Loew's Jersey Theatre

54 Journal Square,
Jersey City, NJ 07306

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Loew's Jersey Theatre exterior

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The Loew’s Jersey Theatre was the 4th of five Loew’s ‘Wonder Theatres’ to open in the New York City area, opening just two weeks after the Loew’s Paradise Theatre, Bronx and the Loew’s Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, which had both opened on September 7, 1929. The Loew’s Jersey Theatre opened September 28, 1929 with Ruth Chatterton and Lewis Stone in “Madame X”. On stage were Ben Black and his Rhythm Kings and in the orchestra pit were the Loew’s Symphony Orchestra and the mighty Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ which had 4 manuals and 23 ranks. Resident organist for many years was Ted Meyn. The building had cost $2 million to build and the wonderful Baroque style façade still boasts the mechanical clock of George & the Dragon, a companion piece to the one (now lost) on the top of the façade of Loew’s Paradise Theatre, Bronx.

The opulent Italian Renaissance style auditorium with its 50 foot wide proscenium is reached by passing through a dramatic three-storey lobby rotunda, supported by jade-green columns. In the music gallery above the entrance on the first floor, a grand piano was played to entertain waiting patrons. As was the case in all big movie palaces, the 35 foot deep x 82 foot wide stage was put to good use in the early years with artistes such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, The Ritz Brothers, Jackie Coogan, Russ Columbo and His Band and many others appearing. The orchestra pit (which is on an elevator) was boarded over in 1949.

Later in January 1975, two additional screens, each seating 524, were placed in the orchestra seating area beneath the balcony, leaving the main screen in the balcony, with a seating capacity of 1,078. The Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ was removed at this time and now resides in the Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, California. The Loew’s Jersey Theatre closed on Thursday August 21, 1986 with “Friday the 13th Part VI:Jason Lives”.

In April 1987 it was sold to a private company for demolition, but preservationists saved the theatre from becoming an office building and the theatre was purchased by the city in 1993. The Friends of the Loew’s had been formed and they embarked on an ongoing renovation/restoration project beginning in 1995. The wall dividing the orchestra seating into two screens was removed, and the theatre was re-opened to the public in 2001 (albeit in the beginning using only a fraction of the seating area in the orchestra level). Regular monthly screenings of classic and revival films began during fall, winter and spring, and as work by the dedicated team of volunteers has progressed over the years, the program expanded to also presenting occasional live performances and concerts.

The Garden State Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society acquired a ‘sister’ identical Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ that had been originally installed in the Loew’s Paradise Theatre, Bronx. After several years extensive work on the instrument, it was ready for its debut in its new home at the Loew’s Jersey Theatre in late-2007.

The Loew’s Jersey Theatre has become the centerpiece of the Journal Square renaissance, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1,409 comments)

bolorkay
bolorkay on February 16, 2014 at 9:54 am

Very quiet (in terms of films) for the remainder of this month and into March… I hope all is well at this great theater.

bolorkay
bolorkay on March 28, 2014 at 5:38 am

Just got the e-mail on 3/26…. John Huston’s “The African Queen” (with Bogart and Hepburn) will be screened this Saturday at 7 P.M. at the Landmark Loews Jersey.

movieguy
movieguy on March 28, 2014 at 7:36 am

Yes “The African Queen” WILL show in GLORIOUS 35MM!

bolorkay
bolorkay on March 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

Agreed, movieguy. “Glorious” is certainly the word for what the Loews does with their 35mm film programs!

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on March 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

And so goes the Boyd Theatre in Philadelphia. In 2005, Live Nation bought the theatre, and it has been boarded up ever since. According to news reports, they have started demolishing this art deco gem so they can sell the building to a company that plans to build a modern multiplex.

Cinema Treasures Boyd Theatre web site.

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on April 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

The Landmark Loews Jersey Screenings This Friday April 25 and Saturday April 26

New York, New York. The city’s so nice they had to name it twice…

Friday April 25th at 8PM

The French Connection

Nothing say’s New York better than this gritty tale of international drug smugglers and corrupt cops. 35mm film presentation.

Saturday April 26th at 6pm.

Little Fugitive

An amazing tour of Coney Island in the 1950’s. It is the story of a little boy who runs away from home, to hide out at New York City’s playground, Coney Island. 35mm Film Presentation.

Saturday April 26th at 8pm

Speedy

Harold Lloyd’s classic comedy about a New York a small time Trolly operator trying to keep his business afloat against bigger competitors who will use any means to take over his routes. The highlight of the film is a mad rush though the crowded streets of Manhattan to get the real life Babe Ruth to the real life Yankee Stadium in time for a game. 35mm film presentation, organ accompaniment by Bernie Anderson.

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on May 30, 2014 at 7:10 am

Organ accompaniment for Metropolis by Bernie Anderson.

bolorkay
bolorkay on June 6, 2014 at 5:59 am

Any word yet as to what the films might be for next weekend, June 13 and 14 ?

Altoblanco
Altoblanco on June 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Here is the latest in the unfortunate battle between Friends of the Loew’s and Mayor Fulop for control of the theater.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/06/community_group_outraged_by_planned_takeover_of_jersey_citys_loews_theater.html

Now, more than ever, FOL needs public support. Despite the many obstacles placed before them, they have remained true to their mission of not only saving, renovating and maintaining this magnificent slice of history, but also operating and sustaining it as a precious and necessary cultural and community resource for the citizens of Jersey City and beyond. Now THEIR survival is at stake! Loew’s Jersey’s supporters, customers and friends must let their voices be heard if this iconic building is to remain in the hands of the people, for the people.

The Mayor and big government should not be allowed to strong-arm their way in, take over the “people’s palace” and turn it into a symbol of self-serving opportunism and greed. It must remain ACCESSIBLE to ALL – and that can only happen if FOL stays the course. We can all help by letting our public officials know how important and invaluable FOL’s role CONTINUES to be in accomplishing this, and what it means to us to preserve Loew’s Jersey Theatre as an a NON-PROFIT, COMMUNITY-BASED arts and entertainment center that ultimately serves and benefits EVERYONE!

If you’ve ever attended any movies, shows or other events there… performed there… worked there… have personal memories or reminiscences… followed its history… advocated for its preservation… or simply admire it from a distance as a “theater buff”… What does Loew’s Jersey mean to YOU?

bolorkay
bolorkay on August 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

Hi Altoblanco… “What does the Loews Jersey mean to me?” (Sorry, I don’t want this to sound like an elementary school “post-summer” creative writing essay !) But for all of us who love film, this question really should be answered. For me, if I were to respond to this question with one word, it would have to be “heritage”, both “personal” and “communal”. As a resident of Hudson County for the first 31 years of my life, just about every weekend would find me on the #1 Boulevard bus on my way to Journal Square, final destination.. the great Loews Jersey! (and occasionally the Stanley and the State.) I find it more than a bit disturbing that “heritage” is a concept that has such little value these days. (just about now, I am imagining those cries of “nostalgia” or “why don’t you stop living in the past !”) But where would any community be without a sense of its history and a respect for the foundations of that community? The Loews is one of those very few venues where I make it a point to attend not always for the films they present (although there have been some great programs such as the James Bond weekend, the Film Noir presentations and the early Sc-Fi Festivals) but just to sit and take in the surroundings of this grand architectural marvel! (a kind of “meditation” for me, if you will.)

Our Heritage needs to be preserved! (The FOL have done a wonderful job in this respect.) Bob

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