Town Theatre

37-11 Main Street,
Flushing, NY 11354

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ajs42548 on December 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm

My great uncle (my maternal grandmother’s brother) was Joseph Springer who owned the Midwood from the late 50’s into the 60’s. He also owned 5 other theaters some in Brooklyn and the rest in Queens. I saw the American Masters show and also heard Woody Allen mention that his grandfather owned that theater. Either he sold it to Century Circuit or directly to my uncle. I used to live on Coney Island Avenue and Ave. J (across Coney Island Ave. from Bobbins). Of course I used to have a family pass and see movies free whenever I wanted.

robboehm on May 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm

When I was a child my aunt took me to Flushing. I remember walking past the Town. Even then I was a theatre nut. Does no one have pictures of the theatre as the Town? Also, I posted similar information to this a year or so ago but it has disappeared. Anybody else experience this sort of problem?

bobosan on December 13, 2008 at 3:14 am

Here’s another image of the Taft from the 1930s:

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 15, 2008 at 7:58 am

Here’s a new link to a 1935 exterior image as the Taft Theatre:
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 8, 2008 at 1:43 pm

This first opened as the Taft Theatre on December 31st, 1931, described in advertising as “New and Magnifcent,” and with the “Best Talking Pictures Presented in a Refined Atmsphere— at the Lowest Thrift Prices.” The first booking was a late-run double bill of “Skyline” & “Sob-Sister,” accompanied by a newsreel and color cartoon.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 11, 2006 at 10:26 am

The Taft’s marquee can be seen at the extreme right of this 1939 view of Main Street, which looks north towards guess what? On the opposite side of the street from the Taft was Abramson’s, which for many years was Flushing’s only department store. I’m not sure if it was still operating by the time of the opening of Gertz on Roosevelt Avenue in the 1950s:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 25, 2006 at 6:06 am

By February 1950, Century had turned over the management of the Town and 43rd Street to Springer Theatres, though the former connection was still clear in the placement of advertising:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 27, 2006 at 9:49 am

This 1935 exterior of the Taft Theatre was published in the August 24th issue of Queens Chronicle as part of its nostalgic “I Have Often Walked Series.” The pointed top of the rival RKO Keith’s Flushing can be seen at the far left of the image:
Curiously, the article’s text makes no mention of the theatre’s origin as the Flushing or of its later identity as the Town. The writer seems more fascinated by the naming of the theatre in honor of William Howard Taft (27th president of the USA), and points out that another Taft Theatre is still thriving in President Taft’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 16, 2005 at 3:43 am

Mike69, the Janice has a listing of its own here. It was not the same theatre as this one. The Janice was just a few doors south of Northern Boulevard. I’ve posted some pix at the Janice listing.

roadwarrior23249 on December 15, 2005 at 6:54 pm

I have a nice photo of the taft i will post on here as soon as i get the chance. Warren, sine you seem to be THE theater guy around here, maybe you can help me out. I have a book on early queens and it shows a theater called the Janice that was also on main st. Was this the location of the Taft/Town, the seem to be in the same location in the pics. Thanks

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 17, 2005 at 4:40 am

I believe that the original name of this was the Flushing Theatre, and that the name was changed to Taft when Keith-Albee’s Flushing theatre opened in 1928. The Flushing was built around 1917-18 and a conversion of retail premises. It had 600 seats, but in 1920 was remodeled and enlarged to seat 1,200, according to a 1926 publication of the Queensboro Chamber of Commerce. By that time, the Flushing had passed to the management of Henry Gainsboro, who also operated the Roosevelt Theatre on Northern Boulevard in the outskirts of Flushing.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 4, 2004 at 3:41 pm

Yes. Although Springer tried turning the Patio into an “art house,” which didn’t succeed. It was far too large for that type of booking.

RobertR on October 4, 2004 at 2:00 pm

Were all of their houses end of the run?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 4, 2004 at 1:58 pm

Springer Theatres is a difficult company to research and has a sleazy reputation. It apparently managed waning theatres dropped by the major circuits. In one of its rare listings in Film Daily Year Books, the 1950 volume has Springer operating the Quentin, Tivoli, Triangle and Vogue in Brooklyn, the Town in Flushing, and the 43rd Street in Sunnyside. Soon after that, I believe it took over the Patio and other Brooklyn theatres from Century…Joseph R. Springer was president of the company, which had HQ at 23 West 43rd Street in Manhattan. Beatrice Cohen was vice-president, and Dorothy Lissner secretary-treasurer.

Orlando on October 4, 2004 at 1:47 pm

The Springer Circuit took hold of many Century operations, some that were being disposed of permanantly like the Town, Community and Plaza in Queens and the Patio, Linden (formerly Ward And Glynne’s Century), Farragut in Brooklyn. They also ran the Midwood and Oceana and when they went out of business, the last two reverted back to Century. Springer ceased to exist after 1964 or so.

RobertR on October 4, 2004 at 9:45 am

Wow, I learned something today. I never knew about this theatre. How many theatres did the Springer chain operate?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 4, 2004 at 9:15 am

I reported an incorrect address for the Town. It was actually a block closer to Northern Boulevard, and situated at 37-11 Main Street. The site is presently occupied by the Hong Kong Supermarket.
…The theatre was demolished in June, 1959, to make way for a W.T. Grant variety store. According to a news story in The New York Times at that time, the Town’s seller was Stellbea Theatre Corp., a subsidiary of B.S. Moss Enterprises. Moss must have built the theatre and then leased it to others. For most of its life, the Town was operated by the Century Circuit, and then by Springer in its final years.