy on February 28, 2015 at 6:30 am

Haven’t seen the movie that was awarded the best film of the year at the Academy Awards? Well then you’re in luck. BIRDMAN WILL be playing at the beautiful Lafayette Theatre this weekend. Showtimes 1:30 PM 4:30 PM 7:30 PM. Come down early and have a nice dinner at one of the fine restaurants in town. The Wurlitzer organ, is played 30 minutes before the 730 show. Grab some delicious popcorn, as a snack treat as You sit in the beautiful real movie palace.Why go anywhere else!?

jovanderlee on February 28, 2015 at 6:37 am

If anyone noticed that the theatre currently has 2 organs, it is just temporary. The current organ is a digital instrument temporarily installed while the 1920’s pipe organ is undergoing some much overdue repair work. For the record, the New York Theatre Organ Society has committed $10,000 for this repair which will bring the Wurlitzer pipe organ back better and more glorious than ever. We expect this to be completed around the first week in April, as the digital substitute has a new gig later that week. We are counting on the management of the Lafayette Theater for their cooperation in accomplishing this task. Once done, we promise the patrons will be happy!

movieguy on February 28, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yes the Wurlitzer organ is having a important part replaced. So A temporary Organ has been brought in.I made an error in my post saying that the Wurlitzer organ would be played for tonight’s show.can’t wait for it to come back .

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater