United Palace of Cultural Arts
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The fifth and last of the Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” to be built in New York, Loew’s 175th Street Theatre was thought to be the most elaborate of architect Thomas Lamb’s endeavors. Originally seating 3,444 when it opened on February 22, 1930 with Norma Shearer in “Their Own Desire” and a stage show “Pearls” from the Times Square Capitol Theatre. The exterior of the building is in the style of a spectacular Neo-Assyrian fortress, taking up an entire city block, and has decorative features around the entire building. The walls of the auditorium are embellished with Indo-Chinese decoration, designed by Manhattan decorative specialist Harold Rambusch, which are perforated and have an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colored hidden lights behind. The foyer features a palatial staircase leading to a grandiose, aurora borealis headed by a goddess decoration, all in the style of a gaudy Hindu temple. The Loew’s 175th Street Theatre is the only ‘Wonder Theatre’ to retain its original Robert Morton 4 manual 23 ranks ‘Wonder’ organ in situ. Loew’s closed the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre in March 1969 with Keir Dullea in “2001:A Space Odyssey”.
The theatre became home to Christ United Church, founded by the late evangelist Reverend Ike, and was known as The Palace Cathedral for church services. In recent years it has also been used as a concert venue and is known as the United Palace when booked for such events.
In June 2013 a fundraising campaign was begun to purchase a digital projector, which will be used to screen independent, foreign and classic movies. This project was successful, and the first movie screened in the theatre for over 44 years was “Casablanca” on November 17, 2013. It is equipped with a 4k DCP projector, a 50ft wide screen and 5.1 surround sound. In July 2017 it was announced the Robert Morton organ would be removed from the building by the New York Theatre Organ Society to undergo a complete overhaul. By early-2019 the restored organ was back in the building.
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