Unqua Theatre

Main Street,
Farmingdale, NY 11735

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The Unqua Theatre was built in 1916. It was located on the east side of Main Street a few doors north of Conklin Street. The house operated through the silent era, but appears to have closed in the late-1920’s.

Buildings on part of the block on which the Unqua Theatre was located have recently been leveled, and several other buildings on the block are currently vacant and may be slated for demolition as well. If the Unqua Theatre building has not yet been razed it probably soon will be. In the 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook it is listed as the 400-seat Unique Theatre.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

robboehm
robboehm on April 17, 2015 at 7:26 am

I read someplace that the Unqua, too, like the nearby Strand, also started life as something else, a primitive shed-like structure, and was later remodeled. The Wardell Brothers of Amityville, I believe, were responsible for the reincarnation.

robboehm
robboehm on April 17, 2015 at 7:36 am

What I find interesting about this is that there was an Opera House in Farmingdale before either the Unqua or the Strand were created. Customarily the Opera House became the first venue for movies in a town. The Opera House subsequently became a factory.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 17, 2015 at 10:58 am

The last section of this web page from the Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society says that the Unqua began in a shed-like structure. The April 7, 1916, issue of The Long Islander had this item about the theater construction project then underway:

“A scaffold in use at the Unqua Theatre, being erected on Main street by Smith & Beierling, collapsed Tuesday, badly shaking up several of the men employed on the job. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, although several were badly scratched.”
It’s possible that the 1916 project was the rebuilding of the Unqua’s original shed-like building, but I’ve found no other items about the construction project, nor any earlier mentions of the theater, so I’m not certain.

CinemaTour actually lists the Opera House. It’s possible they have a source indicating that it did show movies at some point, but I haven’t found any. The caption of a photo of the Opera House about ¾ of the way down this web page says that it opened in 1909, was converted into a woodworking shop in 1915, and was destroyed by fire in 1923. It did present some vaudeville shows during its brief life as a theater, though, and vaudeville shows were often accompanied by a reel or two of movies.

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