Century's Floral Theatre

250 Jericho Turnpike,
Floral Park, NY 11001

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robboehm on March 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Additional photo added.

robboehm on February 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

In a real estate piece in the April 24, 1927 Brooklyn Eagle there was a discussion about the development of Floral Park. It was anticipated that 300 new homes would be built within the year. It was also noted that the Floral, which actually read Floral Park on the front of the marquee, had just opened the prior Monday, April 18th, and had been built at a cost of $100,000.

robboehm on April 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

In a series of New York Places which are no more (or something like that) which someone had linked to Facebook there is a picture of the Floral, without the vertical but still with a marquee. Way back when I said the vertical was removed when the marquee had to be modified for the widening of Jericho Turnpike. Also, the marquee in that picture was a modern box, not the incandescent image which I’ve usually seen. Don’t know when the transition was made but even that went when Jericho was widened and the marquee was reduced to a slab with the signboards elevated to the northern and western walls of the theater.

Jeff M.
Jeff M. on February 25, 2012 at 8:04 am

A clarification of sorts. In my recent post to comments posted by Ed Solero regarding the Floral’s pipe organ I stated in that it was installed in 1928. This is from the book entitled The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol.2 authored by the late Dave Junchen and published by Showcase Publications in 1989. This volume covers pipe organ manufacturers whose names began with the letter “L” through “W”. Dates were taken from his first hand research with United States Pipe Organ Company archives. It is possible that the organ was installed after the theatre opening. David published volume 1 and had material for his third and final volume which was to have been exclusively on Wurlitzer. Unfortunately he died before it could be published and it was finally published in 2005 by the American Theatre Organ Society. Theatre organist Jeff Weiler spent quite a few years putting David’s material back together and expanded on it as well. It is a great tribute to David’s memory. The ATOS should still have copies available of this issue and the other volumes can be found either through EBay or ABE Books.

Jeff M.
Jeff M. on February 25, 2012 at 7:35 am

Hello all. I have just posted 5 pictures of the Floral Theatre taken sometime in either the late 70’s or early 80’s. I had asked permission from the manager to photograph the auditorium and was refused. So all of what you will see were taken during an intermission and in a hurry. Without the use of a tripod and timed exposure a full house picture was out of the question. I am of the opinion that the colors shown in my pictures are from a repaint done in later years and do not represent what the house originally looked like when first opened. My previous post described the pipe organ it once possessed. I do not know when it was removed or where it went. My guess is that it coincided with the installation of air conditioning. I remember seeing these large round fixtures protruding from the auditorium ceiling which undoubtedly had something to do with the AC.
Possibly the AC unit was installed in the old organ chamber. Back in the early seventies I lived in the Garden City Park & Floral Park area and saw many a film in the Floral Theatre. Going to that theatre was a first class experience. I’m happy that the new owners had the foresight to preserve as much of the architectural details that they did which helps keep the memory of the Floral Theatre alive.

Jeff M.
Jeff M. on February 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm

To Ed Solero on your comments from April 24, 2011. The Floral Theatre possessed a United States pipe organ consisting of 3 manuals and 8 ranks of pipes. It was Opus number 152 and was installed in 1928. All the pipework was installed in the stage right chambers. Of all the local houses in this chain the Floral has the largest theatre organ. The Bellerose has a 2 manual 7 rank instrument by the same builder. The United States pipe organ factory was located in Crum Lynne, PA. At one time I knew who the architect of the Floral was but over the years I’ve forgotten who that was. I did notice, while doing research on the Floral, that it had the look of a much earlier style house. In my opinion it had an auditorium similar to vaudeville houses built in the late teens / early twenties. The very shallow lobby with half walls separating the rear of the auditorium along with the lack of free hanging chandeliers and very subdued base relief plaster decorations gave it that older look in my opinion. Most movie houses built in 1927 were far more ornate. My guess is that by utilizing existing plans they were able to cut costs. Once again this is all my opinion based on what I have seen and learned over the years.

