Beverly Theater

111 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11218

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Sat on June 10, 2018 at 3:55 am

Fantastic to read all this. I spent every Saturday of my childhood at this theater, beginning probably mid 1950’s through my elementary school (PS230) years. I lived a block away, it cost 26 cents for a double feature (actually I think it was 15 cents when I first started to go). My mother would give me another 10 cents for candy. I saw every movie I could, from Frankenstein when I was probably 7 or 8, to Lady and the Tramp, to later, more grown-up films. I remember discovering that there was an art house theater on Flatbush Ave. that had totally different movies: Peter Sellers in I’m All Right, Jack. I ended up going to Erasmus, so the Beverly experience remains in the early-childhood memory bank, while the coming-of-age period probably includes the Loews King and that theater on Coney Island Ave where I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Anyway, I remember walking home from the Beverly one Saturday afternoon when it was unexpectly already dark! And there were empty lots along McDonald Ave. I had seen coming attractions for The Mole People, and kept wondering if there were tunnels under that earth in the empty space on McDonald Ave, and if the Mole People would come up and get us. My friend and I laughed and ran all the way home, pretend-scared but scared enough. That same Matron with the white hair and the flashlight was there in the 50’s, though the writers mention her from the 70’s. About 15 years ago I wrote a play, a 10 minute thing, called “Red Hot Romance” about magical Red Hots (candy) that the movie theater audience snacks on…and all hell breaks loose. Anyway, theBeverly Theater has inspired me in my life, no question about it.

GETC on March 6, 2018 at 9:12 pm

Boo: Great to see your Comment. I am looking for my father’s family. His name was Edward Thomas Tell (b. 1912). Long story but I’d love to chat if you are related to him. I. believe he was related to the bakery and worked there in the 1940’s. ed

theatrefan on February 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Wow, with Ebinger’s next door, I wonder if anyone was able to successfully smuggle in their famous Blackout Cake into the Beverly Theatre, to nosh on during the feature.

junkliss on February 16, 2015 at 2:39 am

Boo, now that is neat. I so clearly remember Dubins bakery on Church and can picture Tell’s. My uncle, Israel Liss, was a freelance Jewish cake baker – working many of the places. I wonder if he worked for your dad ? Jonathan

AndrewBarrett on December 28, 2014 at 8:18 am

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, pg. 630, the “Beverly Th.” in Brooklyn, New York, had a Seeburg-Smith pipe organ installed in 1919.

The number of manuals and ranks of this organ is not listed in the book, being unknown at the time of publication.

This organ had a Kinetic blower, serial #G382, which had a 1 and ½ horsepower motor. The book also lists two additional blowers going to the organ in 1919, both also Kinetic: serial #H329, another 1 and ½ horsepower blower; and serial #H627, a 3 horsepower blower, producing wind at 15" pressure (the highest pressure I’ve ever seen listed for any Smith organ). [The static pressure of the two 1 and ½ HP blowers is not listed]

Except in the extremely rare occasion when a brand-new blower would fail and need to be replaced (again, not common), most entries for multiple organ blowers going to the same theatre (listed in the book) represent enlargements of the organ, or occasionally a new replacement organ from the same manufacturer. The fact that all three blowers went to the same theatre in the same year means that PROBABLY either:

  1. the organ was installed with the first blower, but was enlarged by the factory either during installation (on commission from the theatre owner/builder) or soon after (probably if it was found to be insufficient to fill the house with sound). However, if true, this would be the only Smith organ I’m aware of with THREE blowers, producing a total of SIX horsepower, quite a lot for a Smith organ and larger than one of the two largest known Smith organs (the total HP of the other one is unknown).

  2. the organ was enlarged from whatever its original size (possibly only about 5 ranks with the 1 and ½ HP blower) to a significantly larger size, warranting the addition of a second blower (another 1 and ½ HP for a total of 3 HP). Then, it may have been found that it was more useful (and easier on the building’s electrical system, and less of a pain in the rear for the organist) to fit one larger blower INSTEAD of the two smaller blowers, the 3 HP total representing the sum of the output of the two smaller blowers. So the third blower, if this situation was true, would have been a REPLACEMENT for BOTH of the earlier blowers, which then probably were repossessed by the Smith factory to use on other new organs. A 3 HP blower can power up to about an 8-rank theatre pipe organ, so it is entirely probable that the original smaller organ was enlarged within the year. This is a likely scenario, since the serial numbers of the second and third blowers are about 300 numbers apart, and that probably would have represented a time span of many months of blower sales (nearly a year). Also, the serial numbers of the first and second blowers are many numbers apart, also indicating that the second one probably represents some sort of later addition to the very first one.

