Fine Arts Theatre
128 E. 58th Street,
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A small art house on 58th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. It was built on the site of the old Café Society Uptown, and was first operated by Richard Davis, who later became a film importer. The theatre had a plain nondescript interior. It was said to be the first theatre in the country to be designed specifically for motion picture and television presentation. Seating was proved in orchestra and balcony levels.
The Fine Arts Theatre opened on October 15, 1951, with the United States premiere of the British made Ealing Films comedy “The Lavender Hill Mob” starring Alec Guinness, which ran for more than eight months and established the theatre as a formidable rival to the nearby Sutton Theatre and Plaza Theatre. The supporting feature was Disney’s ‘real life adventure’ “Nature’s Half Acre”. Fellini’s “The Nights of Cabiria” had its US premiere here in October of 1957. The Fine Arts Theatre was one of the premier art houses in New York City during the 1950’s and succeeding decades. In 1964, Davis sold a long-term lease on the Fine Arts to the Walter Read Circuit for $1.5 million. It eventually became a chapel, under the jurisdiction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in 1978. The chapel has since closed, and the building appears to be boarded up.
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