Loew's Commodore Theater

105 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

Unfavorite 10 people favorited this theater

Rare shot of the interior's ornamentation from the stage

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally opened in 1926 as the independently operated Commodore Theater. This movie house theater was taken over by Loew’s Inc. and opened as the Loew’s Commodore Theater on September 1, 1927. It became a Yiddish theatre in 1963, showing Yiddish movies and vaudeville, and was known as the Village Theater. It can credit Lenny Bruce as appearing on its stage.

In March 1968 it became the Fillmore East concert venue. Over three years, innumerable bands played here including Santana and Chicago. The Fillmore East finally closed in June 1971. On December 7, 1974 it became the N.F.E. (New Fillmore East) operated by Barry Stuart, with the group Bachman Turner Overdrive playing on opening night. This closed in 1975. It then became the Village East.

In the fall of 1980, it was converted into what was to become New York City’s best and most celebrated gay disco ‘The Saint’, which became famous world-wide. This continued until May 2, 1988 when the doors closed following a non-stop 48 hours party. The building was used spasmodically for a couple of years for live events, then stood empty for a few years until the auditorium was demolished in around 1996.

Today the narrow facade remains and the lobby is now remodeled as an Emigrant Savings Bank. Apartments/condos called Hudson East were constructed on the site of the auditorium. In the lobby of the bank are pictures of the Fillmore, Village Theater and Loews Commodore Theatre as well as some posters from the Fillmore East days.

Contributed by Peter Holowczyk, William Gabel, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 141 comments)

jonbarone
jonbarone on November 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

I was a carpenter for the NFE Theater (New Fillmore East ) during its renovation in 1973 and later went on to work there as an usher. It was opened by a guy named Barry Stein who made his money selling large quantities of marijuana. He hired the old Fillmore security crew to run security for him (Kim was the head of security – do not recall his last name).

Later that year, I lost my apt & lived in the NFE in a 1 room apt (no kitchen) with a shower on the 2nd level to the right of the stage with my dog Rufus. We would roam the theater at night… it was incredible. One New Years Eve show (approximately 1973-74), featured Ike & Tina Turner.

The early show ran over into the late show. So, those who had tickets for the late show were left standing in the rain at midnight… it was terrible organization. Also, the promotor, Barry Stein did not have all the cash to pay Ike & Tina & wound up gving them a huge bag of coke as payment.

Finally, after Barry had taken proceeds from drug deals he was doing and using the cash to keep the NFE Theater business afloat, he skipped town and died of a drug overdose 2 years later.

I remember the final days after Barry had gone and I was still there waiting to relocate, walking through the theater and being totally amazed at its beauty. A sad ending for an incredible building that helped define a generation.

If anyone who has worked there or has questions and would like to email me:

jonbarone
jonbarone on November 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

Correction: Barry Stein used his middle name as his last name hence; “Barry Stuart” is listed as promotor. Also, the head of security was Kim Yarborough and the dates of operation were 1974-1975. – Jonny B

michaelkaplan
michaelkaplan on September 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm

The PBS American Masters documentary on Elia Kazan (mentioned above) was shown again tonight. There was a nice exterior view of the Commodore marquee.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 26, 2011 at 5:46 am

A few older posts (2006) on this site refer to the post-Loews brief incarnation of this as the Yiddish Village Theatre as a result of this 1966 photo of Timothy Leary from Ed Solero’s photobucket:

http://s18.photobucket.com/albums/b110/GuanoReturns/Manhattan%20Movie%20Theaters/Loews%20Commodore%20aka%20Fillmore%20East/?action=view&current=LoewsCommodoreLeary.jpg&sort=ascending.

I found an ad for this period hiding in plain sight in the New York Times.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25725093@N07/6574751901/lightbox/

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 26, 2011 at 10:54 am

Great stories to read.I think Al Jolson must have played every theatre in the USA at one timeor real close too.

bicyclereporter
bicyclereporter on March 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm

If you go inside the bank, they have a select # of pix of the theater’s interiors and exteriors, but none show the ornamentation as we’d like. There are a few Youtube videos of bands playing there, but only with shots of the columns and the proscenium.

Until today. Thanx to the Gothamist, this picture of The Doors shows a shot looking up and amazing detail! A rare shot!

http://gothamist.com/2012/03/19/flashbacks.php#photo-3

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Here’s a clickable version of the link posted by bicyclereporter. An amazing image.

There’s also a link below that photo with three more shots from the same Doors show, starting with this image. Just click on the thumbnail pics below the photo to see the other shots in the series.

thomas27
thomas27 on September 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Since April 22, 2013 it’s an Apple Bank for Savings branch after the acquisition of 29 Emigrant Savings Bank branches.

http://evgrieve.com/2013/04/bank-branch-become-bank-branch-at.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Bank_for_Savings#Acquisition_of_29_Emigrant_Bank_branches_in_2013

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater