Charles Theatre

193 Avenue B,
New York, NY 10009

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

SaraTonin on May 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

is this the place where they used to have balls, a la Paris Is Burning?

pamelajfk on August 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

Oh no, that is so sad. It was beautiful. This is the place where I saw a copy of the Zapruder film in November 1964. Anyone else?

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on February 28, 2012 at 6:50 am

I recently photographed the Charles Theatre

Take a look here.

roots66 on June 19, 2010 at 5:19 am

Here’s a glimpse at the interior.

View link

pamelajfk on June 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

Does anyone recall seeing the Wolper documentary “1000 Days” about the Kennedy administration (b+w) followed by a screening of a copy of the Zapruder film in late November/early December 1964?

Is anyone aware of any other early screenings of the Zapruder film, which was not released to the general public until the mid-70’s?

Thank you.

allanxk on December 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

There’s a nice article by Charles L. Mee, Jr. on the Charles in the November 1962 issue of Horizon magazine: “WHERE TALENT IS TRIED AND TESTED, At the Charles Theatre in New York the art of film has found a smoky and uproarious arena for self-criticism.”

meredithlee on November 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Reverend Carlos Torres is working to restore the theater:
View link

jbenzon on June 12, 2009 at 8:08 am

The theater also ran jazz matinees on Sunday afternoons in the early 60s. I remember seeing Jerome Richardson and Les Spann playing flute duets or flute and guiter duets, among other acts. It helped that the theater was diagonally across the avenue from Stanley’s, one of the earliest of the hipster bars in the far east.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 9, 2009 at 6:22 am

The Bijou Theatre was vividly described in yesterday’s “Metropolitan Diary” in The New York Times. The letter by a former patron is the second entry here:
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AlAlvarez on December 15, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Hmmm, so the soft core porn king also owned theatres!

kencmcintyre on December 15, 2008 at 10:44 am

Here is an item from Boxoffice magazine, January 1963:

NEW YORK-Audubon Films has expanded its activities to include exhibition. The company has taken over the Charles Theater in Greenwich Village and will reopen it on January 16, following redecoration and installation of new seats.

Radley H. Metzger, director of Audubon, said the theater would operate on a policy of selected foreign and American films. Opening program will consist of “The Manchurian Candidate” and “A Coming-Out Party”, followed by “Phaedra” and “Lolita”.

robcuny on December 3, 2008 at 8:53 am

I looked in a few years ago between services. The interior appears largely unchanged except that it has been completely painted glossy white.

Locals expect it will be demolished since the Hispanic evangelical church ceased services a couple of years ago, perhaps in response to a violation citation from the Department of Buildings for wrongful use. But Dept. of City Planning records show that the church has not sold the property. So maybe there’s still hope for this unique landmark of New York countercultural theater history.

kencmcintyre on July 13, 2008 at 11:20 am

This is a photo I took off of Google maps. It’s possible that the building is still being used as a church, but at the time this picture was taken the building looked closed and in poor shape:

AlAlvarez on May 16, 2008 at 7:18 pm

In 1952 Brandt sold the Palestine and Charles to Samuel Friedman who then sold them in 1956 to an unnamed company willing to install wide screens and air conditioning.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on May 16, 2008 at 7:05 am

Charles Steiner who ran the Bijou Theater died in June 1946 (Obituary New York Times, 29 June 1946). The theater was probably renamed just after his death. One of his son-in-laws managed the theater for a few years.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 22, 2007 at 8:53 am

The New York Times of November 1, 1925, reported that Delancey-Clinton Realty Company was building four theatres on the Lower East Side, all with Eugene DeRosa as architect. One of the theatres was supposed to be on the SE corner of Avenue B and 12th Street. I don’t know if that became the Bijou or not. The 1928 FDYB lists two theatres for Avenue B and 12th Street, the 500-seat Bijou and the 1,000-seat Shirley. The Shirley is unknown to me, and I can’t find it listed at CT under that or any other name.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 25, 2006 at 3:51 am

A June 2006 photograph that I took of the Charles Theatre on a Sunday morning (church was open through the small doorway) although I didn’t venture inside as there was quite a bit of screaming and wailing going on! Peeking through the door into the foyer, I think the auditorium space is still intact as one room and not subdivided:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 30, 2005 at 12:28 pm

This was a plain, no-frills theatre from the start. Even if there are portions of it still intact, I doubt that you will find anything worth getting up early on a Sunday (or any other) morning.

fjmarkowitz on September 30, 2005 at 8:04 am

I’d love to get inside sometime – I imagine its been divided a few times, but I would be curious to see if anything survives of the movie setup. If that church is still in there perhaps I’ll tryto get in on a Sunday morning!

bamtino on August 28, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Also, the theatre was still known as the Bijou as of June, 1946.

bamtino on August 28, 2005 at 4:07 pm

According to its original Certificate of Occupancy, the building had seating for 502 on the first floor and 98 in the balcony for a nice, round total of 600.

bamtino on August 28, 2005 at 12:50 pm

Announcement of the theatre’s construction, along with those of three other Lower East Side locations, was made in November 1925.
It was one of 12 Manhattan facilities being operated by the Bell Theatre Company in 1937.
By the time of his death in 1946, this, along with the Palestine, was one of two theatres being operated by exhibitor Charles Steiner, who’d begun exhibiting films in 1906 and had earlier run a large circuit of Lower East Side and Harlem locations.
Dan Talbot’s programming of the theatre began in September 1960.