Loew's Pitkin Theatre

1501 Pitkin Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11212

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Bway on July 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

The total was a shambles, I don’t know how much was left to restore after the water damage. There were literally hundreds of holes in the roof. I have to say, while it’s sad it can no longer be a theater anymore, they did an absolutely FANTASTIC job with the exterior conversion and restoration. The exterior shell is better than total demolition, so a piece of history is in fact preserved.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on July 2, 2013 at 7:47 am

I didn’t think anything was being restored. Pretty sure they gutted the building completely.

Scott on July 2, 2013 at 7:16 am

Nothing I’ve read about the conversion explains which areas of the theatre were restored and which were destroyed. Can someone elaborate on this? I’m guessing the auditorium was leveled, or gutted. Were some of the lobby and foyer spaces saved and restored? I see that the main facade was preserved.

CSWalczak on September 25, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Bobby S: Enlarge each Google map accompanying each theater on the respective pages; if you use the Prospect Park Parade Ground as a point of reference, you will see that they were not all that close to each other; as you noted, Brooklyn is pretty big.

Actually, the big downtown palaces fared reasonably well in the Depression, due to the relatively inexpensive tickets and did well into the 1940’s, though architectural tastes changed, and combination programs of live acts and movie programming became less frequent, eliminating the need for elaborate, fully-equipped stages. Yes, some chain owners like William Fox went bankrupt and some theaters did close and fewer were built.

But there were three major factors that really doomed both the existing and any planned palaces, and all of them occurred after the Great Depression: the 1948 Paramount Consent Decree that forced the major studios to divest themselves of their theater chains, the coming of television, and the exodus of so many people to the suburbs. There was, especially in the 1960’s a relatively brief flowering of large, single screen theaters that might be regarded as sort of second generation palaces, but the arrival of multiplexes eventually doomed many of these or resulted in their being subdivided, in many cases atrociously.

BobbyS on September 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

How far was the Loew’s Pitkin to Loew’s Kings? I didn’t realize Brooklyn was so large. 1929 was sure an important year for the Loew’s chain wasn’t it? If only they could see the depression around the corner, these pleasure palaces might never have been built.

Metropolite on September 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

From NY.Curbed.com Thursday, September 6, 2012, by Jessica Dailey

When we visited the Loew’s Pitkin Theater in 2010, the movie palace, closed for 40 years, was falling apart and pretty creepy-looking. But no more! POKO Partners sent along a press release announcing the completion of their $43 million adaptive reuse of the structure, transforming the historic ruins into a mixed-used building featuring a charter school and retail space. Brownsville Ascend Charter School occupies 130,000-square-feet on seven of the building’s eight floors, with a discount store anchoring the street-level retail space along Pitkin Avenue.

The renovation, lead by architecture firm Kitchen & Associates, restored the historic building’s exterior neo-classical and Art Deco features while retrofitting the interior to accommodate the school. Along with classrooms for K-12 students, the school has a gymnasium, auditorium, science labs, and art rooms. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held next Thursday, September 13.

Tinseltoes on August 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

Two-page 1929 trade article starts here: archive

ganfax on July 24, 2012 at 6:04 am

I lived across the street from the Loew’s Pitkin. 1947 until 1963. Fond memories of saturday movies. 5 cartoons, a serial and a “double” feature. I even got to see Jerry lewis live on stage. the ceiling used to have stars and a moon that would slowly cross from one side to the other. Looking back, the theater was the most beautiful of theaters I have ever seen…to this day. It’s a shame to hear how run-down it has become.

Tinseltoes on May 21, 2012 at 7:53 am

Here’s a 1980s tax photo of the dilapidated exterior: lunaimaging

Tinseltoes on November 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

Today at 11am marks the 82nd anniversary of the grand opening of Loew’s Pitkin. “Feast your eyes on this newest Loew wonder-theatre— a Castilian castle of surpassing beauty,” said an ad in The New York Times. On screen was MGM’s all-talking “So This Is College.” The stage presentation, originally created for the Capitol Theatre in midtown Manhattan, was “Cafe de Paree,” with music played by the Pitkin’s resident Symphony Orchestra…The opening date in this listing’s introduction needs to be corrected.

TLSLOEWS on May 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Marcus Loew was born on this date in 1870.

TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thanks again Brad.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This photograph of the Loew’s Pitkin Theatre was taken in 1930 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

TLSLOEWS on February 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm

At least the Loews Pitkin building will become a school,they could tear the building down all together,I think it would be nice for me to go to a school that was once a movie palace.Large movie houses have always been “Creepy” in a good way.

Denpiano on January 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

that new york one report made me sick looking at my old friend in such poor condition&what do they mean “creepy old movie palace? what idiots! i’d like to see how their house would look if it fell into disrepair!! as you see i’m very sentimental about my PITKIN THEATRE!

Denpiano on January 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

my memories are of the sign outsideduring the summer saying how cool it was inside&boy was it cool!!,what a beautiful building to be cool and watch the latest Jerry Lewis movie, what a sin its present condition

TLSLOEWS on January 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for your memories peegirl.

shi725 on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The pitkin theater oh what memories . lived in Brownsville 1946 -1991. I was reading what everyone was saying about brownsville, it brought me to tears, because all we had to worry about is being kids. Sylvia wrote about the schools she went to,my sisters went to 84, my brother 66, I also went p.s.175 and surely remember kishe king.I went to J.H.S 263 on Chester St,when graduating from the 9th grade graduation was held at loews pitkin. The ceremony was so beautiful from the ambience of the theater. There was no such thing as cap and gown, the girls wore white dresses and the boys dark suits, when the organ played pomp and circumstanceand we marched out everyone felt like kings and queens. Brownsville had so many movies on saturdays we had the biggest arguments there was four of us and everybody wanted to go to a different movie, I was the youngest so Ididn’t care which ever one they picked they had to take me anyway.
Glad I became a member of cinema treaure the nostagia is off the hook ( have teenage grand children)

CSWalczak on October 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

The NY Times posted a correction to the article I posted above on October 1; the reporter told me that the erroneous information was given to her by the architect of the redevelopment project.

Tinseltoes on September 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

A unique atmospheric theatre with futuristic decor called the Embassy in Reading, PA, initially used real steam to create clouds on the ceiling, but had to discontinue it when water kept raining down on the audience. More about the Embassy here: /theaters/10680/

tntim on September 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

You are correct; the clouds were projections from a cloud machine known as a Brenograph Jr. Dry ice?? Just goes to show you that some reporters will write about something they know nothing about.

CSWalczak on September 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

An article about the redevelopment project for the Pitkin: View link

The article also states that when the Pitkin was a functioning atmospheric theater, the floating clouds were created by the use of dry ice. I always heard that they were projections from a machine called a Brenograph. Does anybody know if dry ice was ever used? It seems to me that dry ice vapor tends to stay close to the floor.

Tinseltoes on September 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I deplore the way in which the truth gets twisted by the press, as in the case of “Al Jolson’s last performance.” To the best of my knowledge, Al Jolson performed only once at Loew’s Pitkin, and that was just for a few minutes as part of a whirlwind p.a. tour of key Loew’s houses in 1949. Jolson died a year later, in October, 1950, and kept performing right up to the end. It’s possible that Jolson’s performance at the Pitkin was his last of that particular day, or of the Loew’s circuit tour, but nothing more significant than that.

TLSLOEWS on September 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Thats good news. Good Luck to them.