Rugby Theatre

823 Utica Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11203

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 42 comments

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

clifford
clifford on May 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

Hey PragmaticGuy,

That'sfunny because I remember seeing that horrendous Sgt. Pepper movie at the Rugby, the one with the BeeGees in it!

RonnieU
RonnieU on February 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I just found this site. I worked at the Rugby from 1970-1974. The pizza place next door was Little Venice and had incredible pizza. There was a deli across the street – I believe it as called Victors. I worked there before and after the conversion to a twin theater. The was a bowling alley next to Little Venice..

PragmaticGuy
PragmaticGuy on January 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

I used to go to the Rugby back in 60s and 70s. Saw Hard Days Night and Help there and I remember my folks taking me to see numerous movies there when I was a kid. By the 70s it was showing XXX rated films there and I do remember seeing a few at that time.

techman707
techman707 on October 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

PaulKupperberg-Max Schering owned the Oceana, Granada and Rugby. Golden Theatre Management first took over the managment of the theatres with Max remaining as a partner until Golden bought him out around 1975. About 1976 he was going to manage the newly tripled Fortway Theatre for Golden, but after a short time he decided to retire and moved to Florida. I installed the projection equipment when the Rugby, Beverly, Oceana, Fortway, Benson and Alpine in Brooklyn and the Olympia and Quad Cinema in Manhattan were multiplexed, as well as servicing and repairing them from 1972 until 1987. In 1988, Golden Theatre Management sold the theatres that were still operating to Cineplex Odeon Theatres.

PaulKupperberg
PaulKupperberg on August 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm

The Rugby most DEFINITELY ran XXX movies. I worked at the Granada a couple of miles up Church Avenue, run by the same owner from 1973 to about 1975 or 1976 (Max Schiering, or Schering). After the theater was twinned, it became a porn house, at least for a while. I spent a lot of time around Church and Utica Avenues and remember it well; there were several candy stores and newsstands my friends and I frequented weekly for the new comic books, and my grandmother (a former movie theater cashier) lived around the corner of Linden Avenue…plus the aforementioned pizza place next door!
Paul Kupperberg

jedweber
jedweber on December 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Pic of the Rugby on BrooklynPix.com:

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 26, 2008 at 11:25 am

Here’s a new link to the 1940 Utica Avenue trolley photo described above on 6/10/07. The Rugby’s vertical sign and a portion of the building can be seen in the left background:
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 13, 2007 at 8:30 am

Unless I’m mistaken, the vertical sign and stage housing of the Rugby Theatre can be seen in the left background of this 1940 view of trolley cars on Utica Avenue:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/rugby1940.jpg

828midwoodst
828midwoodst on October 29, 2006 at 9:08 am

photo of rugby theatre and surrounding neighbrohood on the following website:

http://midwoodstreetreunion.blogspot.com/

RobertR
RobertR on July 6, 2006 at 2:10 pm

I knew I had passed it many years ago and I guess it’s being close to the Rugby made me remember it as that. Great detective work :)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 6, 2006 at 1:28 pm

Warren, RobertR, Lost and BklynJim… Check out the page for the Carroll Theater in Brooklyn and ALSO on Utica Avenue. It seems that KenRoe has solved our mystery marquee riddle via a new post of some recent photos he took of the former Carroll (now a church) just this past May. I think we have a definite match.

RobertR… you missed the mark on the theater, but not by much… same street, just a few blocks to the north on the corner of Crown Street!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 5, 2006 at 4:09 am

Warren… the shot of the fire escapes is of the Mt. Morris Theater in Harlem on 116th Street and 5th Ave. I posted the image on the CT page for that theater.

Nice discovery there, Lost, with that building on E. 53rd St. Sure looks like it could be a theater building. The only odd thing is that, assuming that any theater in this building ran straight back and perpendicular to 53rd Street, the screen wall would have been at the rear of the property, which is where the fire escapes are located. I looked it up on oasisnyc.net and the address is 289 E. 53rd. It is listed as a place of assembly and might be home to a Jewish congregation. The only listing I could come up with for that address is for a senior citizens nutrition club. The NYC building records I have access to seem to have some erroneous certificates of occupancy in this property’s bin. Lost, can you access better records?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 5, 2006 at 2:47 am

One more note… if you look at the aerial view of the theater (particularly if you swing it around to a view to the north) you can see an indication of the old roof garden. At the northern end of the building is a projection that looks from profile like a really skinny stage loft (but far too skinny to be such). With that southern view you can see that the structure is a hollowed out sort of alcove facing the rest of the roof… perhaps where a small stage or screen might have been installed?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 5, 2006 at 2:45 am

