Fox Kew Gardens Theatre

118-01 Queens Boulevard,
Forest Hills, NY 11375

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Fox Kew Gardens Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Kew Gardens was built by the S & S Circuit, which was taken over by William Fox while the 1,287-seat theatre was still under construction. As the Fox Kew Gardens, it had its grand opening on September 14, 1929, with the Fox Movietone feature, “Lucky Star”, plus assorted “all-talking” short subjects. Programs changed three times a week and were subsequent run to the well-established Fox Forest Hills, which was about a half-mile west of the Kew Gardens and its nearest competition.

The Kew Gardens Theatre was the first theatre ever built on the north side of Queens Boulevard, and was a block away from its intersection with Union Turnpike. Unfortunately, the neighborhood was still developing and under-populated, so the Kew Gardens was virtually dead-on-arrival when Wall Street crashed only a month later. In December, Fox closed the theatre and decided to convert it to miniature golf, which was all the rage at the time. All the seats were removed, with the ground floor used for an 18-hole “Tom Thumb” golf course. The former balcony was divided into a spectator section and an area for ping pong and billiard tables. As the Kew Gardens Indoor Golf Course, it re-opened on August 18, 1930. For 50 cents, patrons could play one full round, with equipment and instructors provided by the management. Tickets for unlimited play were $2 weekly or $6 for a month.

The deepening financial crisis seemed to keep players away, so Fox soon closed the premises. The circuit was going through a bankruptcy crisis of its own. The Kew Gardens Theatre remained padlocked until being assigned to the Skouras Theaters Corp. circuit, which was formed to run all the former Fox theatres in Queens.

Skouras, however, had no interest in re-converting the Kew Gardens Theatre into a theatre, so it just sat there vacant until the late-1950’s, when it was finally sold for demoliton and replacement by an office building.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

mp775 on March 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Not sure if this is the same photo Warren posted in 2006, but here’s a 1936 photo of Queens Boulevard at Union Turnpike/Interboro Parkway, with the Fox Kew Gardens on the right.

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

Due to changes in the alert system, I wasn’t aware of the post of 3/25/09 until just now, when I went to the listing to make a new addition of my own. Here’s a new link to the photo that I displayed and described on 11/29/07, which is different from the one linked by “mp775” on 3/25/09: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 3, 2009 at 6:57 am

In November, 1945, the Kew Gardens Theatre made front-page news in the Queens newspapers when a home owners association headed by Isadore Federbush proposed that the building be converted into a bus terminal to end traffic jams on Queens Boulevard during commuter rush hours. Eight bus lines dropped passengers at that point to transfer to the Kew Gardens subway station. Federbush claimed that the theatre had been closed for 13 years and seemed unlikely to ever be reopened. This proposal might explain how the theatre ended up under the ownership of the NYC Board of Transportation, which instead auctioned it off in 1947 (see my post above of 6/11/08).

LuisV on June 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Thanks to mp775 and to Warren for the fabulous photos. Having lived in Kew Gardens for many years before moving to Manhattan, I still have great fondness for this neighborhood. It is astounding for me to see the area so undeveloped! It makes you think “What were they thinking” when they built this theater in the middle of nowhere. But I guess the answer is that everyone expected the good times of the roaring 20’s were going to go on forever and that the area would quickly develop.

jflundy on August 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Here is a shot of the theater from the other side of the Boulevard circa 1935. Warren made the ID of the building from NYPL collection image which I located.

View link

paktype on October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Union Turnpike was my home station for many, many years. I had no idea the “Pickman Building” and the adjacent stores were once the site of a movie theater. The above photo is quite shocking to anyone who knows how crazy that intersection is today. The Jackie Robinson Parkway runs directly beneath the intersection now.

Tinseltoes on October 18, 2012 at 7:14 am

Why doesn’t this theatre turn up in a search for Kew Gardens, NY? Possibly because the address ribbon incorrectly places it in Forest Hills? And what is “NKew Gardens?” A typo? An abbreviation for New Kew Gardens or North Kew Gardens? The mind boggles!

robboehm on October 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Always the possibility of a post office reassignment. Case in point, the Bellerose used to be in Bellerose before the small Nassau County strip in which it was located was reassigned to Floral Park. As far as the ribbon is concerned Ken explained sometime back that the ribbon was established when the theatre was added to CT and cannot be changed.

Tinseltoes on October 19, 2012 at 6:32 am

If the address ribbons “cannot be changed,” maybe they should just be deleted entirely. Many are contaminated with false and/or misleading information.

Tinseltoes on November 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

A more accurate address would be 118-01 Queens Boulevard, which is currently used for a corner store in the exact spot where the theatre’s entrance stood. 118-21 is used for the main entrance to the Pickman Building, which is in the middle of the block.

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