Shore Theatre

1301 Surf Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11224

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Shore Theatre

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The Loew’s Coney Island Theatre seated 2,472 when it opened on June 17, 1925 with Blanche Sweet and Ronald Colman in “The Sporting Venus”. It was taken over by the Brandt Theatres circuit in May 1964 and was renamed Shore Theatre. In early-1966, film use had ceased and live theatre was presented, but this was a short lived venture, and films returned.

By 1971, the Shore Theatre had begun running X-Rated adult movies and was possibly closed around March 1973. It has remained unused and empty ever since.

On the evening of October 29, 2012, the historic ‘Shore’ blade sign on the front right hand side of the theatre was badly damaged by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy and it has been removed.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 151 comments)

Coney_Island_History_Project
Coney_Island_History_Project on August 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Coney Island’s Shore Theater, a film by Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project and author of “Coney Island Lost and Found.” The film features some of his photos of the interior of the Shore… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jllTm9frw2k

JamesD
JamesD on August 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

That video is boring. I’d like to see more of the theater, not the abandoned office building.

AmusingTheZillion
AmusingTheZillion on August 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

Charles Denson’s photos/video of the Shore Theater are beautiful and heartbreaking. Let’s hope a buyer who wants to restore the interior comes forward as a result of seeing the photos. Things are looking up for the north side of Surf Ave. There are new restaurants and bars including a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria as well as a new commercial building breaking ground on an empty lot until recently owned by Shore Theater owner Horace Bullard.

If no private buyer comes forward, the City should save the Shore by either buying it —the selling price is now $13M—or a Demolition by Neglect lawsuit which, if successful, requires the owner to fix up the property or sell it. More in my new blog post about the Shore.

JamesD
JamesD on August 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I’d agree with you if we could see more of them, but it’s only like 4 photos of the theater then the office building. I’d love to see the building saved, but I doubt it will come from a youtube video that only 260 people have watched.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Article with plenty of photos in NY Daily News on 8/24/12 by Lore Croghan Link

Text:

The last of Coney Island’s movie palaces has been locked up tight for four decades – but flapper-era glamour flourishes within, shining through peeling plaster.

Historian Charles Denson got a rare glimpse inside the Shore Theater, and is sharing what he saw in a photo exhibit at the Coney Island History Project.

“They don’t build ‘em like this anymore,” said Denson, 59, whose visit to the Surf Ave. landmark took his breath away.

“It was constructed during the Roaring Twenties, the last time there were grand plans for Coney Island,” he said. “My hope is the Shore is part of Coney Island’s future, too.”

When the Shore’s caretaker Andy Badalamenti let him take photos in 2006, the theater’s seats were torn out and there was rubble underfoot. But the electricity worked perfectly – Badalamenti had rewired the building.

“I went into the balcony with flashlights,” Denson remembered. “Andy said, ‘Wait a minute,’ and flipped a switch, and it all lit up. I was awestruck.”

The golden glow lit up a mix of neo-Renaissance grandeur and nautical fantasy he had never noticed when he went to the movies there as a teen.

Graceful arches flanked the stage where celebs like Al Jolson and Jerry Lewis had performed, and the soaring ceiling was crowned by a 150-foot-in-diameter dome.

In the mezzanine, a dramatic semicircle of pillars stood before walls painted glowing red. Overhead, plaster mermaids set in sea-green diamonds danced.

Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, sailed above the sea sirens.

What he saw gave him hope: “Theaters in much worse shape have been brought back to life,” he said.

Denson promised Badalamenti, who died last year, that he wouldn’t go public with his pix to avoid provoking break-ins by scavengers.

But this year, a photographer with a blog about abandoned theaters, Matt Lambros, figured out a way into the Shore. His pictures are all over the Internet, with pickup up by Gothamist and Huffington Post. The Shore’s secrets are secrets no longer – and security has been beefed up at the building to foil copycats.

The theater – a Loew’s for much of its five-decade run and a porn palace right at the end – was long vacant when Horace Bullard bought it in the late 1970s.

It won’t sit idle much longer, he said – he’s putting it up for sale by year’s end after he repairs the building exteriors, which he has permits to work on.

“Somebody will come along and know what to do with it,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place. It has a name. It has a history.”

He has been widely criticized for letting the Shore languish, most recently by Coney Island’s unofficial mayor Dick Zigun – who said city officials should take it over through eminent domain.

Bullard shrugged off the salvo: “Dick Zigun is not the city,” he said.

The man who mothballed the famous movie palace has at least one defender, though.

“He installed a new roof and stopped water damage – it cost a fortune,” Denson said. “He’s a controversial figure, but whatever you think of him, he preserved our theater.”

The photos stay up through Oct. 14 at CIHP on W. 12th St. See www.coneyislandhistory.org

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Pic from Brownstoner of Shore vertical blade after Hurricane Sandy posted in photos.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

LuisV
LuisV on June 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

I am an eternal optimist. Now that Coney Island’s future is brighter than it has been in decades it is possible that this actually bodes well for a restoration of this historic theater.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

I am an eternal optimist.

You and Nellie Forbush!

LuisV
LuisV on June 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I don’t believe that all old theaters can be saved. At the end of the day they must be able to pay for themselves if not in the renvation phase, certainly in the operating phase. That said, I never lost hope on the Kings and that will be one of the biggest success stories. I am also hopeful on the Brooklyn Paramount being eventually brought back to a full performing arts space and Chicago’s Uptown. I am NOT optimistic on the RKO Ketihs Flushing. Alas, we can’t win them all. Speaking of which, check out the page for the United Palace (Loews 175th Street). They have a campaign to bring movies back and they are more than halfway to their goal of $40,000. I just contributed myself! Finally! A real palace that will have regularly scheduled films in Manhattan!

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