Stanley Theatre

983 S. Orange Avenue,
Newark, NJ 07106

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Stanley Theatre, Newark, NJ

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This Spanish Atmospheric style theatre was named for the Warner Brothers-owned circuit that built it. Frank Grad was the architect, with interior decoration by Landish Studios. The auditorium is a virtual replica of the Atmospheric Renaissance courtyard of the Jersey City Stanley Theatre. The lobby is also done in a similar Atmospheric style. The Stanley Theatre first opened in 1927, but due to its location in the outskirts of Newark, it ran second-run to the circuit’s downtown Branford Theatre.

By the late-1950’s, the Stanley Theatre was no longer profitable and got sold to an Italian-American cultural organization that turned it into a social hall called Casa Italiana. All of the Atmospheric style decor was retained, but the single floor auditorium was cleared of seats so it could be used for dining and dancing.

Since my last visit in 1980, the building has changed ownership and is now known as the Newark Gospel Tabernacle. A recent photograph shows the exterior little changed, and the auditorium has been beautifully restored.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

laybug8
laybug8 on June 29, 2007 at 9:16 pm

I remember going here when it was Casa Italiana my parents used to work there and take me there while they were working. They used to host Carnevale every February which was a big event. My communion party was in the upstairs part of the building. I would like to go back and see it. I wish I could rent it out to have my 30th birthday it would bring back a lot of memories.

hollister22nh
hollister22nh on July 21, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Here is a great profile of the Stanley as it exists today:

http://www.newarkhistory.com/newarktabernacle.html

-John

mcraco
mcraco on February 2, 2008 at 11:46 am

I went there as a teenager to casa italiana!! we loved it!! the music was great and we used to see ourselves on Tv with Umberto of Naples!!

Marisa Panicucci(Craco)

Tiger09
Tiger09 on February 2, 2009 at 7:40 am

Could anyone who went there when it was still Casa Italiana talk more about what it looked like and what it did? I’m a university student who is writing a large research paper about the architecture of the Stanley theaters in New Jersey, and any personal accounts (or photos if they exist!) would be much appreciated.

I have in fact been inside recently, and have taken a number of pictures, and will post the link here after I am done uploading them. They are in the early stages of undergoing a major renovation project to make several repairs and restore the building to be not only a church but a community performing art center. Exciting stuff!

Tiger09
Tiger09 on March 22, 2009 at 10:49 am

To PGZ- all of the seats actually were removed at some point. Though there are seats there now, these are certainly not the original ones, which would have looked much more like the rows at the Stanley Theater in Jersey City.

satpmmats
satpmmats on February 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I grew up nearby in South Orange. I took in many a Saturday Matinee throughout the 1960s.
“Casa Italiana” was co-owned by Seton Hall and The Knights Of Columbus. My Italian class from Columbia H.S. ate lunch there once.
I’m happy to see the wonderful renovation The Newark Tabernacle has done to the building.

spectrum
spectrum on February 13, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Here is a webpage with some wonderful interior shots of the Stanley theater showing the renovation done by the Newark Gospel Tabernacle. Shows both lobbies and auditorium. This theatre may have served as an inspiration for Fred Wentworth when he designed the Stanley in Jersey City – the auditoriums are remarkably similar, although the Newark Stanley has a fully atmospheric lobby. The building looks in excellent shape!

http://www.newarkhistory.com/newarktabernacle.html

Their webpage listed above appears to be down.

laybug8
laybug8 on April 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Tiger09 you probably finished your paper already but if you still need info on when it was Casa Italiana I can help my parents worked there so I basically grew up in that building from 1980 up until when it was sold. You can email me for info If you have any pics I would love to see them. This place brings back lots of memories.

John314
John314 on September 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I can remember going to the Stanley just about every Saturday afternoon in the late forties and early and mid fifties. I say just about because every once and awhile, the Mayfair Theatre which was two block further up South Orange Avenue, played something better. But that was very seldom and the Stanley was the kids theatre of choice as well the “the place to see and be seen.” Saturday afternoon (1:00 P.M. to be exact) was when I could go to the Stanley, see two full length features, usually either scary or a western, a bunch of cartoons and a serial. Not bad for twenty five cents. Right next door to the Stanley was a 5 & 10 Cent Store and that was the place we all stopped for the movie candy. Three packs of candy for a dine. Selection of the candy was always fun…two candies were for eating, the third for throwing. You see, as soon as the lights went down and the movie began, the Stanley became a war zone with candy flying in every direction. My choice of ammo, Black Crows or Dots. After about ten minutes, calm would set in and we’d settle in to watch Tom Mix or Frankenstein. After the movies, around 5:00 P.M. I grab the “Green Flyer Bus (another Nickel) down South Orange Avenue so I could be home for supper at 5:30 PM. If Saturday was for the kids, then Wednesday Night was "Ladies Night.” I can remember my mother and my oldest sister (then 18) going to the Stanley every week to see a movie but even more important, to pick up the free dish or plate of the week. After about 18 months, you could collect a full service for eight. Everyone on my block had the same dishes. The Stanley played an important role in my growing up years. It was a fun place in what seems to have been, much easier days.

spectrum
spectrum on December 4, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Their official website is at: http://www.newarktab.org/

They have some good photos too – looks like the church is doing very well!

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