Willoughby Theater

260 Knickerbocker Avenue,
Bushwick,
Brooklyn, NY 11237

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Willoughby Theater, Brooklyn, NY

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1913 in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on Knickerbocker Avenue at the corner of Willoughby Avenue. Listed in the 1914-1915 edition of the American Motion Picture Directory, at 256 Knickerbocker Avenue. In later editions of Film Daily Yearbook, the address is given as 260 Knickerbocker Avenue. Alterations were carried out in 1932 to the plans of architect Eric O. Holmgren

It was closed in 1951 and in 1953 was converted into a dance hall. In 2013 it is in use as a church.

Contributed by Lostmemory

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

Bway
Bway on April 20, 2009 at 10:10 am

I just put a link to a street view in the Ridgewood Casino’s page. Do you feel that is the corner, the corner with the one story buildings?

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 2, 2014 at 8:35 am

The Wyckoff Heights blog recently reported that a building permit has been submitted to construct a 10 story building on the old Willoughby’s site. It would continue a religious use on the first floor, with 53 residential units situated above that. My guess is that the current building will be demolished and then completely replaced by the new structure – though it is possible that a part of the old movie house might remain. (I hope the church is making out on this deal.)

The size of the building’s lot will enable a building of this size to be constructed in this relatively low density community.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 2, 2014 at 9:06 am

One more point that I forgot to make: It appears that the new building’s architect is the same person who will perform the renovations at the old Ridgewood Theatre.

Bway
Bway on April 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I use the word “renovations” lightly when talking about what will happen too the old Ridgewood Theater. “Renovations”, would more be in keeping with “renovating what is there”, not destroying the theater’s features in the process, which would include interior “demolition” as opposed to “renovation”. I hope it’s a “renovation” as opposed to demolition inside the Ridgewood Theater. As for the Willoughby, does anyone know of any interior photos? Is there anything left of it’s theater days in the church?

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Bway, I should have put the word renovations in “quotes” when speaking of the Ridgewood – if only to indicate a sense of irony. I greatly fear that the results will not be good.

Since the old Willoughby served as a dance hall for at least a while before becoming a church – you could say it took the path from the profane to the pious – I suspect that not much of the old place is left. Never having been there, however, I cannot say this for sure.

Great hearing from you.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Check the photo section to see the Willoughby when it was still a theatre.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

Thanks for the picture LM. Do you have any indication as to when it was taken? Unfortunately, the name of the movie being shown cannot be made out.

I guess the name “functional” comes to mind when viewing the photo. This was a VERY plain building. The church people, in fact, did a rather fine job in improving the facade when they took over the place.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 19, 2014 at 9:11 am

Just to a look at the Brooklyn Theatre Index and came up with a couple of items. First, while Eric Holmgren did perform architectural work in both 1919 and 1932, an architect named F. C. Dexheimer also did work there in 1915, or about two years after the theater opened.

Second, the Index cites a 1951 – not a 1953 – closing date. It seems as if the place was idle between that date and the 1953 filing of the building permit to convert in into the dance and catering hall.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I have no idea when that photo was taken, John. I wish that the photo was larger with more detail but it still gives you an idea of what the Willoughby looked like with a marquee. The Willoughby wasn’t located too far from the Starr Theater. You might not have seen it yet, but I also uploaded a photo to the Starr Theater page.

robboehm
robboehm on April 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Contrary to the Starr where the top appears to have been lopped off for later use, the Willoughby added a story or two.

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