RKO Keith's Richmond Hill

117-09 Hillside Avenue,
Richmond Hill, NY 11418

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LugosiResearch
LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm

On Saturday 3 February 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at RKO Richmond Hill. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (poster, handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance!

LuisV
LuisV on September 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

I visited this theater in late August as I was in the area. Sad to say, it was incredibly depressing. The theater was hosting one of their Bingo sessions and the foyer leading from the front door to the auditorium reeked of cigarette smoke. The people were frightening. It literally looked like an SRO resident convention. None of these people looked like they should have any money to gamble on Bingo and yet here they were. Yes, the theater is still basically intact but I can’t imagine any situation where this ever gets restored. It simply is a rotten location for any performing arts use. I’m not even sure where these people came from since the area is basically a middle class neighborhood. Even more upsetting is that Salernos looks like its been long gone. The space is empty. Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor (on the other side of the theater entrance) has been gutted and turned into some king of “club” but I couldn’t tell if even that hadn’t already gone out of business. The old Triangle Hoffbrau restaurant is also gone and gutted into medical offices. The beautiful Simonson Funeral Home was torn down and a strip mall is taking its place. Will likely be hideous. Next door to that, The Republican Club reflects its party. It has been completely hollowed out and is a shadow of its former stately self. Have no idea what’s happening there.

On a good note, the Olympic Diner on Myrtle is STILL there. Rubies Costume Shop is still on Jamaica Avenue. The Queens Public Library has been restored and it beautiful with loverly landscaping.

I have now sold my nearby investment apartment and will likely never be back to this area. I wish it all the best but I fear for the RKO Keiths. What a shame.

jimwhite
jimwhite on July 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

I have been reading all the wonderful things you all have been saying about RH Keith’s and the surrounding neighborhood where I went to HS, 59-63. Unless I missed it I haven’t hear anyone mention the DELIGHT DINER on Jamaica Ave and Lefferts Blvd and Glenn’s Bar, directly across from the Keith’s and Salerno’s. I spent many a night in both!

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 8, 2012 at 4:03 am

Wanna buy or sell a flea? Apply here: richmondhillfleamarket

angekmk
angekmk on September 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Has someone already mentioned the old days when stars came in support of their films? I remember seeing Judy Garland plugging “Gay Purree.” Jahn’s ice cream parlor next door was an added aatraction.

LuisV
LuisV on May 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

So it has been over a year since the last posting on this theater. It appears nothing has changed, which I guess is good as that means it is still there and maintaining itself as a flea market. The RKO Keiths, along with the Loew’s Canal in Manhattan have got to be the largest and most promising of the unrenovated theaters in Manhattan. Unfortunately, the location of the Keiths makes it unlikely that the money will be spent to properly restore it. Ironically, it is the location that has allowed it to last this long relatively undisturbed.

Bway
Bway on March 8, 2010 at 5:01 am

What a shame the new owners of the building decided to take the historic RKO Keiths name off the marquee that was restored about 10 years ago.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 8, 2010 at 4:35 am

A marquee photo as flea market can be seen near the end of the final installment of this multi-part article about Myrtle Avenue:
View link

William
William on October 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

Roseland was once a ice skating rink and later converted to a roller skating rink.

Bway
Bway on October 28, 2009 at 10:08 am

Was Roseland in Manhattan a theater at one time? I have been in there a few times for concerts, and it seems like it may have been a theater at one time.
And of course there’s the Hammerstein Ballroom, still used for concerts, with the seats ripped out, but still has a lot of it’s theater features. I think it was the Manhattan Opera House.

LuisV
LuisV on October 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

I also have to add, that I never saw any of these theaters while they were actually showing films. But I was able to enjoy and admire them many times during my “disco” years. I couldn’t even pick a favorite as each was spectacular in its own way; particularly The Palladium, Club USA and of course, The Saint!

LuisV
LuisV on October 26, 2009 at 9:12 am

Other big church conversions: Loews Metropolitan in Brooklyn,Loews Elmwood in Queens, The Hollywood in Manhattan, and The Stanley in Jersey City! All are restored and, I believe, intact.

While I know others would disagree, I found conversions to discos highly succesful in many high profile efforts. Who can forget the amazing Studio 54 (Gallo Opera House), The Saint (Loews Commodore), Club USA (The Forum), Palladium (Academy of Music), Xenon (Henry Miller), Bond’s International Casino (International Casino). These clubs stand out as among the most illustrious in New York’s history. There was something incredibly special about dancing under the amazing archtecture that these theaters provided. In most cases, these theaters were saved for many years after they would have been torn down as a result of their successful turns as discoteques. Unfortunately, only one, Studio 54, is still around for us to enjoy today as it has been successfully returned to live theater. All of the others, sadly, have been demolished.

