Patio Theatre

574 Flatbush Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11225

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Patio Theatre

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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. It underwent a remodel in 1948 to the plans of architect John J. McNamara.

Century Theatres gave up on the Patio Theatre and leased it to the cheapjack Springer Circuit, which tried a policy of double-feature foreign movies before giving up. The Patio Theatre was sold for demolition and replaced by an apartment building in 1960 or thereabouts.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 14, 2008 at 3:33 am

New direct links to images of what was one of Brooklyn’s most sumptuous theatres and probably the masterwork of architect R. Thomas Short. The first shows the white marble enclosed patio and fountain in the lobby that gave the theatre its name:
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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 1, 2008 at 3:44 am

Here’s a new link to the posting above of 10/3/07 about weekend vaudeville at the Patio Theatre: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 1, 2008 at 4:07 am

Brooklyn’s very own Frances Faye, who was known as “Queen of Clubs” due to her popularity on the nitery circuit, topped a weekend vaudeville bill at the Patio in April, 1949, with the late-run “A Letter to Three Wives” on screen. Frances Faye’s career and private life as a lesbian would later be spotlighted in Bruce Weber’s feature documentary, “Chop Suey,” which had a brief theatrical release before vanishing into limbo: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 1, 2008 at 4:14 am

Exterior photos of the Patio and rival Loew’s Kings can be viewed here:

robboehm on October 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Century advertised the Patio, singularly in the mainstream NY papers when they had stage shows. As a child I remember seeing an ad for Joey Adams. Only in later years did I know who he was so that must have been early in his career.

robboehm on October 15, 2011 at 12:01 am

Just looked at the exterior photos. A double vertical. Wow!

johndereszewski on October 15, 2011 at 6:44 am

The Nrooklyn Yheatre Index references a 1958 closing date and prints a notice “to our patrons”, dated October 31 of that year, that regretfully announces the closure and offers a free pass to the neighboring Linden and Midwood Theatres …… It is interesing that a theater as ornate as the Patio has received so litte xommentary on CT. (It would be great if someone would re-link the old pictures of the place that have been lost) …… Since, unlike the King and the Kenmare, the Patio was not situated in the busy Flatbush/Chauch Avenuw commercial district, it would always have been at a financial disadvantage to them.

Tinseltoes on June 1, 2012 at 3:26 am

Here’s a two-page spread of photos and text for the Patio, which was one of Brooklyn’s most magnificent theatres but is barely remembered today: archive

Tinseltoes on June 1, 2012 at 4:35 am

P.S. If you connect to that link, you can see one more page of photos showing the Patio’s lounge areas by clicking on the forward arrow.

Tinseltoes on July 6, 2012 at 5:46 am

A rare photo of the Century’s Patio marquee in the upper right corner of this 1950 trade article: boxoffice

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