167 Graham Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Randforce Amusement Corp.
Architects: Charles A. Sandblom
Styles: Art Deco
Built by the Randforce Circuit at a cost of $240,000 (not including the price of the underlying land), the Rainbow Theatre was one of the few large theatres to be constructed in Brooklyn during the Depression era. Though the double-features were subsequent run for the Williamsburg area, Randforce seemed to be relying on architect Charles Sandblom’s ultra-modern style to draw crowds.
To suit its name, the Rainbow Theatre had a two-story space above the marquee that was built of translucent glass bricks with lighting machinery behind it that created rainbow effects in constantly changing colors. The rainbow motif was repeated in the auditorium, the ceiling of which had a central cove with multi-colored lighting. Each side wall had a tall, false window with real drapes but providing a painted view of lush countryside, with a rainbow in the sky background. Patrons were supposed to feel like they were sitting in a posh living room. All of the 1,746 seats, most of them on the ground floor, were the oversized ‘Opera Style’ made by Ideal Seating Co. The balcony, was was almost at the rear of the auditorium, had only a few rows of seats to provide for space for a lounge area and restrooms.
Due to the penny-pinching of the Randforce circuit, the Rainbow Theatre was rarely advertised in the daily newspapers, so it’s difficult to chart its history. I think that Randforce operated it until 1964, when the Rainbow Theatre closed. In 2002, I found the theatre still standing and being used as a evangelical church that was closed at the time of my visit. The glass brick area above the entrance was still there, but with quite a few bricks missing. Pigeons were roosting in some of those spaces.
In June 2012, work commenced to convert the building into apartments, and it was gutted internally and the roof was removed. The front entrance was demolished.
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