Loew's Woodside Theatre

58-02 Roosevelt Avenue,
Woodside, NY 11377

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Loew's Woodside

Loew’s Woodside Theatre was designed by Herbert J. Krapp, with all of its 2,000 seats on the ground floor and a shallow stage suited only for movies. It first opened on the night of September 27, 1926 with a pre-release screening of MGM’s Buster Keaton comedy, “Battling Butler”. The next day, the Woodside Theatre began its regular policy of a feature movie and shorts, changing three times a week. The programs were first-run for the Woodside section of Queens and the adjacent communities of Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst. With the arrival of talkies, the Woodside Theatre switched to double features.

For several decades, it was on the third tier of the seven Loew’s theatres in Queens. The Valencia Theatre got the programs first, followed a week later by the Triboro Theatre. Then the Woodside Theatre, plus the Prospect Theatre, Plaza Theatre, Hillside Theatre and Willard Theatre. All of those third-tier theatres were eventually divested by Loew’s as part of the Federal anti-trust action against it.

The Woodside Theatre was the first to go, sold in 1952 to St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church, which had outgrown its original chapel. The church demolished the theatre entrance and lobby to build a Romanesque bell tower, but kept the auditorium intact. In 1998, to celebrate the parish’s 100th anniversary, most of the original auditorium decor was beautifully restored, though probably not in the exact same color scheme. That included not only the domed ceiling, but 40 columns along the side walls that were returned to their original marble with gold leaf capitals.

The site is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Masses are held at 5 and 6PM on Saturdays and on Sunday mornings, as well as at other times. The phone number is 718-429-4442.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

johndereszewski on March 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Bway, I was also surprised that this old theater has been off Cinema Treasures' radar screen, with only a handful of comments being registered. Perhaps the church fathers did such a good job of making the Woodside look like a church that no one thought that it could have been anything else. As my previous comment noted, the use of Romanesque architecture in converting the site really made it look authentic.

I hope you agree with my assessment when you make your visit. (The church is situated only 2 blocks from the #7/LIRR Woodside station.) A few pictures of the current exterior would really help provide a more complete profile of this fascinating place.

johndereszewski on October 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Perhaps another reason why so few comments have been registered on this page is that the conversion occurred so early – in the early 1950’s. Thus, probably very few people remember the time when the old Woodside was anything but a church.

Beyond this, the church itself does nothing to promote its cinematic past. Its web page provides a very comprehensive description of St. Sebastian’s origin – and the development of the Catholic religion in Queens – but says nary a word about the movie house conversion. This is really odd, given the fact that they should be very proud of this terrific achievement.

johndereszewski on October 26, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Toward the end of the attached terrific exploration of the lost Woodside, there are several fine external pictures of the old Woodside Theatre and the new St. Salvadore’s. This was put together by Christina Wilkinson (the Queen of Queens), who has done wonderful work for many West Queens communities in many different ways. Please enjoy the entire attachment, which links pertinent “non-topic” items with the real cinematic thing.

Hope the link works.

View link

TLSLOEWS on December 31, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Good to see that the building is still there as a church.Nice history.

RickB on June 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Some June 2010 pictures of the former Loew’s Woodside are near the bottom of this page, as Forgotten New York revisits the neighborhood.

TLSLOEWS on June 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Nice photo of the LOEWS WOODSIDE/CHURCH.RickB.

johndereszewski on February 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thank you so much TT for resurrecting – an apt religous term – this previously lost link that really establishes the connection of the old movie palace to its current religous use. This really represents one of the most successful re-uses of an old movie house than I am aware of.

PapaCat on June 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

As a long-time Woodside resident, and if my memory serves me correctly, the last movie that played in this theater was “Mr. Roberts.” After it was converted to a church, most of the kids in the neighborhood switched churches and went to mass here, as it was the first, and only church at that time, that had air-conditioning.

rivest266 on September 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Announcement http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2015/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Star/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Star%201926/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Star%201926%20-%202726.pdf#xml=http://fultonhistory.com/dtSearch/dtisapi6.dll?cmd=getpdfhits&u=ffffffffca235d3c&DocId=4880464&Index=Z%3a%5cIndex%20I%2dE&HitCount=4&hits=1f+20+2a+54+&SearchForm=C%3a%5cinetpub%5cwwwroot%5cFulton%5fNew%5fform%2ehtml&.pdf

CSWalczak on September 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Direct link to the announcement in .pdf form.

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