(The Kinetic blower serial number letter prefixes roughly correspond to the year made, with the subsequent two-, three- or four-digit number representing the sequential number of the blower within that year, with the numbering starting all over for every new year/lettered batch).

  1. Less likely, but possible: The organ could have been installed as a small organ, with additions made during construction, the additions eventually consisting of two(!) echo chambers, each winded by its own smaller blower. However, this doesn’t make as much sense, since the two smaller blowers have lower serial numbers and were presumably sold first, whereas the largest blower (presumably to power the main organ) was apparently made and sold last.

Regardless of all of this ridiculous speculation on my part, the organ was indeed built, and if all three blowers were indeed used at the same time, this may have been one of the largest Smith organs ever built, with a total of 6 horsepower making it over 10 ranks, and maybe over 15.

Does anybody have any photos or info on this organ, or know where it (or its parts) is/are today? Thanks!

Rugbygirl on November 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Boo, very cool that your dad owned N.E. Tell’s Bakery. You could join the Facebook group Old School Cortelyou. There are people who went to PS 179 and PS 139 etc. we have talked about missing your bakery in different threads.

Orlando on May 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I worked here when Golden took over from United Artists in 1975. They re-opened with the watered down versions of “Devil And Miss Jones” and “Deep Throat” that were not the “XXX” versions. The Dahill Area Association picketed from day one and was Daily News fodder for the next week. People who came by-passed the pickets and were mad on the way out because of the edited versions of both pictures. One afternoon at the change of shifts during the tail end of the first week, the manager Mr. Henry S. was on the way out at six o'clock and I was covering the evening, the theatre was raided and the films seized to the cries of victory from the protesters. At that time, I called Mr. Henry, who was leaving in the lobby and told him to come back. He said his famous line “Blessed Savior Dear!” and came in to be arrested along with the projectionist who made a bee-line to the front doors. Once in the projection booth the “Raiders” seized the films and smelled the distinct pungent aroma of marijuana. The next day we were back in business. Within a week, the Goldens' stopped showing the “X” movies and opened with “Blazing Saddles” and “The Producers” with a $1.00 Price Policy At All Times. This was never an “XXX” policy theatre at any time. The owners wanted to make money with “XXX” rated films so they could twin the theatre. As far as the theatre goes it had a large raised stadium style seating and orchestra. UA left the theatre a mess and the mice had a field day as the theatre was dirty and had sticky floors. After Mr. Henry retired, I became the manager at 19 years old. The theatre at $1. turned in some remarkable figures for the time. I remember that “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” and “The Terminal Man” grossed $8,500.00 in one week and was held over. The theatre had many partners under the Golden regime. Lastly, the theatres' best attraction was it’s marquee with it’s flashing yellow 10 watt bulbs blinking the name “BEVERLY” on all three sides. The flashing yellow lights had a number of speeds as slow, medium and a fast one. The staff who made up the staff were very nice to me. All in all, it was a some what fair experience though not one of my favorite theatre jobs.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

I saw a number of movies at the Beverly in the 70s, when I was living in Prospect Park South. I definitely saw “The Eyes of Laura Mars,” “The China Syndrome,” and “The Awakening” there, amongst others. I don’t think there was a balcony, but wasn’t the auditorium large-ish? At least, I remember it as kind of big.

amg2000 on June 14, 2011 at 3:10 am

I walked past there today, and it pretty much looks the same as the way it looked when I took the photo in 2009. That 99 cent store in the Google Street View is gone, has been for a few years.

Bway on June 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

I don’t believe this theater should be listed as “demolished”, it doesn’t appear to have been demolished, but just gutted and turned into the school, within the shell of the former theater, similarly to who the RKO Bushwick was made into a school, the DeKalb Theater, and currently the Loews Pitkin. See here for a historic aerial showing the theater in 1980, and the building still exists, although with windows poked into it’s sides when you look at the current aerials.

Click Here for 1980 View

Click Here for Current View

amg2000 on November 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

I used to go to this theater in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They tended to play second run movies. I remember seeing Zombies there, in the balcony. The place was pretty much empty.

I walked by today, and it isn’t a 99 cent store anymore, but a T-Mobile store (not sure if that’s a step up or down!)

Here’s a shot of it now:

jflundy on May 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm

The street work in progress may be for preliminary stage of subway station construction on the City owned Independent Subway project. The Church Avenue station was the terminus of the IND from 1936 until the 50’s when it was tied into the Culver Line EL to Coney Island.

