Loew's Melba Theatre

300 Livingston Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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Keeney Theatre, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The former Loew’s Melba Theatre stood at the intersection of Livingston Street and Hanover Place in downtown Brooklyn. The palatial theatre was part of the Loew’s chain and stood within walking distance of the Metropolitan Theatre, Tivoli Theatre and Duffield Theatre.

The Keeney’s Theatre was opened in 1915 and was taken over by Loew’s Inc. on June 9, 1926, and renamed Loew’s Livingston Theatre. On January 9, 1928, it was renamed Loew’s Melba Theatre.

A very early casualty of television, closing in 1954. It was razed for an outdoor parking lot, which also met its fate in the 1980’s when a high-rise office building rose on the site. It was built for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. This has since been replaced by a four level parking & commercial structure.

In the end glass and steel have replaced stone and neon.

Contributed by Philip Goldberg

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2010 at 3:36 am

Gin is correct about this theater having its entrance in mid-block between Nevins and Bond. The photo of the Keeney Theatre’s facade in a 1915 article in the trade journal Architecture and Building shows slivers of the adjacent structures on both sides. A person approaching Livingston Street from the north along Hanover Place would have seen the ornate theater front almost directly ahead of them. The theater’s auditorium, at right angles to the lobby building, was on the south side of the block, adjacent to Schermerhorn Street.

The article also has three interior photos of the Keeney Theatre. It’s now available online at Google Books (click on their Page 140 link.)

Brooklyn’s current Greyhound bus terminal has an address of 288 Livingston, and takes up the half block bounded by Livingston, Bond, and Schermerhorn streets that once included Loew’s Melba. This is not, as the intro currently states, a high-rise office building, but a four-level parking and commercial structure. The theater’s entrance was located where the garage entrance is now, opposite the end of Hanover Place. The tiled hipped roof above the entrance can be picked out in a 1954 aerial photo available for viewing at Historic Aerials, so it was still intact at that time.

Tinseltoes on September 9, 2010 at 7:58 am

Joe, it’s wonderful to be able to see those Architecture & Building photos with such clarity. I have tried numerous times to view them on microfilm at public libraries, but they were always too dark to see much detail. I have never been able to find out whether it was the fault of the microfilm, the viewing machines, or both. Is the entire publication run of A&B accessible through Google, or just certain issues?

johndereszewski on November 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Joe, it was great to view your vintage photo of this theater. I must have missed it when it was first posted.

Given that Joe’s Sept. 9th posting clearly cofirms my earlier statement that a parking garage – and an extremely ugly one at that – currently occupies the site and NOT an MTA office building, the introducion should be changed to reflect this well documented fact.

InesitadaSilva on December 16, 2010 at 5:39 am

Hello All,
I’ve found the discussion thread above fascinating, having arrived thanks to Tinseltoes response to my query posted over at: /theaters/3979/ regarding Keeney’s Theatre. It’s a pity though so many of the links above are no longer active – I couldn’t see the photos of the inside of the theatre, nor the ebook because I am outside the US. Never mind!

My German grandmother was part of a vaudeville act, sometimes called the Six Rockets and also the Six Marinelli Girls between 1923 and 1931, and toured much of the US. She can be seen in front of a Keeney’s poster here: View link The back of the photo says 1925.

Following the note above that the theatre became Loew’s in 1925, would anyone be able to indicate when exactly the theatre changed hands in 1925? It would help me date the photo more precisely.

I would have many other questions related to my grandmother’s life as a Loew’s and Vaudeville act, salary, life on the road, the theaters she played and so on. I have more interesting photos and vaudeville posters to share which I think will be of benefit to this community too. One challenge is finding the names for the theatres shown. I trust the ‘Looking for help’ message board will be an appropriate starting place. The background is that I am writing a book on my grandmother’s life and origins. Many thanks in advance for any assistance. Inesita

Tinseltoes on December 16, 2010 at 6:39 am

The first Loew’s name was Livingston (honoring Livingston Street, and not spelled Livingstone). According to legend, Livingston was discarded because it had too many letters for the electrical signage that was planned, and also might cause confusion with Loew’s Lexington in Manhattan.

johndereszewski on December 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm

While I guess the past names for this theater have been further clarified, the introduction still incorrectly states that the site is now occupied by a high rise MTA office building. As clearly noted above, this is not correct and the site now “hosts” an extremely ugly parking garage.

Hopefully, this error will also be addressed.

Tinseltoes on December 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

The theatre was still being operated as Keeney’s in an ad in the Brooklyn Sunday Eagle on April 4th, 1927, with no mention of a Loew’s connection. The Keeney’s policy then was a sub-run feature film and vaudeville, with program changes on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s possible that Loew’s was now in control but taking its time about a re-naming.

Tinseltoes on March 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

On this night only in 1952, Loew’s Melba presented eight acts of “Vodvil,” with the popular Pat. Rooney, Jr. as headliner. Also on the program were Paramount’s Technicolor “When Worlds Collide” and Paramount’s B&W “Submarine Command,” both in the third day of a week’s engagement.

teawfran on August 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Back in the late 30’s and through the 40’s and 50’s I grew up in the downtown area of Brooklyn on Smith Street. When my mother was decorating the apartment she bought a remnant, carpet, for our living room. It was some carpet left over from the Melba movie theater when they redecorated. It was beautiful, red with a gold leaf running through the carpet. Also remember going to the movies on Friday nights, Vaudeville acts were still preformed. There was also dish night. You got a dish and eventually could have a whole set of dishes.

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