Leighgate on February 5, 2012 at 5:20 am

I saw my very first movie at the Floral when my Mother took me and my sister to see “The Sound of Music.” It really was beautiful inside…my favorite of all of the local theaters. Nassau Drugs (now a computer/fax store) was a pharmacy directly across the street from the Floral (you can see it on street view). At Christmastime, the owners would give free tickets, to kids, for the Floral Theatre. I remember my first Christmas movie was “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” The Stacks were the owners of the pharmacy

Vito on June 27, 2011 at 3:17 am

I suppose I should also clarify that the tape was placed on the bottom masking and not the screen. It served as a guide for the masking people to set the proper stops and for the tech to establish dead center on the sheeet.

Vito on June 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm

The tape I refered to was removed once final installation was completed and used only to mark center and ratio settings, sorry if I confused you on that. I do not recall screen size Floral/Bellrose

robboehm on June 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

Interesting. I may be imagining it but I thought I could sometimes see tape thinking there was a repair. Do you know if the Bellerose had a larger screen than the Floral? I seem to remember the proscenium of the Floral being narrower.

Vito on June 26, 2011 at 4:06 am

Yes robboehm, there is a formula for determining proper lens size We have a slide rule type tool that gives proper lens size determined by distance of lens from screen and screen size. Putting the screen size and projection throw into the tool will give the proper lens size to use for 1:85 and scope. Done properly you avoid cropping and “creative aperture plate cutting” to fit screen. Once the screen and proper lens is installed an SMPTE loop run thru the projector will give proper aperture cutting instructions for all formats,this should never be done with just a white light projecd onto the screen. First step is to deterine the exact center of the screen which can be marked with some sort of tape that can be seen from the booth then the projector can be centurned properly,once that is done th loop can be run and apertures cut. In days when we had movable masking a set of tape marks was put on he screen to mark proper width of flat/scope image to enable techs to properly set open close settings of the masking motor.

robboehm on June 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Never experienced the national anthem. Did do God Save the Queen in Toronto and London, England, not Ontario.

Vito, as a person of knowledge, can you tell me something about screen sizes. I always thought that the wide proscenium at the Bellerose might have given it an advantage since every bit of the opening was filled with the Cinemascope screen. Were they standard or was there some sort of formula involving distance from the projection booth? I’m sure some of the theatres couldn’t have had too wide a screen because of structural limitations.

Although our dialogue is taking place on the Floral my home port was the Bellerose which was a block and a half away. Oddly enough if I were venturing out of town it was usually to Queens Village rather than Floral Park. When I got wheels it was everywhere since I wanted to experience as many theatres as possible.

Vito on June 22, 2011 at 7:17 am

Sounds like my kinda projectionist robboehn Unlike the Floral and Bellrose most of the Century houses did have curtain controls in the booth and we would always perform what was called a Delux. After the trailers, shorts, what have you, we would close the curtain and reopen them for the feature. We never showed the masking moving in a change from flat to Scope which was done while the masking was covered by the moving curtain. Some of the theates did not permit “cutting rcords” which meant when it was time to start the show you were not permitted to cut the record or fade it out the music it had to finish before starting the show. That was not the case everywhere but most Century theatres. Do you also remember we ran the Star-Spangeled Banner before the first show on all holidays?

In those days when you worked for Century you put on a show.

robboehm on June 22, 2011 at 5:54 am

All the references to the curtain are interesting when, as a usual patron of the Bellerose, the projectionist did some amazing things to create a theatrical experience – on a 20th Century Fox picture he would only have the sound on for the drum intro and only open the curtains for the swell of the music, particularly effective since the speakers were behind the curtain. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. No picture, but you could hear the Nautilus, then project the image on the curtain, like water. The guy was a phenom!

BoxOfficeGirl on June 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

I just updated the photo of the theatre. Hope you all like it. Is there a way to add more pictures?

donidarko on June 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Floral Park’s most memorable Universal Pictures releases during the 70s…Airport 1975, The Other Side of the Mountain, The Sentinel, Airport ‘77, Jaws, Rollercoaster, Earthquake, Jaws 2, The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings, American Graffiti, The Car, Family Plot, The Greek Tycoon, The Hindenburg, Midway, The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2, Two-Minute Warning, Slap Shot, W.C. Fields and Me, Gray Lady Down.