Bway on May 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Great photo JF Lundy, but wow, the street looks like a bomb went off! Perhaps it was ripped up from when they were building a subway?

boo on February 22, 2009 at 5:13 am

My Dad owned N.E. Tell’s bakery, a block from the Beverly, on Church between E.@nd and E.3rd. Anyone knew it? When I was quite little my Dad took me into the pool hall by the Beverly to watch Kennedy ride down Church Ave. waving in a motorcade. Lived on E. 2nd between Ave. C and Cortelyou Rd., by P.S.179. I don’t even know what this site is, I just wandered in here.

Elena1 on August 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm

AHHHH the Beverly—the closest theater to my house. a free walk and $1 in the later years when you were broke – great. I also remember the xxx and the picketing in the 70’s. And who can forget the Ape marathon i believe that was also when the cost was $1 so you saw 5 ape pix all in one day for a dollar. I remember going in at noon on a saturday and making it through 3 before i couldnt take any more. Your feet always stuck to the floor. People I knew swore the place had fleas cause they’d say they were itchy after going there. So of course after that, I’d go see a movie and imagine i was itchy. Does anyone remember the stain on the screen?

joeO on February 19, 2008 at 5:42 am

I grew up on fort hamilton pkway. Went to the beverly almost every saturday for cartoons,three stooges. I remembered the post talking about the matrons walking up and down the ailes with the flashlights!
It was a great place where you could bring your lunch and stay till 4-5pm. I remember seeing “Help” on a Sunday and staying for two or three showings.

zivotuno on December 21, 2007 at 12:19 am

thanks TonySypa… it was nice reading that!
i was born in 81 and went to p.s. 230 up the block.

zivotuno on December 21, 2007 at 12:14 am

thanks kenroe for all the photo's
ive walked by that 99cent store so many times and had no idea…

tonysypa on August 14, 2007 at 8:49 am

wow .. great history … when i worked there there was nothing over the beverly .. empty dirty dusty rooms with junk in them … scarola’s only recently closed in the last 5 years or so .. a real loss.. i barebly remember ebinger’s .. that was good !!! let’s see the only stores still standing are the carvel on the corner of e 2nd up the block from the beverly .. and korner pizzeria .. otherwise every single store has turned over .. the german deli with the awesome homemade rock candy … even silver rod’s pharmacy was just sold to walgreen’s … my brother in laws parents owned the flower shop on the other side of mcdonald ave .. there is a picture he has from the 60’s in front of it where you can see the beverly’s marquee in the backround .. big letters “ my fair lady” .. i’ll try to post it when i get the chance.

brooklyndodger on July 15, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Let me take you back to the late 30’s and early 40’s. Kids price of admission was 11 cents, and yes, there was the matron with the flashlight making sure that we sat in the children’s section. For that price we saw cartoons, a serial cliffhanger that went on from week to week, and if you missed a week, too bad. On top of that was the double- feature (2 full length movies)and a news clip that was called, I think, the ‘Movie Tone News’. My sister and I went every Saturday and had a great time.
Above the theatre was a pool room/billiard parlor, owned by Sam and Artie Black. I was 16 and still getting into the Beverly for 11 cents, but they wouldn’t let me in the pool hall because I didn’t look my age. They told me to bring my father with me to verify my age. Imagine my surprise when my father and I went there, and they greeted him like an old lost friend. It turns out that my father, in what he jokingly referred to as “his mis-pent youth”, was a pool shark who beat the best of them, and had played with the Black brothers. From then on I got in with no trouble. That first day my father and I played he cleaned my clock with his fancy shots.
Next door to the theatre was a hardware store, Scarola’s Pizzeria, a deli and other mom and pop stores. Toward McDonald Ave there was Ebinger’s bakery, a candy store, and the Greater NY Savings Bank on the corner.

Vic A.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 7, 2006 at 4:34 pm

Tonysypa… Thanks so much for your colorful recollections! You just ran down a wonderful history for all of us. For my money, that’s what this site is all about!

tonysypa on November 7, 2006 at 6:20 am

i believe i can put all wondering to rest… i was born, grew up and lived two blocks from the beverly…. i also worked there that last summer when it closed in september of 81 …

the beverly back in the 60’s until they “twinned” it was one of those big ol, grand theaters, with the big glass chandelier hanging in the lobby, huge screen, stage, orchestra “ pit” … the lobby was big, with one looong straight glass consession stand, and the old vending machines along the back wall.

