Jamaica Theatre

155-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments

robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 12:31 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.

Tinseltoes on October 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

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

Tinseltoes on September 26, 2012 at 8:22 am

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.

LugosiResearch on August 15, 2011 at 2:52 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 on June 1, 2011 at 1:04 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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

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.

EMarkisch on May 5, 2009 at 8:04 am

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.

Bway on April 19, 2009 at 10:19 am

You can just make out the Jamaica at the extreme left of this photo:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 19, 2008 at 2:06 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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 12, 2008 at 1:55 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 12, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Thanks so much for the link to that photo, which appears to be hand-tinted. Here’s a new link to an ad for that engagement:View link

jedweber on May 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I assume Warren’s photo from two posts above (no longer available) refers to Mae West’s 1951 revival of her play “Diamond Lil.”

An exterior shot of the Jamaica with the marquee for this event can be found at:

(Under “Life and Career” – “Later Stage Work”)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 19, 2008 at 7:59 am

Here are new direct links to previously posted images:
View link
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 15, 2007 at 7:47 am

During the week of July 17, 1951, the Jamaica presented “A triumph of sex over sense,” with its legendary star in her most famous role. Ticket prices were 50% less than at Broadway playhouses, with a top of $2.40 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 22, 2006 at 5:59 am

In 1928 as part of a Fox foursome presenting vaudeville, a feature movie, and the latest in sound innovations:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 15, 2006 at 5:33 am

At the end of 1945, the recently renovated Skouras Jamaica was making another attempt at reviving vaudeville. The two “B” movies supporting the New Year’s Eve show were first-run for the Jamaica area: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/midjam.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 8, 2006 at 7:06 am

“The show must go on,” although Noel Coward once wrote a song asking why: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/March1925.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 8, 2006 at 4:54 am

I must correct a major error that I made in my posting above of March 20, 2004. I have not been able to find any historical evidence to support the claim of Thomas Lamb as architect of the Jamaica Theatre. It seems that it was actually Herbert Brewster, another prominent theatre architect of that era. On March 12, 1912, The New York Times reported that a Brooklyn syndicate had just purchased a large plot of land at Fulton Street& Twombly Place in Jamaica for $148,000 and would build a 1,500-seat theatre with Herbert Brewster as architect. When the new Jamaica Theatre finally opened the following year, the Long Island Press of November 22, 1913 also reported Herbert Brewster as architect, in association with the building contracting firm of John Auer & Son…I believe that at some later time, Thomas Lamb probably did do some work at the Jamaica Theatre, as it was renovated several times to keep up with its newer and more modern competition. Here’s an opening ad:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 16, 2006 at 5:36 am

The Jamaica was one of the first theatres in Queens to be equipped for sound, as this ad from November 28, 1927 proves:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 13, 2006 at 4:56 am

The following is quoted from a 1938 article in the Queens Evening News about Jamaica theatres: “Jamaica was made conscious of the new dignity of the movie industry when William Fox erected his spacious theatre on Jamaica Avenue near Parsons Boulevard, now known as the Skouras New Jamaica Theatre. The theatre, with its lofty walls bearing murals of old Indian and Pilgrim scenes, still is in excellent condition, still is well patronized. One of the chief attractions at the old Fox Jamaica Theatre was the vaudeville— this was in the hey-day of vaudeville, and many an artist got his start here, including Joe E. Brown, the wide-mouthed movie comedian who came from Cedar Manor. In the years that the Jamaica Theatre ran its vaudeville shows, nearly every first-rank star of the ‘two-a-day’ trod the boards of the house. Their headquarters was the old ‘Judge’s Chop House,’ a restaurant across the way from the stage door, recently razed. Here the walls were lined with the photographs of stars who paid their respects to ‘Judge’ Schiellein, the proprietor. John T. O'Connell was manager of the Fox Theatre for many years. He knew many of his customers by name, and his wide smile and cheery salutation made theatre-goers happy before they even took their seats.”

mauriceski on October 25, 2005 at 5:52 pm

I also remember the cartoons. I think they were matinee cartoons meaning after one showing the regular program would follow.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on September 28, 2005 at 8:06 am

I visited the Skouras New Jamaica (as it was known then) in the early 50’s and saw a live stage show and a double bill, all featuring Bela Lugosi. The stage acts consisted of three appearances by Bela as Count Dracula, rising from his coffin, with green and violet lighting, and at least three interludes with a magician. There were two awful Monogram pictures, with “ape” and “bat” in the titles. In later years, I learned that Lugosi, to support his drug habit and debts, did “bus-and-truck” tours nationally, and this was but one stop on that caravan.

Scott on September 28, 2005 at 4:55 am

It appears that this theatre didn’t have an organ, since I don’t see organ screens. Is that the case? If so, that seems odd for a theatre like this.

mauriceski on September 28, 2005 at 3:17 am

the first movie isaw at the jamaica was this land is mine with charles laughton and maureen o'hara.they also had 8 vaudeville acts. if you missed a film at the merrick you could catch at the jamaica.