Loew's Avenue B Theatre

72 Avenue B,
New York, NY 10009

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Loew’s Avenue B Theatre is part of one of the great rags-to-riches stories of showbiz history. Movie mogul Marcus Loew erected it on the very site of the tenement building where he was born. Needless to say, his birthplace was demolished to make way for the luxurious 1,750-seat theatre, which was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and first opened on January 8, 1913, with vaudeville as its main attraction and movies thrown in just as fillers.

The Avenue B Theatre was the top Loew’s house on the Lower East Side until the mid-1920’s, when the circuit took over the Commodore Theatre on Second Avenue, which was a much busier area for entertainment and shopping. The Avenue B Theatre was reduced to playing movies at the end of their Loew’s circuit run, and remained so until its closure around 1957-58.

I don’t know if anyone operated the theatre after that. It was eventually demolished and replaced by a nursing facility.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

RobertR
RobertR on June 15, 2005 at 3:29 pm

When “Operation Petticoat” opened on the neighborhood run in 1959 the Avenue B was advertised as a Brandt Theatre.

Rollingrck
Rollingrck on October 4, 2005 at 2:13 pm

Here is a photo matching the angle of Warren’s photo as the site looks today.
View link

jrobertclark
jrobertclark on August 8, 2007 at 1:39 am

Wow, I lived on the block (No. 46) in 1983-84, then at 246 E 4th St during 1984-85,and had no clue there used to be a lavish Loew’s up the street. Thanks, guys!

kc2dhj
kc2dhj on August 20, 2007 at 8:29 am

I spent many saturdays 7 sundays in the early 50s in that wonderful place. My friends and I would go around the corner on 5th street that sold a big brown greasy bag of french fries for 15 cents and would stay watch a double feature, a action serial, and 25 cartoons.
I laugh now when I think of how many times my mother would come to get me and bring me home, boy would I get it. It was a simple white building, and still remember the lion heads that stood out of the wall.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on November 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Good story of how Marcus Loew built the theatre at the site of his birth.Good history.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on November 30, 2009 at 7:08 am

From the 2005 post above:

Marcus Loew said “This is the most pretentious of the houses on our string, because my better judgment was over-balanced by my sentimentalism and my longing to do something better here than I ever did before.”

Up to the 1930’s “pretentious” meant “luxurious” and did not have the negative connotations assigned to the word today.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Too bad the photos do not work anymore.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Marcus Loew was born on this date in 1870.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

The Avenue B had a large organ built by M. P. Moller, their opus 1947 with four manuals and 31 ranks. It is interesting that the organ records state “contained many used parts, $5,700.” You gotta laugh, Marcus Loew builds a spectacular new theatre on the site of his childhood home, but let’s see if we can’t save a few dollars on that organ, okay?

I also find reference that Wurlitzer sold a little 2-manual, 3-rank organ to “Avenue B Theatre, New York, NY” in 1926 (opus 1372). Was there another hall with the same name? Maybe this was a lobby organ? Another mystery!

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