Port Washington Cinemas

116 Main Street,
Port Washington, NY 11050

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

robboehm on April 19, 2019 at 7:09 pm

Three Bow Tie locations, Great Neck, Manhasset and Roslyn have now changed hands. Only two Bow Tie’s left on Long Island are the Herricks and Franklin Square.

GregT on May 23, 2018 at 4:59 am

GAH! I wish I had seen the earlier comments when I first came to this site back in February, I didn’t know they were here! “Sticky” posted over a decade ago that he went to hear and see the Basie Band, and met them backstage! I really wanted it to be true that it had happened. The fact that we know definitively that Basie played it makes the loss of the organ all the more tragic and infuriating. The story until now was that the organ had not been removed, but was intact nonetheless.

GregT on May 23, 2018 at 4:40 am

Hi, Orlando – I am so happy to know that you recovered from the heart attack, and certainly not because of the tidbit(!), for which I otherwise am grateful. It was an important and now iretrievable piece of history, the last of its kind on Long Island, as well as a unique and beautiful instrument. (As a full time professional musician of more than 30 years – part of a rich Port tradition, actually – I can attest to the fact that no two instruments of any sort are exactly alike.) I heard a rumor that, after learning about the organ’s restoration, Count Basie once came to Port from his home in Queens during a tour break to play it. He always loved theater organs, and was taught to play on one in Harlem by Fats Waller. I could swear that I heard about it at the time of his alleged visit, as well as plans for a full concert with the band featuring Basie at the console, but I haven’t found a shred of evidence that either of those things ever happened. I turned 12 late in 1976. Kids tend to hear lots of things that are just talk and believe them to be facts. Regardless, thank you for putting this sad story on the record and the matter to rest. I wish you continued good health and a beautiful Summer – and hopefully, on my weekly visits to town from NYC, I’ll see you at the Town Dock!

Orlando on May 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm

“Death In Venice” came out in 1970-1, the small theatres didn’t exist then, it was a different Dirk Bogarde movie, maybe “Daddy Nostolgia” if my memory still serves me.

Orlando on May 22, 2018 at 1:16 pm

The organ was played right up to the time of the Disney Festivals of 1975-1978, by a POrt Washington THS member who told me she played Disney standards during the festivals. Mr. Djiji was offered money for it but wanted more and as he was soon triplex the theatre. Sadly, the organ console, pipes and motors were destroyed in the conversion of the theatre and he didn’t get a dime for a still playable organ. The projectionist at the time I was there told me about it and he had a piece of it which was of wood that said “Chime”. Glad to add this for you since if I would have died of a heart attack that I had this past March, this tidbit would not be here today for you to rest your minds of the Beacon’s organ.

Texas2step on April 2, 2018 at 5:12 pm

This one opened as the Beacon Theatre on October 15, 1927.

GregT on February 18, 2018 at 10:27 am

Hi, Comfortably Cool – Yes, I e-mailed them about a month ago, but haven’t received a response. Thank you very much for the suggestion!

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 18, 2018 at 8:28 am

Have you tried contacting New York Theatre Organ Society at , or by phone at 845-457-5393?

robboehm on February 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Re the storefront theatres mentioned by Orlando way back when, the only time I was in this theatre was in one of those. Film was, I believe, A Death in Venice with Dirk Bogarde.

GregT on February 17, 2018 at 11:22 am

Does anyone have any information about the fate of the organ? It was restored in the mid-1970s (the “ New York Times” did a feature on it on page 57 of its February 1, 1976 Edition), and was thought to be the last working theater organ on Long Island. Nobody seems to remember what happened to it when the Beacon became the Port Triplex. Thank you!

bmccinemash on November 26, 2015 at 9:09 pm

Thank you Orlando for clearing up some things. Clerview3 took over in September of 1995. I took over running the theatre after you left in 1991

robboehm on May 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

Nighttime photo with new Skouras marquee uploaded.

robboehm on April 7, 2015 at 7:21 am

Three photos as the Beacon uploaded: Memorial Day parade show theater with original marquee and vertical; 1941 scrap metal drive; 1961 marquee modification when Skouras took over management.

Orlando on March 26, 2015 at 10:42 am

Again there is a lot of balogna in this section. Working at this theatre for over three years, Carmi Djiji (G.G. Theatres operated this theatre from 1962 to mid to late 1990’s and changed the name from Beacon to Port Washington Triplex and so on. The two theatres occupying the two storefronts were built primarily, while I was there, for putting in the Hollywood “stinkers” after they flopped on the first three days of opening or for holding a picture that no longer needed a 200 seat theatre. Believe it or not (and I don’t care either way) these two 60 seat theatres sometimes outgrossed the larger theatres in the building. As for Steve Smith’s introduction, the seats where new when installed, the public “beat them up”! Mr. Djiji spent money on his theatres unlike Skouras from which he took over the theatre. He still owns the building and leases it as he won’t sell it. (Real Estate $$$ in Port Washington.) So the ownerships should be changed to Century (the first), Skouras, GG Theatres, Clearview, and Bow Tie. The property that the Sands Point Theatre was is exactly where the Soundview was built. GG also ran the Sands Point. I loved the name Clearview’s Soundview. And “That’s the facts folks!” clear and true.

robboehm on March 26, 2015 at 7:15 am

Photo as Beacon in 1954 and later as Clearview uploaded.

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.

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?

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 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.

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 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 - 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 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.

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.

baffled on July 24, 2005 at 12:15 pm

That is nuts! I had no idea porn ever played there. I seem to recall the Soundview theater had a brief adult run (so I heard – this was many years prior to the Soundview Shopping Ctr’s remodeling – it was a ghost well through the mid-“80s), and there were at least two very seedy strip clubs in P.W. that survived until "81 or so (one of which went down in a prostitution sting!) I can’t help thinking the rundown "70s PW was a lot more interesting than the glossy, materialistic megaburb it is today.
Be glad to hear from anyone else who knew the town in those days.

That ad notes that the Beacon was owned or operated by GG (?) – not the late GG Allin, I assume, but the business name of the owner? In the mid-“80s I remember my friends who worked for the video store next door bitching about "Mr. GG”, the cranky and stingy owner of the building (this was the time of the senseless expansion detailed above.) Yeah, it’s all coming together…..