The Space at Westbury

250 Post Avenue,
Westbury, NY 11590

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The Space at Westbury

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Opened on November 10, 1927, the Westbury Theatre was one of (at least six) Calderone Theaters in Nassau County, Long Island (Westbury, Glen Cove, Lynbrook, Mineola, two in Hempstead including the Calderone Concert Hall).

The theater was designed by architect Douglas Pairman Hall in a unique medieval-Tudor style that remains evident to this day. The beautiful and expansive auditorium originally seated 1,600 and included orchestra, loge and balcony sections.

Twinned "down the middle" in the late-1970’s, the theater managed to make the conversion without altering much of the interior. However, for the last 20 years, it continued to lose patronage as the current owners ran it into the ground, failing to make repairs and charging first run prices for second run fare. A loss of customers initially and incredulously came to a head in the late-1980’s following a much publicized local debacle in which the theater owner called the police to have a senior citizen customer forcibly removed from the auditorium after he refused to give up his cough drops! The windfall from this affair, coupled with the construction of nearby multiplexes ultimately left the Westbury Theater for broke.

In 2001, with crowds dwindling and the leaks growing, the Westbury Theater was forced to shut its doors, having been cited for various building safety code violations. The future of the theater is now uncertain. While the very same owners would actually like to save and restore the theater, and, according to the marquee have formed a campaign for this purpose, it appears as though it might be too little, too late. Years of neglect, a seemingly disinterested local neighborhood, the shaky relationship that appears to exist between the theater owners and local businesses and politicians, and finally, the real estate allure of the location make a second act unlikely for this old neighborhood gem.

By October 2010, work had begun on demolition of the dividing walls in the auditorium, restoration and clean-up, with a formal ‘ground breaking’ ceremony held on October 22 to convert into a performing arts center. Reopened as The Space at Westbury in late-2013.

Contributed by Marty Nartinez

Recent comments (view all 164 comments)

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on November 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I signed up just to post my observations since I’m a Westbury resident. The theater outside looks very nice, and I’m sure the inside is too. But there’s hardly anything going on. I read that NY Times article, the owner said that there would be stuff going on almost every day with a new bar and lounge by the fall, well, it’s almost the end of November and there’s still nothing going on. There’s hardly any shows, I would say one show a week would be pushing it, in fact it’s been over two since the last one. The next show isn’t until next Wed the 27th. There was to be a sushi bar and bar opening right across the street, haven’t seen any progress on that either, and the store that the sushi bar was to move into has “for rent” signs on it again. The news stories and elected officials will say how the town has been revitalized, but as a resident I can tell you not much has changed. Still shady people hanging around at night, especially in summer when they get drunk, and too many bodegas and money wiring stores. I dont even feel safe walking through town at night and get a ride back from the LIRR instead. There’s no one around, its desolate, and thats the problem. I dont think people are coming because of these issues. The first show at the theater had alot of ppl but the others have been quieter. In order for this to succeed the Village of Westbury has to agressively fight these Quality of Live issues and then the people will come. So far I have to say I’ve just been very dissapointed. From the photos I’ve seen it’s a beautiful venue, but with hardly any shows and the big “Westbury” sign in front dark most of the time, it’s discouraging.

robboehm
robboehm on November 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm

How many of these venues can Long Island support? The Suffolk in Riverhead has a lot of shows scheduled but one of the merchants said they weren’t doing well. Bolton in Patchogue has a very low profile. There is activity at Patchogue. Don’t know how the Paramount in Huntington is doing. Even the Music Fair, or whatever it’s called these days, doesn’t have as many. WHPAC is a smaller space but seems to attract diverse acts. Don’t know how well they do.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 23, 2013 at 12:47 am

I think Huntington stands apart from the other locations you mention. That strip of New York Avenue, where the Paramount is located, is such a hot spot on weekends, I don’t think it even needs the theater to remain vibrant. Though, I’m sure it helps. I met some friends for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant, just a block and a half from the Paramount last weekend, and the street was hopping. Lots were packed, and local pubs and restaurants all seemed to have good patronage. A significant portion of the crowd at the bar were waiting to go in to the ZZ Top concert at the Paramount, and someone there told me that a few solitary seats were still available for the show. I can recall being on this same strip a few years ago, before the Paramount opened, and when the former IMAC was still shuttered, and the crowds did not seem noticeably smaller, nor the bars and restaurants any less crowded, than they were on my recent visit.

