Loew's Woodside Theatre
58-02 Roosevelt Avenue,
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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.
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