574 Flatbush Avenue,
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The Patio Theatre was supposed to be the crown jewel of the Century Theaters circuit, and was the largest and most luxurious by the company’s usual architect-designer team of R.Thomas Short and William Rau. The highly gilded and ornamented auditorium was described as “Old World Spanish”. The ceiling had an octagonal dome at the center, hung with a chandelier equipped with special lighting effects. The theatre took its name from a spacious patio in the center of the lobby. Surrounded by white marble columns, it had a large, three-tier fountain and reflecting pool.
The Patio Theatre first opened on November 2, 1928, with John Barrymore’s silent “The Tempest” on screen and a musical program featuring the theatre’s resident orchestra, conducted by Howard Emerson, and the Kimball organ, played by Emil Velazco. The Patio Theatre did not present vaudeville due to nearby competition from three theatres that did—the Flatbush Theatre, Kenmore Theatre and Albemarle Theatre.
In another year, Loew’s Kings Theatre would join that group, so the Patio Theatre would never prosper, even after the decline of vaudeville. The Kings Theatre and RKO Kenmore Theatre became the leaders for the Flatbush area, with the Patio Theatre playing its movies several weeks behind them. The theatre benefited from the WWII attendance boom, but went into a decline afterwards and was hard hit by the arrival of home TV.
Century gave up on the Patio and leased it to the cheapjack Springer Circuit, which tried a policy of double-feature foreign movies before giving up. The Patio was sold for demolition and replaced by an apartment building in 1960 or thereabouts.
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