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 1,418 comments)

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

BobbyS
BobbyS on December 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I was so happy to be in New York around Halloween. I used a family car and drove myself to the Loew’s to see “The Shinning”. What a beautiful theater !! The organ sounded wonderful as he played for an hour for the crowds were huge outside. A night I will never forget. The group that runs the theater are to be hailed for their effort keeping this beautiful theater alive. Congrats to all !!

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on January 20, 2015 at 1:23 pm

January 2015 Movies At The Loews Jersey

Friday Jan 30 – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – 8PM

Saturday Jan 31 – White Heat – 6PM
Saturday Jan 31 – Dog Day Afternoon – 8:20PM

Visit The The Landmark Loews Jersey For More Information.

Kurtpvincent
Kurtpvincent on January 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Wow, I just read on wikipedia that they are trying to become 70mm equipped. That would be incredible. I am going to look into this and see how I can help.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Was here for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, last week. I tell you there is nothing like seeing real 35mm film projected on the silver screen in a real movie palace! Plus the mighty Robert Morton Wonder Organ being played before the show was like the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to see a 70mm film here when they get it up & running. Did the Jersey originally have 70mm capabilities?

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 12, 2015 at 9:46 am

Auditorium #12 in the Sony/Loews Theatres Lincoln Square complex on New York’s Upper West Side is named in honor of this former Loew’s Motion Picture Palace.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Theatrefan: the Loew’s Jersey did not originally have a 70mm projector, but I hope it will have one someday soon.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 12, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Bill, I hope so as well, can’t wait to see what it will look like once they get it up and running. It was always a treat to see movie projected in 70mm back in the past.

DavidM
DavidM on March 1, 2015 at 10:28 am

A friend and I were at the Jersey on 2/28 to see Some Like It Hot. It’s the first time I saw it on the big screen. The movie and the organ concert (played by a 12 year old virtuoso) transcended amazing.

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on March 19, 2015 at 7:03 am

March 2015 Movies At The Loews Jersey

Friday March 27 – To Have And Have Not – 8:00pm

Saturday March 28 – Swing Time – 6:00pm
Saturday March 28 – North By North West – 8:15pm

It is my understanding that all 3 films will be 35mm film presentations.

Visit The The Landmark Loews Jersey For More Information.

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