1515 Bedford Avenue,
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The Savoy Theatre was the largest theatre that William Fox ever built in Brooklyn prior to the downtown Fox Theatre. Opening publicity claimed 3,500 seats, but that has been debated ever since. Some industry year books say 2,750, but I would guess more like 3,000. The Savoy Theatre has a very large balcony with minimal space between the rows.
The Savoy Theatre was built at the same time as Fox’s Academy of Music in Manhattan, with Thomas W. Lamb as architect of both. The Savoy Theatre’s auditorium is in the Adam style, with boxed seats adjoining the stage and a shallow dome in the center of the ceiling. It first opened on September 1, 1926, with Fox’s “Fig Leaves” on screen, plus six acts of vaudeville. With program changes twice a week, the Savoy Theatre was considered the Fox circuit’s top Brooklyn showcase until the 1928 opening of the downtown Fox Theatre. After that, it became just another neighborhood movie house, but playing first-run for the area.
After William Fox’s bankruptcy, the Savoy Theatre landed under the Randforce Circuit, which, to signify the theatre’s importance, moved its executive HQ to office space in the building. The Savoy Theatre carried on into the 1960’s, despite all the social turbulence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area.
Fortunately, it escaped demolition and became the Charity Neighborhood Baptist Church. Except for removal of the marquee and alterations to the entrance, the Savoy Theatre’s interior is virtually intact, though re-painted in whitewash in most areas. Some of the original stage curtains are still hanging, and I’ve been told that old scenic backdrops are still stored in the lofts.
The church moved out of the building in late-2012, and it was being prepared for demolition in April 2013.
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