Port Washington Cinemas

116 Main Street,
Port Washington, NY 11050

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The Beacon Theatre opened in 1927, and was once a large, venerable single screener. In the early-1970’s it was one of the first local theaters to be triplexed, with the balcony becoming one theater and two downstairs.

It was later converted into a quad (with two upstairs), then a five-plex (with the old stage being turned into a theater), and finally a seven-plex, with the addition of two alleged "theaters" that hold around forty people over six rows of beat up seats. Operated by Clearview Cinemas in recent years, it was taken over in June 2013 by Bow-Tie Cinemas, who took most Clearview locations.

Contributed by SteveSmith

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

gtdriver98
gtdriver98 on June 30, 2006 at 7:59 am

I managed this theater for nearly 6 years from 1998 to 2003. Clearview Cinemas operates it now and has for the past 10-12 years or so. For much of that time, including when I worked there, they only did the bare minimum to keep the place running. We ended up doing a lot of work ourselves because the contractors they hired were terrible. You can see from the poor design of the candy stand and the shoddy work they did overall with the lobby renovation in 1998-99. Management at Clearview has changed since then for the better and I understand they are preparing to make some more renovations, including a handicapped bathroom on the ground floor and joining the 2 tiny theaters to make 1 larger auditorium (though they may have some trouble with that as a major support column runs through the wall separating the two). They already replaced the curtains in the auditoriums and are also supposed to be replacing the seats in the entire building.

As for the days of old, when the theater was known as the Beacon theater and was a single screen house, much of that can still be seen if you do a little digging. Behind the screen in Theater 1 is a closet which leads to a covered up stairwell. If you open up the small access hatch and climb down into the basement, you can see the stairwell which came from behind the original stage. Climb through another small opening and you’ll find the entire orchestra pit still there and largely intact, sitting under the front of theaters 1 & 2. The back theater was built across the stage and I suspect that the stage was destroyed in the process. The owner of the building insists that he had the organ buried in concrete when the theater was cut up, but I can assure you that it is not there. The only remains of the organ are what is left of the blower, made by the Spencer Turbine company. Going back up into the closet, you can pop a few ceiling tiles and lo and behold, you come across a metal rung ladder. Climb about 25-30 feet up and you’ll find the original catwalk. The presidium arch over the stage is still there and peering down through a stage light opening, you can still see the floor of the front of the stage.

I’ve heard that the theater has fallen apart in recent years, which is a shame. It was never the nicest theater around, but it was a great place to see a movie with friends or family. I hope the renovations are done the right way- and maybe they will help make it a great place once more.

robboehm
robboehm on February 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm

The two, “alleged” smaller theatres are in former stores. In the older, free standing theatres it was common to have a long lobby to the auditorium. This provided a store on either side. Hence, the alleged theatres.

robboehm
robboehm on March 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm

During WWII the people of Port Washington had a scrap metal drive with the slogan “Let’s beat the pans off the Nazis”. A photo of the collection in 1942 in front of the theatre, with the marquee prominently shown is among the photos which are part of the Long Island Memories of the LILRC Digitalization Program -http://207.97.148.182 click on advanced search and indicate Beacon Theatre. I don’t have the techie skill to allow you direct access. This may, possibly, be the same 1942 photo Lost Memory mentions but I can’t pull up either image from the 2007 posting, whether this is temporary or not I don’t know. Usually, I can pick these up.

robboehm
robboehm on March 13, 2009 at 9:16 am

Well, at least we now have the story of the mountain of metal in front of the theatre. Without the explanation it just looks like junk. This is all the trash they cleaned out of the theatre after the late Saturday night show.

robboehm
robboehm on March 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm

And on the subject of changing library links, the one posted by Lost Memory dated 1961 was probably the one showing a new marquee showing the Skouras name being erected which appears on the same site as the two from Warren G. Harris. If you would please do the honors, sir.

popcornlover11050
popcornlover11050 on September 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

View link

I know its a different theater but its in the same town and im sure of interest to some.

popcornlover11050
popcornlover11050 on September 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

View link

I know its a different theater but its in the same town and im sure of interest to some.

robboehm
robboehm on March 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

On March 23, 1962 Skouras reopened the Beacon with new decor, seating, screen projection and AC and heating. “All designed to provide the ultimate in motion picture viewing for the discriminating audience!” The opening attraction was “A Majority of One” with Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness. On March 23, 2012 TCM screened the same movie. Serendipity?

robboehm
robboehm on May 31, 2014 at 10:50 am

Just recently saw an old Century Theatres ad from 1931. At that time is was part of that chain.

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