my earliest memories are of my older sisters taking me to saturday afternoon matinee’s to see movies like the incredible mister limpit, or song of the south, complete with a few cartoons .. i remember they had a monster movie afternoon complete with monster themed cartoons and monster themed 3 stooge shorts and vincent price shorts … the show ended when some “ actor’s” in frankenstein and dracula comstumes got bum rushed when they came on stage. same thing when santa came to visit during a x-mas themed matinee of the christmas that almost wasn’t.

the beverly always got movies after they were already out the theaters for thier original release. and they almost always had double features, usually themed…. i remember a james bond marathon, a charles bronson double feature, disney days, stuff like that…

when i hit my teenage years we discovered the rules and the old biddy matrons who prowled the beverly in thier white uniforms and flashlights … always chasing the kids back to the children’s section from the adult section… my memory is a little fuzzy but i seem to remember them separating the boys and the girls too ( can someone confirm that ) there was the red headed marie who was nasty and unrelentless in her determination to hassle the kids… and there was an older white haired matron also who’s name i don’t remember. and of course i think every kid made some sort of stand the first time they had to pay adult price for a ticket… “ i paid for an adult ticket, i’m sitting in the adult section !!! "
we used to do mischevious teenage boy stuff like spend the afternoon filling the screen up with spitballs…. or attaching an m-80 to a lit cigarette and leaving it in the balcony waiting for the boom…. one of my favorite days was going ” ape for a day" and watching all 5 planet of the apes movies.. and when marie came to throw me out for being unaccompanied by an adult after 6 pm she got all pissed off because a niehbor of mine was there saw me getting thrown out for no reason and had me sit with him …

as for the xxx expierment, that happened back in 75…. they had “ deepthroat” and “ devil in miss jones” and me my mom and my sisters were part of the picket line chanting “ porno show, got to go ” apparently not too many people were crossing the picket line and that only lasted about two weeks before they gave up on the xxx idea.

in the spring of 1981, i quit my job at waldbaum’s and needing something to do that summer i got a job at the beverly as a usher. i met some new friends, and we used to hang out in the balcony with our beers on our nights off. used to love to get a bag of the old london pretzel nuggets and put some movie theater butter on them… by then the beverly was getting first run movies and i must have seen stripes, arthur, victory, and superman II 200 times each… one night, because my last name is sypa, ino one was paying attention and i switched the marquee to read “ sypaman II” instead of superman II “…we would have a girl in each theater and go back and forth between them making out with both of them … the guys would always fight to see who got to be the doorman that night, because when the right girls were in the ticket booth, we had a scam going… say a couple bought two tix and walked in.. the doorman would rip the tix and give them the stubs… then the next couple we would give the other half of the previously ripped tix, then give thier whole tix back to the ticket girl to resell … and we would split and pocket the money at the end of the night.. hey waddya want, we were making minimum wage…lol

chris and sylvia were the managers, and we had a great crew with paco, the wood brothers, barry, susan, carolina, teresa, gail, nunzio, victor, joey bradica and others whose names escape my memory…. where are you guys, drop me a line if you ever read this …. some of the best days of my life… and of course i worked with that ol' red haired nasty matron marie, who was really a doll … i used to tell her stories of her kicking us out and we’d laugh, then go hassle some kids for the fun of it…

so the beverly closed for good in sept of 81, although we knew a secret entrance to sneak in from the back … it was split up into different stores and that tech school… there was a big snow storm and the old roof couldn’t handle it and gave way to a big collapse … it was then cut off from and rebuilt into an annex for ps 230.

i hope that clears up some questions…. i loved and still miss that old theater….

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 27, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Ed…Many thanks for your kind words of appreciation. I think I am coming up to the halfway mark on the photos to download. Of course, these are the relatively easy ones to do for theatres which are already listed here on CT. Next will be ‘add a theatre’ then submit some photos of them!

Thanks for the info which gives further details of the closing years of the Beverly Theatre, I would say it seems to have closed in possibly 1981 or early 1982? or went into its short lived XXX period.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 27, 2006 at 3:40 pm

Ken… I can only wonder when this incredible stream of images from your trip here in May and June will finally run its full course. Every time I think it’s completely dried up, you find a few more photos to splash onto the site! Wonderful work. Thanks again for sharing.

In December of 1980, the Beverly Twin was showing straight first run films such as “Private Benjamin” and “The Idolmaker”:

NY Post 12/11/80
Daily News 12/9/80

I see no listings for the Beverly in the March ‘82 newspapers I have (neither the Movie Clock or in individual film ads). Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the theater was closed.