Gables Theatre

173 Merrick Road,
Merrick, NY 11566

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NYDenn on March 21, 2014 at 12:52 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.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 26, 2012 at 5:49 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?

JPDellova on April 25, 2012 at 8:27 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.

musicom67 on November 23, 2011 at 3:39 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.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 31, 2011 at 12:20 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.

Vito on August 31, 2011 at 3:42 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 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

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

Vito on August 30, 2011 at 10:53 am

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 8:27 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.

robboehm on July 31, 2010 at 7:27 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.

Vito on July 31, 2010 at 5:34 am

rvd I just saw your post regarding Prudentional and the theatre’s neglect. It was, as you probably know, a fact that the company spent little to no money on those theatres. I was so happy when UA took many of them over and began fixing them up. The booths were one of the first thongs to get attention with upgraes and improvements in projection thanks of course to the one and only Joe Kelly.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 31, 2010 at 4:56 am

Thanks for the great ad and pictures,guys.

CConnolly1 on August 13, 2009 at 4:19 am

RobertR…did you mean to post a photo of the Gables from that site? Here is one…
View link

robboehm on February 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm

It’s interesting that the executive offices of the chain that operated this theatre were next store to the theatre. I’d been in many Prudential houses in my day but it was sadly neglected to put it mildly.

Vito on January 16, 2008 at 4:22 am

The Prudential home ofice was next door to the Gables.
Executives would screen new and unreleased movies in the mornings.

GeorgeF on January 16, 2008 at 3:15 am

Many good memories of going to the Merrick gables in the 1950’s – it was old THEN. Highly decorated ceiling, sweeping balcony – likely 1930’s vintage.

McGinty on March 14, 2007 at 6:21 am

I remember going to the Gables quite often in the early 1980s. It was cheap and they had a pretty liberal policy regarding us 13-year-olds getting in to see R-rated movies like Blade Runner and Scarface. I remember the theater itself being dirty but fun, perfect for a teenager. I think it was closed by 1985.

kencmcintyre on January 29, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Costas Poulikidis bought the Gables in 1984 with redevelopment in mind:

RobertR on September 18, 2006 at 3:42 pm

A fun 1966 double bill, check out all these second run theatres
View link

flickhead on December 14, 2004 at 8:38 am

The Merrick Mall Cinema was north of Sunrise Highway. I remember going there in the mid-1960’s for Saturday afternoon horror matinees. When I revisited the place ten years ago (after being away for a long time), the site was a flower & gift shop.

The Merrick Theatre was on Merrick Road, in a shopping center on the south side, close to the Freeport border. In the 1970’s they used to show a lot of foreign films there.

My earliest recollections of going to The Merrick Gables was for the mid-60’s reissue of Disney “Cinderella” and the 1966 double-bill of “The Silencers” plus “Murderer’s Row.”

Best regards,

chconnol on November 8, 2004 at 7:18 am

Shocking to me that more people haven’t written about this theater. I must’ve seen dozens of movies here during the 70’s. No one seems to remember this but during the 70’s, Disney used to re-release virtually it’s entire collection of movies from “Fantasia” to “Bednobs and Broomsticks” and everything in between. The Gables is where I saw a LOT of them for some reason. Saw “Mary Poppins” here in the summer of 1975 and the entire theater (PACKED HOUSE) was clapping along during “Stepping Time”. Beautiful memory.

There used to be three theaters in Merrick. One was The Gables which was on the north side of Merrick Road in one of the main parts of town. The second one was also on Merrick Road about a half mile or so east of the exit/entrance to the Meadowbrook Parkway. The third was just north of Sunrise Highway on (I think) Merrick Avenue in another main part of the town.

snapolit on November 8, 2004 at 6:56 am

It served a purpose back in the 70s and 80s. I think I saw Animal House there at least a half dozen times. For under a buck. Can’t beat that. Grew up in Merrick and there were a few cool neighborhood theaters. Then they all closed one after another. For a while in the 90s there were none. (And parents in the ‘burbs wonder why their kids are so bored out of their minds that they sit on the side of the parkway chugging beers and smoking weed.)