Jamaica Theatre

155-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Opened on November 26, 1913, this large vaudeville house stood on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens between the Merrick Theatre and Savoy Theatre. Recall that they played primarily movies with occasional vaudeville shows in the late-1940’s. During the early-1950’s, the theatre was part of the “Subway Circuit” of touring Broadway shows during the summer months.

Fondly recall seeing “Kiss Me Kate”, “Stalag 17”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “The Fourposter” and the late Joey Faye in “Top Banana”. As I recall, other theatres on the circuit were the Brighton Theatre in Brooklyn and the Windsor Theatre in the Bronx.

The Jamaica Theatre was closed in the early to mid-1960’s and was used as a bingo hall for a while, and later demolished.

Contributed by Erwin Markisch

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 12, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Judging from the photo, the local Packard dealer must have provided car service for Mae West in exchange for all the free publicity.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

For its entire lifetime, this was called the Jamaica Theatre (not Jamaica Theater). Here’s an ad from the 1913 opening:View link
The last stage bookings at the Jamaica Theatre were in September, 1954. The Jamaica was supposed to present a full season of plays, but closed on September 30th after only two had been presented, “Dial M For Murder” and “My Three Angels.” I don’t know if the Jamaica operated as a cinema after that.

Bway
Bway on April 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

You can just make out the Jamaica at the extreme left of this photo:
http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?96161

EMarkisch
EMarkisch on May 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Bway….I hate to differ with you, but I, sincerely, do not believe that the building (with the arched window)that you refer to in the extreme left of the photo you posted on April 19th is the Jamaica Theatre. I know there was an arched window above the Jamaica’s marquee, but I do not recall such a tall office building above that.

Further proof is that the building with the neon sign to the left of the arched window building is, unmistakably, the 111 year old Beaux-Arts former Jamaica Savings Bank building, which is located at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue. The Jamaica was located some distance west at 155-16 Jamaica Avenue.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 5, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Erwin is correct. That signage at extreme left belongs to the Jamaica Savings Bank. The taller brick wall beyond that is part of Gertz Department Store. The Jamaica Theatre was west of this location, just below Jamaica Avenue’s junction with Parsons Boulevard. The subway train had already passed that spot.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

The view displayed is incorrect, but has no option for correction. Someone apparently “corrected” it incorrectly! What does one do in a case like this? The view doesn’t even show the correct side of Jamaica Avenue! The Jamaica Theatre was on the south side of Jamaica Avenue, as were the Carlton, Alden, Merrick, and Savoy.

LugosiResearch
LugosiResearch on August 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm

In reference to the comment by Paul Noble, a frequent submitter to Cinema Treasures, regarding Bela Lugosi’s appearance at The Jamaica Theater in 1951: I am currently researching for a book on Lugosi and am interested in any information regarding Lugosi’s Horror and Magic Show that toured NYC area theaters in 1950-1951. Thus, I would really like to get in touch with Paul Noble and discuss more of his memories regarding the Lugosi show at The Jamaica Theater. Paul, if you see this, please contact me at:

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm

According to reports in The New York Times of March 12, 1912, and the Long Island Press of November 22, 1913, the architect of the Jamaica Theatre was Herbert Brewster, in association with the construction firm of John Auer & Son. CT’s credit to Thomas W. Lamb should be deleted and corrected to Herbert Brewster.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

The Jamaica’s opening date was not 1912. It was a year later, on November 26th, 1913, to be exact.

robboehm
robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I never remember the Jamaica ever being open. When I was a teenager I would sometimes take the bus to Jamaica to go shopping. I would pass this empty hulk on my way to Montgomery Wards. In all those years I never saw any sign of vandalism. We live in a different time.

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