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 165 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm

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 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm

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 4:49 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 5:41 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 5:20 pm

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

robboehm
robboehm on November 26, 2013 at 5:31 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 8:08 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 12:01 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.

JohnWestbury
JohnWestbury on July 7, 2014 at 10:22 am

Posting an update. Unfortunately not many shows going on, actually this past whole week absolutely nothing. It is another summer of drunk guys hanging around with no activity. We were promised “something going on 365 days a year” to quote it’s management’s Facebook post. Not even the lounge is open every night! 10 events going on for the rest of this month is better than it was, but that’s still 10 days out of just over 20. And most events do not sell out, I was surprised that Billy Idol didn’t sell out, because they do have quite a few big names performing at The Space. I’m sharing a link to a recent article. http://thewestburytimes.com/2014/06/bid-talks-revitilization/ It’s more of a pitch to the Westbury BID than anything else. I live here and don’t see much of a difference due to the lack of shows. The Village will not do anything more to curb the loitering. My bet is people are turned off from coming here because of what they see on Post Ave with loitering & bodegas all over the place. It’s such a shame really.

robboehm
robboehm on July 7, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Too many performing arts spaces on Long Island; one, long established, already in Westbury. Poor management, opening was more than a year behind schedule and the bookings are few and far between; bad location.

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