Willoughby Theater

260 Knickerbocker Avenue,
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 1953 and converted into a dance hall. In 2013 it is in use as a church.

Contributed by Lostmemory

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Bway on June 6, 2006 at 8:35 am

Here’s an aerial view of the former Willoughby Theater, now a church:

View link

billmetz on February 28, 2007 at 3:12 pm

saw trader horn at the willoughby they had barrels of pickles and herring at the rear of theatre whew!! what DUMP

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

There might have been another theatre on Knickerbocker Avenue that hasn’t been listed at Cinema Treasures. In a 1932 trade journal, I found this memory of a decade or two before that: “There was one house on Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, which seated about 250. Every time there was a rain storm, the place would become flooded, and the customers were forced to sit on the backs of the chairs!”

johndereszewski on April 18, 2008 at 2:31 am

Warren, in looking for a “phantom” theater on Knickerbocker, I just thought you might wish to consider the Ridgewood Casino, which has a page on this site, albeit a lightly used one.

I say this because the Ridgewood Casino, which was situated at 381-3 Knickerbocker at the corner of Stanhope, would appear to fit the profile – small, 200-250 capacity house that did not outlive the 1910’s – of your “lost” movie house. Also, since the building currently situated on that site almost surely predates the 1910’s, the old place might not even have been demolished.

In any event, you – or anyone else – may wish to check out this page and provide your thoughts.

Bway on April 20, 2009 at 7:10 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 on April 2, 2014 at 5:35 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 on April 2, 2014 at 6:06 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 on April 2, 2014 at 1:05 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 on April 2, 2014 at 1:28 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 4:55 pm

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

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