Vito on April 26, 2011 at 2:33 am

Yup it was the only movie theatre I can recall on LI that had no curtain controls in the booth. Eventually I believe the lights were controled from the booth however the curtain was never motorised to my knowledge.

Vito on April 25, 2011 at 4:33 am

When I worked the Floral in the mid 60s managers and front ot the house staff were used to work the curtain and operate the lights from backstage. There were no lighting or curtain conrtols in the booth. A buzzer system was used to signal turning up the house lights snd pull the curtain. A signal was rec’d in the booth earlier to alert us that someone was in fact backstage awaiting our signal.

robboehm on April 25, 2011 at 3:59 am

It’s interesting to note that the front of the marquee says Floral Park when the name of the theatre was the Floral. This was not the marquee that I remember so it had been changed or modified at some point in time. The vertical also doesn’t look the same as I remembered it. Theatres often changed marquees but, generally, only eliminated verticals so I may be wrong. Needless to say I came up with an exception recalling the new vertical installed at the Triboro, which I actually witnessed.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Also came across this brief article from examiner.com, noting the vestiges of Floral Park’s cinematic heritage that remain in the Floral Terrace catering hall (as well as a Firestone Tire Shop that was once the Lily Theatre)on Jericho Turnpike. The article also notes that theater seats from the famous and long lost Roxy Theatre in Manhattan are now located in a former meeting hall at the old Masonic Temple, built in 1929 at 29 Tulip Avenue!

This photo of the Floral is included in the article, along with a vintage image of the Lily. The movie playing listed on the Floral’s marquee must have been in re-release, as it was first released in 1920.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Here’s an updated link to the Floral Terrace Ballroom photo gallery, which provides over 20 shots of the upstairs ballroom and its incorporation of the Floral Theatre’s original coffered ceiling. The upper arch of the proscenium and sounding board, as well as the crowing arches to what must have been the organ pipe chambers, are clearly visible.

This page provides a brief and sketchy history of the building, from the same website. According to that history, the theatre opened on April 27, 1927, with a bill that included “The Princess of Hoboken” and the Hal Roach short, “Duck Soup.” There is a listing on IMDB.COM for a film titled “The Princess from Hoboken,” which is given a release date of April 1, 1927. Meanwhile, the short feature “Duck Soup” is noteworthy as being the very first film in which Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appear as a comedic “team.” They had appeared together in two previous short films, but this was the first time they played their classic “Stan” and “Ollie” characters.

The page also makes mention of an organ that was installed at a cost of $25,000, but does not offer any further details. Similarly, a date of April 11, 1929, is given for the first “talkie” to play the Floral, but no other information – such as the title of the feature – is provided.

robboehm on April 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm

There was an earlier theatre closer to Tyson Av, per earlier notes. It was called the Lily. It is on Cinema Treasures.

Also, on the subject of parking vs neighborhood theatres, the Bellerose was the dollar house in the area until Century decided to close it. Then they made the Floral the dollar house but business was so bad they reopened the Bellerose. Reason location. The Bellerose was two blocks from the Cross Island Parkway and at the point where Braddock Avenue met Jericho Tpke/Jamaica Av.. It was also accessible by NYC buses as well as the private Schenck line.

Incidentally many Floral Park people always went to the Bellerose because the western part of the village south of the Long Island Rail Road was linked to Bellerose by a tunnel at the grammar school that emerged a couple of blocks from the theatre. Those living further east could also use the tunnel at the LIRR station. Bellerose was the shopping area for a large segment of Floral Park because of these tunnels.

BoxOfficeGirl on March 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

John, would that be the same architect as the one who did the Bellerose? They were both Century Theatres.

johndereszewski on March 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Earlier today, my wife and I had lunch at a restaurant about a block west of the old Floral. It was really a treat seeing the very well preserved facade. The pictures previously posted of the upper ballroom were also pretty terrific.

Given the fact that this was a highly regarded theater, I am surprised that the architect has yet to be identified. Can anyone out there help fill in this gap?

In addition, the extensive use of Roman arches on the facade also indicates at least a neo-Romanesque influence.