That same group of Matt Weber photos at his website shows a side of a theatre with fire escapes and a Breyer’s ice cream ad on the wall. Is that the same theatre as the possible Rugby?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 5, 2006 at 2:33 am

It is possible that the former entrance to the theater was at the far left end of the building through that part of the facade that is only one story and has no windows above. If so, it might be possible to inspect the facade in person and determine that under all that white paint there exists some detail (the vertical columns, for instance, if not the medallions) that might help confirm that the Matt Weber images I posted are in fact of the Rugby.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 5, 2006 at 2:23 am

OK… I stand corrected. I’ve turned the aerial image around to face in the opposite direction (East) and I find that the large white building is infact the former Rugby. As Warren indicated on the Cumberland Theater page, the theater is now occupied by “Bobby’s Department Store”, which seems to be how the signage indicates above the red awning on the white building. The former Woolworth’s storefront I was using to get my bearings (from Peter K’s vintage photo) has been altered beyond all recognition… it is the facade several doors to the right of the theater building with the alternating black and white vertical stripes:

View to the East

Apologies. Still – back to the matter at hand – the current facade doesn’t resemble anything shown in the marquee photos I posted, so the mystery continues until someone can confirm or rebuke Robert R’s suspicions that they show the old Rugby.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 5, 2006 at 1:55 am

I made that same observation to myself when looking at those views, Warren… but if you use Peter K’s transit photo as a guide, I think there is no mistaking that the tan building is on the same side of the street as the Rugby. Compare the roofline of the Woolworth’s in the transit image with that of the building in the aerial shot just to the left of the car lot and gas station. The trolley in the older image really obsucres the view of the theater’s building, so it’s impossible to really pinpoint where the structure stood. Perhaps the building was demolished and replaced? It sure is hard to imagine reconcile the structure indicated in the aerial view with that of a theater with balcony.

Perhaps someone who lives nearby can do some reconnaissance on the block?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 5, 2006 at 1:12 am

I always have problems navigating through these aerial views, but that tan-colored building doesn’t look like a former theatre to me. It looks to me like two stores that were later combined. However, there are two buildings across the street which look like they might have once been theatres. One even seems to have a fire escape at the rear.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 4, 2006 at 3:27 pm

For good measure… here is a local.live.com aerial view of the Rugby’s stretch of Utica Avenue:

View to the West

You might have to zoom in (see the small building and large building icons on the tool palette to the left of the image)… but I believe the former Rugby is the sort of tan colored building with vertical bands (which look like they might match the vertical brick columns glimpsed in the “Always Air Conditioned” photo I posted above. Those round medallions are nowhere to be found, but they could have been removed since the building was adapted for re-use. Someone posted the building now houses retail space, but the entrance and signage almost looks to me to be indicative of a church conversion. If you count 5 building lots over (next to the pair of 2 story residential buildings) you’ll see the low rising retail building that was the Woolworth’s depicted in the vintage transit photo posted by Peter K on April 11, 2004.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 4, 2006 at 3:27 pm

For good measure… here is a local.live.com aerial view of the Rugby’s stretch of Utica Avenue:

View to the West

You might have to zoom in (see the small building and large building icons on the tool palette to the left of the image)… but I believe the former Rugby is the sort of tan colored building with vertical bands (which look like they might match the vertical brick columns glimpsed in the “Always Air Conditioned” photo I posted above. Those round medallions are nowhere to be found, but they could have been removed since the building was adapted for re-use. Someone posted the building now houses retail space, but the entrance and signage almost looks to me to be indicative of a church conversion. If you count 5 building lots over (next to the pair of 2 story residential buildings) you’ll see the low rising retail building that was the Woolworth’s depicted in the vintage transit photo posted by Peter K on April 11, 2004.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 4, 2006 at 3:16 pm

I have a pair of images taken by professional photographer Matt Weber featuring a theater in Brooklyn that at least one CT member has identified as the Rugby. Here are the photos:

Always Air Conditioned
The Best in Entertainment

Can anyone on this page confirm that these are photos of the Rugby’s marquee? They were taken sometime in the late 1980’s and Matt does not recall exactly which theater he photographed, but does recall it was “deep in Brooklyn”.

Matt has a number of great photos of NYC street scenes at his website www.urbanphotos.com