Pilgrim Theatre

2925 Westchester Avenue,
Pelham Bay,
Bronx, NY 10461

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The Pilgrim Theatre in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, was the first theatre I went to as a small child. I especially remember the films I saw there in the winter of 1946 through summer 1948 (when my family moved upstate to Westchester County).

The theatre was located on Westchester Avenue right below the elevated train station. It shared those wonderful aromas of popcorn, an ‘air cooled’ environment and something I can’t define that came with all local movie house ‘back then’.

The admission booth stood by itself outside the lobby and was surrounded by glass showcases which housed three sheets, one sheets lobby cards and still pictures of the two features which were currently playing and upcoming attractions.

Saturday’s matinees were special for us. I guess I had just turned seven years old and there were several of us from ‘the block’ who would walk the six or seven blocks by ourselves to the movie house.

The schedule for a Saturday matinee would include several cartoons, a newsreel, a serial (I especially remember “The Crimson Ghost” with Charles Quigley, Linda Stirling and Clayton Moore—of course I didn’t know their names then!) several previews of coming attractions —Sunday/Monday/Tuesday in sparkling letters, and then a double feature—-I especially remember two films— “The Brasher Doubloon” with George Montgomery, and Nancy Guild which played with “Miracle on 34th Street”, and “The Walls Came Tumbling Down” with Lee Bowman and Marguerite Chapman.

The manager always was dressed in suit and bow-tie and the ushes wore fancy uniforms.

When I took a memory lane visit several years ago I found that the Pilgrim Theatre had been converted into a bingo hall…and was totally closed down.

The Pilgrim Theatre contains some of my finest memories of my early years.

Contributed by Richard Harrison

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Richard Harrison
Richard Harrison on July 6, 2006 at 1:55 pm

The Pilgrim Theatre in the Bronx was not part of the Sack Theatre chain of Boston…but the Skouros chain of New York….RKO, Albee Westchester Square, etc.

OnslowKUA
OnslowKUA on July 6, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Richard, I remember the Skouras Pilgrim too. I do not understand your reference to “RKO, Albee Westchester Square, etc.” The Buhre Avenue station of the Pelham Bay IRT line is two stations north of the Westchester Square station. Why the mention of RKO and Albee?

Richard Harrison
Richard Harrison on July 7, 2006 at 4:31 am

Tom, I included RKO and the Albee because they were also part of the Skouras (“Cool Skouras Theatres”)chain. The Bronx Home News always listed the local Skouras theaters directly under the ad for the RKO theatres.
The local Skouras theatres were the Park Plaza – Univ. & Tremont, the Crotona – E. Tremont Ave., the Valentine – Fordham Rd, the Ogden, the Tuxedo, the Square at Westchester Square (which you mentioned, and was a second favorite theatre of mine), the Interboro on E. Tremont (which was my mother’s favorite during the 1930’s), the Ward and my beloved Pilgrim Theatre.

OnslowKUA
OnslowKUA on July 7, 2006 at 5:47 am

Richard, I remember many of these theaters. I attended PS77 near the Ward and remember getting tickets at the school for Saturday matinees. This was in the very early 50’s. The Ward was near the Elder Avenue Station of the Pelham IRT. In 1952 we moved to the Westchester Square area and I spend many an afternoon in the Square. I also remember the Interboro which was in the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx. By the late 1950’s we moved to University Heights and the Park Plaza and Ogden were the closest theaters to where I lived. By the mid 1950’s, I don’t believe that the Square or Ogden were part of the Skouras circuit- I believe they were “indies.” As a matter of fact, when I first moved to the West Bronx in early 1956, the Ogden was not operating. It reopened shortly after that and often showed triple bills including horror films (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, etc) and comedies such as the Bowery Boys series. I, too, vaguely remember the Bronx Home News. Didn’t the New York Post take it over?

Richard Harrison
Richard Harrison on July 9, 2006 at 1:53 pm

Tom..Thanks very much for your film going background. I really enjoyed the info. These movie theatres were such an important part of my young years (still are!!) I went to PS 71 for second grade and the Pilgrim was my local. The Square was a 15 minute walk on 8 year old legs and when I got to 10 I would take the IRT at Middletown Road to the Parkchester area for the Castle Hill RKO…I remember especially seeing ‘Them’ with those giant ants and Edmund Gwenn.
I get most of my info on the ‘40ies and '50 films from the periodical room at the New York Public Library – Fifth Avenue branch. I have made copies of the New York Times, NY Daily News and Bronx Home News film pages from the mid-40ies to mid-50ies. It helps the memory as to what were the double bills, coming attractions and especially the movie ads graphics. I did realize that there was no Albee theatre in the Bronx. (I believe Suzanne Plechette’s father was the manager(?) of the Brooklyn Albee theatre.) I just mentioned the Albee because the ad for it was always under RKO’s ad. I also looked up Spryos Skouros’s biography on Google and it is quite interesting. He and his two brothers were certainly power figures and they began life in a
small Greek village with a father who was a sheepherder.. Spyrous died in Mamaroneck NY not too far from my parents home. Such coincidences. I don’t know if the Post took over the Home News but it certainly could have happened.

Richard Harrison
Richard Harrison on June 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thank you Lost Memory for posting that terrific photo of the late and beloved Pilgrim Theatre. I have printed it out and I will cherish it.
Richard Harrison

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Nice vintage photo of the Pilgrim.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Hello-

i have lived within walking distance of the building my entire life. now i just turned 61 and never remember the building in operation as a movie theater. the marquee was kept up long after it closed. so when did it close as a movie theater?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

Are we sure this theater was demolished? The street view above is off the mark, but if you swing it around 180 degrees and click your way south along Pilgrim Ave until you get to the intersection of Buhre Ave, the building on the far left corner (the south east corner of Buhre and Pilgrim Aves) looks very much like the old theater as depicted in Lost Memory’s photo, posted on July 1, 2008. That vintage image peers down Pilgrim Ave from the opposite direction, at the corner of Westchester Ave.

zipperiffic
zipperiffic on May 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm

This building is definitely still standing. Check this out on Bing maps and you will see this building now converted to retail, but all of it still intact.

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