Anyway, point being, you can’t really compare Westbury to Huntington. There really is nothing else going on along Post Ave. In that regard, it probably has more kinship with Riverhead, Patchogue, and Bay Shore – all sleepy little business districts, compared to Huntington.

NYCB Theater, as the Music Fair is now known, is in a fairly desolate (at night, anyway) stretch of office parks and light commercial strips, but it still seems to draw its usual roster of nostalgia acts and comics throughout the summer (and even during other seasons, though not quite as abundantly). I have a feeling, it gets the business it does, because promotors know it, and are used to booking it. It’s like a reliable fixture on the circuit.

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on November 23, 2013 at 2:54 am

Patchogue seems to be doing alot better though, there’s shows most nights, in the next month they have stuff going on almost every night, especially holiday shows. The Space at Westbury has only 6 scheduled events for the next month. The difference here also is Patchogue has plays & holiday shows whereas The Westbury has mostly rock artists and comedians. I view it as a serious problem when a venue cant seem to schedule many acts. Most are similar to NYCB, which may be an issue in itself. I pass by The Space practically everyday and it’s depressing seeing such a beautiful place languishing day after day with nothing going on.

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on November 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I have taken photos of the theater to show you what’s going on. It appears all work has stopped on the lounge as no progress has been made. Even the lobby looks rather bleak. First photo is of the outside, second is the lobby through the doors, and the third is what was supposed to be The Lounge which was supposed to open this fall, which obviously isn’t happening. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v88/Btraindash/Snapshot-1060_zpsdf85e246.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v88/Btraindash/Snapshot-1062_zps7c0244c6.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v88/Btraindash/Snapshot-1065_zps69461e6b.jpg

robboehm
robboehm on November 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

So after three years it still isn’t finished. Unless things turn around it will be out of business before it’s completed. Was an unrealistic venture to begin with.

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on November 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Lots of work going on with the lounge area today, hopefully a good sign.

robboehm
robboehm on November 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I think these startups like The Space and the Suffolk should pick the brains of the successful operations, particularly Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

ejcamt
ejcamt on February 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

Anyone who has ever walked out onto a bare stage with only the ‘ghost light’ on for illumination knows what the developer of the Westbury Theater forgot: an empty theater is only a shell, until the moment a show is in it. The occasional one-day event booking may be nice, but one can’t keep a building alive, much less an entire community, with a policy like that. He needs a resident producer/director to fill the space with ongoing entertainment, offering runs of at least one week as the old Westbury Music Fair and Mineola Playhouses did in their heyday. Oh, and while I am at it, let me throw out a few other observations: [1] from their web site, the new interior looks tacky, and glitzy in a cheap sort of way, but that may be a matter of taste. What is not a matter of taste is the fact that the photographs are all too dark and are shot using the wrong lens. One gets no sense of the feeling the space can have and the relationship between the house and the stage. Loose the lobby photos that look like the place is still under construction and lighten the others up using basic Photoshop functions and/or take new and better pictures if you really want to attract business/rentals. [2] Further along those lines of thought, the owner/managers should add some basic technical information about the stage’s equipment package and capabilities for potential renters (they can look at the site for the arts center in Raleigh, NC for a good example of what I am talking about. And [3] ‘The Space at Westbury’ is a LOUSY name for a theater. Better to call it the Westbury Theater and Event Center. At least that conveys something…some identity and purpose! When it comes to theaters, I am VERY DUBIOUS about villages and property owners taking advice from ‘marketing’ and other MBA type hucksters, who come up with concepts/names like ‘The Space.’ They’d be much better off talking to theater people, with a measure of horse sense, instead. :>)

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on March 4, 2014 at 3:01 am

Gotta agree with the previous post, for the month of March there’s only 5 shows listed. Most nights passing by there’s no activity, not even the Marquee is lit. And the lounges are still closed. Not even sure what’s going on with the “His & Her’s” lounge across the street. I was hoping for a more lively spring & summer in this town, but I fear its just gonna be another bunch of nights with nothing but drunk guys loitering around and no activity. I just dont see how this place can stay in business at this rate.

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