Gables Theatre

173 Merrick Road,
Merrick, NY 11566

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Gables Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Another neighborhood second run house. In the early-1940’s it was part of the Prudential Theatres chain. 1970’s and 1980’s, the price would be the last two digits of the year.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

robboehm on July 31, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Vito, the two worst theatres I was ever in were the Gables and the Westbury. Both were dumps. The Westbury had character but the Gables was just a box. If you look at the postings you’ll see that it was next to the Prudential office and movies were previewed there. What does this tell you about Prudential.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

This theater should be listed as “demolished.” The address also no longer exists, which is why it won’t map properly or offer a correct street view. The numbering along Merrick Rd in the village of Merrick seems to have changed since the Gables' existence – at least on the south side of the street where the theater stood. Across the street on the north side, 172 and 174 Merrick Rd still stand (a law office and a plumbing & heating supply company, respectively). On the south side stands an animal hospital with an address of 1798 Merrick Rd that seems fairly recently constructed, a parking lot and two smaller and older looking one-story commerical buildings with the addresses 1800 and 1808. Not to mention that the addresses run in opposite directions on either side of the street! I think the law office and plumbing company probably had their old addresses grandfathered in for business purposes.

In any event, any trace of the theater is gone today. My best guess is that it stood where the parking lot and animal hospital sit today.

Vito on August 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm

There was a sky light in the ceilng of the Gables booth I still recall the day a giant praying mantis hovered over me all day watching me work. :)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Wasn’t that a movie, Vito? Peter Graves? 1957 or so? Title eludes me… ;}

Vito on August 31, 2011 at 6:42 am

Ed, That was “The Deadly Mantis” from 1957 but it wasn’t Graves it was Craig Stevens and William Hopper
We had a ton of those giant bug movies in the 50s. But no, my Mantis was not quite that big :) Big bugs alays scared me, when I lived and worked in Hawaii a giant flying roach got into the booth and terrorised me for hours.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm

That’s right. Graves was in the giant grasshopper flick, I believe was called “Beginning of the End” from around the same time! Too many giant insect films to keep up with! I don’t think I’ve seen either of those films since they used to play on WNEW TV back in the days of Creature Features!

In any event, the street view was kindly unlocked, so I was able to correct the location to where I believe the theater must have stood, across the street from 172 and 174 Sunrise Highway. Seems accurate… If you compare the street view with the 1983 shot of the Gables posted earlier from the American Classic Images website, you’ll see that both pictures show the dotted white lines on the street veering off from the double yellow line, indicating the beginning of a westbound left-turn lane on Sunrise.

musicom67 on November 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

2209 Merrick Rd., Merrick is the current address. Technically, the theater was stripped to the steel back in the late ‘80s, and the building was rebuilt and repurposed. The 'theater’ frame is now a 2-story office building and the Merrick Rd. streetfront are now stores. It was named for the housing development built in the 1920’s by Charles Fox known as the “Merrick Gables”. Matter of fact, Fox Blvd. is on the side of the former theater and a street view down the street will show examples of these Spanish-type homes.

JPDellova on April 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I managed the Gables Theater in 1972. It was a great place with a fun staff of mainly young high school kids I inherited from my predecessor. I don’t remember hiring or firing anyone during the six or seven months I ran the place. I’d eat either for free in exchange for a few free passes at a husband and wife place down the street that served the same fare every night, I think it was a choice of meat loaf or spaghetti and meatballs; it was the size of most phone booths, the two people who ran it were a riot, really lovable. One time he mentioned in passing that he was chef and his wife said, disdainfully, “You aren’t a chef, a chef knows how to make more than two dishes!”

While I was there a couple of the favorite movies we ran were Cabaret, and Frenzy, which drew larger than usual audiences. Back then we’d run movies for several weeks because the longer it ran in the same house the more the percentage moved to the theater chain from the distributor. During a showing of Frenzy I went down to check on the place after everything got quiet and emerged from the auditorium to see my head usher tieless and standing behind the candy counter, alone. I went over and he pointed to the store room. When I went in the counter girl was sitting on a chair with the boy’s tie wrapped around her neck. The sight made me freeze, they’d gotten me and had a good laugh over it. When it rained I had to go around the auditorium placing buckets because there were so many holes in the roof, but it didn’t stop people from enjoying the films. Great loose atmosphere and a lot of fun.

I managed to get in trouble with the front office accountant because he decided it would be a good idea to raise the ticket price and show only one movie. Fiasco, it was a like watching a waterhole dry up during a draught. I got in trouble because I very methodically, and on my own time, charted the attendance figures of the place for the previous five years; it was the steadiest line you ever saw till that genius decided to tamper with things. At the managers meeting I presented my findings and told the upper UA management that the place had a local audience that went there whenever a new feature arrived. The whole family would see it during the two or three weeks it played and the small variance was due to people from neighboring towns who went a little out of their way to see a film that was no longer playing anywhere else. But when the price went up and it was cut to one movie and cartoons the locals stopped coming. The regional manager and district manager and accountant began shouting at one another, each blaming one of the others or both for the unwise decision, which was reversed immediately! My reward for this extra effort was to have all three act as though I’d done something wrong. Disgusted — the pay was terrible and I lived pretty far off in Commack at the time — I gave them a week’s notice. The district manager asked me to reconsider. I said a hefty raise would help. He said it was out of the question, no one was getting anything, the chain was on a low budget, etc, so I left. But for the most part managing the place was a lot of fun.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

If musicom67 is correct about the theater’s location (Merrick Road at Fox Blvd), then the street view is off by a number of blocks. Can anyone confirm what the nearest intersection was?

NYDenn on March 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I remember seeing “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” & “Diner” there on a double bill like around ‘82. I also remember back in the 70’s the Gables used to show the Disney summer film festival for the summers of like '74 & '75. It was where they kind of took over the theater from like the last week of June till the last week of August. They would have a different Disney double feature ever week. Generally one animated film along with a live action film. Say “Cinderella” with “The Love Bug”. Fond memories. Oh yeah-I also remember seeing “The Aristocats” there in like '73 as part of a double feature with a Disney live action. In between-they ran a coming attraction for the then new James Bond film-“Live & let die”. THe kids started chanting for the Aristocats to start.

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