St. James Theatre

176 Second Street,
St. James, NY 11780

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Showing 19 comments

robboehm
robboehm on November 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Added current photos of the exterior and interior. A second floor office space was created and the original ceiling supports boxed in. I don’t know what they looked like originally. The detail of the ceiling has been carefully recreated.

robboehm
robboehm on April 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

According to the Smithtown Messenger “Johnnie Brennan’s” theatre opened October 1, 1929. At a reported cost of $ 25,000 the 30 x 90 stucco building was intended as a venue for vaudeville and films. At opening it was called The Little Playhouse at St. James and under a five year lease to Henry Kost who operated theatres in Sayville and Patchogue.

robboehm
robboehm on February 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

Amending an earlier comment. In light of later information indicating ground was broken for the theater in April 1929, it is apparent that the aerial photograph labelled 1927 was taken at a later date. The when may be tough to establish.

robboehm
robboehm on February 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

I got some information on the St. James from Geoffrey K. Fleming and found the image of the original (see the other CT listing) in his book. This theatre building also appears in his book as a 1927 aerial view. I have not been able to determine when it was built or obtain an exterior photo of the facade in it’s day. Tried with the Buildings and Tax Department but their records only go back to the 1940s. When I visited this theatre a couple of years ago Ruth let me go upstairs where I photoed the restored ceiling decoration. One of these days I’ll upload them.

I only got wind of the St. James when I was looking for something else in an old Newsday Movie Time Table.

Since this was a Calderone Theatre acquired by the son of Salvatore, who was the theatre magnet, and died in 1929, there would be nothing in the Calderone collection at Hofstra.

I’ve tried looking at the newspaper records which are available on line but found no activity. I did find, however, references to other theatrical activity in the town (but didn’t record that).

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on February 10, 2014 at 8:16 pm

I am a resident of Saint James N.Y. and a member of the Theatre Historical Society. I became intrigued with the building long known for being a former vaudeville/movie house for the community from the 1910’s to 1950. I learned it was called The Calderone Saint James. I visited it recently and found it to be rented out by a guy who runs his own flea market selling all kinds of junk. It used to be a showroom for an interior decorator named Ruth Weinstein who moved into another store down the street. I was doing research in the Smithtown Library and found that the 1927 microfilm edition of the Messenger had nothing about the theatre. I suppose later editions would or other papers. I plan to give a talk at the library next year about what entertainment was available in Smithtown back in the day to go with the town’s upcoming 300th anniversary.

robboehm
robboehm on January 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Theater cards from the St. James Long Island “Calderone” movie theater. Left to right: “Waterloo Bridge, ” New Moon, “Edison the Man, ” all released 1940. Courtesy of Geoffrey K. Fleming, author of Images of America: St. James.

robboehm
robboehm on August 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

According to references in The Long Islander, the St. James housed summer theater performances in 1934.

robboehm
robboehm on August 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

From the photo above you can see the windows and skylights added for the new second floor.

robboehm
robboehm on August 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Geoffrey Fleming was able to find material on the construction of the St. James which I’ve included in the revised heading. Apparently the date of the aerial photo alluded to previously is CIRCA 1927. Probably more like 1930.

robboehm
robboehm on April 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

More strike outs. Contacted the Town of Smithtown Building Department. They only started issuing Certificates of Occupancy in 1946. For this property it was only for subsequent modifications after the theater closed. Contacted the Assessors Office. Their records also begin in 1946. Only new information: the building was 35 x 90 (tiny, particularly for a Calderone property). On the current Tax Map as Section 56; Block 2, Lot 8.

robboehm
robboehm on March 14, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Pouring over early editions of the Smithtown Messenger, the microfiche only begins in 1922, hasn’t clarified matters. Since the building which housed the final theater appeared in the 1927 aerial photo I was trying to determine when it opened. I found a couple of isolated ads for a Casino Theater in St. James in 1922, 23 and 24. Nothing for 1925, 26 or 27. Will have to spend another day check 1928 and on, possibly through 1940 when I actually have seen images of theater cards. So was the St. James the former Casino? Was the aerial photo taken later? Hopefully the matter will be resolved.

robboehm
robboehm on January 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

The middle child was also on Second, just west of the third, on the north side of the street. Don’t have enough information to do a posting. I was trying to back track on this one to find when it began to get a time frame for number 2. There was not a mention of this one closing in the paper. Looked through a lot of microfilm to find beginning and ending dates. Maybe down the road I’ll get lucky

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 5, 2012 at 11:43 am

Comments allude to there having been three theater to bear the name St. James within the hamlet. I can only find listings for the original and this – the third incarnation. No information on the middle child?

robboehm
robboehm on January 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Althought the St. James disappeared from the Movie Timetable listings in the Long Island Newsday midway into 1949 the theatre continued to advertise in the Smithtown Messenger and the Smithtown News. The last ad in the Messenger was for the May 31, 1950 performance. The last ad in the News was for November 23, 1950. For several months, beginning in March 1950 ads in the News touted the Cycloramic Screen. Sounds good but in a building just shy of two stories high and only slightly wider than a two car garage there were, obviously, limits.

robboehm
robboehm on June 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I was actually in the building today. There is another article about the current owner but little new about the theatre other than that it had a tin roof. The roof is now shingled but the same shape as appears in the photo I mentioned above.

Since becoming a commercial property a second floor has been added. I had the opportunity to go there and see a number of boxy buttresses on either side of the building. My theory is that the original beams were exposed wood in keeping with the Mission look of the building’s facade and, they have now been boxed in to look more modern.

The good news is that the ornate plaster ceiling panels are in tact and have been painstakingly painted. The detail is so fine that I’m sure it could not have been appreciated by theatre patrons.

robboehm
robboehm on November 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

In the article in the November 7, 1985 Smithtown News it was indicated that, despite occupancy by two previous owners, the office and projection room (sans equipment) were intact. The original bathrooms were found when walls were opened up. The portions of the stage which remained were incorporated in the final redesign of the space.

robboehm
robboehm on October 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I spoke with the receptionist at Natalie Weinstein Design Associates, the current occupent of the building, she said there is a framed article on the wall which describes the renovation of building which they did and certain “finds”. I’m awaiting a copy of this. To date the only photo I’ve seen is the aerial one I mentioned when I created this site. There is no detail. When I went by the site I was surprised how small the building actually is.

I expect to pursue the expansion of my posting thru the historical society and the library. Hopefully there will be pictures of it “in the day”.

Incidentally, in a conversation with Mr. Fleming, the author of the book, he said he actually has two of the cards advertising what was playing at the theatre. I didn’t explore that any further.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Also run by Island Theater Circuit.

Anyone have more info or photos?

robboehm
robboehm on October 15, 2010 at 8:29 am

In his book “Images of America – St. James”, Geoffrey K. Fleming includes an aerial view of downtown in 1927, including the theatre. Much of the land is vacant or wooded, an unusual venue for a Calderone theatre. This was probably the smallest of the Calderone playhouses.