Bway
Bway on October 26, 2009 at 8:19 am

I forgot about perhaps one of the best church conversions…. the 175th St in Manhattan….now the United Palace.

Bway
Bway on October 26, 2009 at 8:19 am

There are many theater conversions to churches that went well. They are perhaps the “best” conversion a theater can have in regard to the integrity of the building. I don’t really even consider church converstions, “conversions”, as they usually remain completely intact, right down to the seats! They are basically still “theaters”. The list probably goes on forever, but here’s a few theater to church conversions, just off the top of my head:

Loews Valencia in Jamaica – completely intact
Colonial Theater in Bushwick – completely intact
Loews Gates in Bushwick – completely intact and renovated
Rivoli i in Bushwick – intact
….the list goes on.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Thank you, John, I read the CT page on the Woodside, and it is on my must visit list.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Well, here is the Woodside’s CT page. Enjoy!

/theaters/6406/

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Panzer, I would also include the old Woodside Theater, which was marvelously converted into a Catholic Church in the early 1950’s. Its CT page has a number of terrific pictures that clearly indicate how such conversions should be made. Unfortunately, no pictures of its terrific exterior, which has been equipped with a very imposing Romanesque front, have been added to this site.

But please take a look of this unjustly neglected site and enjoy.

Bway
Bway on October 21, 2009 at 7:15 am

The Meserole Theater actually is a great coversion. The entire interior of the theater is intact. The floor has been leveled, but that was perhaps the most severe thing done, otherwise much remains right in view in the store. They even project slides of sales onto the old screen area!

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Hello Bway,
There must be more examples of the mentioned theaters across America, the ones in New York most likely are plentiful, but gaining access to these forgotten places is the key. The gentleman who owns the website definitely has a good idea as far as wanting only the reclusive sections of theater conversions, they are almost like a time portal…a forgotten area that only the true theater fan would like to see and explore. Thanks for the tip about the Loews 46 st..I’m going to check the CT site and may visit the store in the future.I have been to the Meserole in Brooklyn, its forgotten area exists in the balcony I beleive.

Bway
Bway on October 13, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Thanks again Panzer. I to am fascinated with building conversions to other uses. It is also the first time I have seen the inside of Loews 46th St, now a furniture store. The Eagle Theater in Manhattan was also interesting with all the mattresses thrown in there, it must be a mattress store.
The Keiths is definitely a great example of a classic theater, and while a diamond in the rough, it is very intact which is pretty great.
I was in the Keith’s balcony when I was a kid, I went up the stairway when my parents were there for a flea market, and I went “exploring”. It was easy then, as a ckid could get away with being places he should n’t be… I don’t think that would be as easy as as an adult, haha. The Keoiths is the theater that got me interested in old theaters, as I mentioned before in this page.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 13, 2009 at 11:13 am

I felt this thread was the appropriate place to post this link because the Keith’s Richmond Hill is a stunning example of how the American movie palace experience was seen and felt, not only that, the mentioned site also has a photo of the Keith’s projection room. It appears the photographer was interested in the areas that were abandoned in conversions to other uses. This is a fascinating venture for the classic movie house fan like ourselves.I do wish he would have taken photos of the Keith’s balcony area. I have been to the orchestra section, but the owner would not let me into the balcony. Upon viewing the photos , I took an interest in the one of Chicago’s Uptown theater. The architecture of the interior is quite stunning, especially the fact that it has a mezzanine section, which is peculiar to most American movie houses that sweeps gracefully into the side walls where the box seats are usually situated and have independent access. The design also has an oval

shaped dome above the mezzanine, which doubles as a ventilation duct. The Uptown
is also under landmark protection, it closed in 1981, but grass roots group has cared for her until a full restoration can begin.
Check out their CT thread, and also they have a petition you can sign to accelerate the process of renovation. Here’s a link of the beautiful mezzanine.
View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 13, 2009 at 8:00 am

Thanks you Panzer for such a terrific show. I could think of a number of other creative conversions, e.g., the Woodside and the Meserole, that could also make this cut.

Bway
Bway on October 13, 2009 at 7:25 am

Thanks! That is very interesting, and this theater is such an appropriate spot to put that link!

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Hi friends, found an excellent site which contains photos of theater conversions which have some sections intact from their days of showing films.

http://www.marchandmeffre.com/