Willoughby Theater

260 Knickerbocker Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11237

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Bway on November 15, 2018 at 11:49 am

Here’s a rare photo of the Willoughby in the 1940’s showing it’s marquee.


robboehm on April 27, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Picture of original structure uploaded.

robboehm on April 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

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

johndereszewski on April 19, 2014 at 6:11 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.

johndereszewski on April 19, 2014 at 5:55 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 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.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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

Bway on June 6, 2006 at 8:35 am

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

View link

sasheegm on August 29, 2005 at 1:31 pm

Wouldn’t have a clue Lostmemory——-Perhaps BWAY or Warren…..maybe Gerry, since all they showed were Italian films——at least from when I can remember, the late 40s through the early 50s…….I think the Italian movies that started to be shown for free, on WOR-Channel-9, in the early 50s, may have led to their closing, or at least a change in venue……Joe From Florida—P.S. I notified the staff that my e-mail will be changing by the end of the month——-hopefully they will change it, since I would like to receive the updates from all of you fellows

sasheegm on April 20, 2005 at 3:34 pm

Hello to everyone: I grew up on Willoughby Ave, in Brooklyn during the 40s and 50s……..When I lived there, the Willoughby Theater showed only Italian Cinema because its location was in an Italian neighbrhood……..It;s neighboring Theater was the Star Theater on Knickerbocker Ave between Willoughby Ave and Troutman St…….Iwent to the Willoughby on many occasions to see Italian Cinema with the Old Greats such as Gino Cervi, Amedeo Nazzarri, Alida Valli, Isa Miranda etc etc……….It was part of my childhood & now I have been a Classic film collector for over 40 years——First 16mm, then video, and now dvd…..My Family and I moved from the old neighborhood in 1959 and moved to Long Island….I have very fond memories of the neighborhood…as i grew older, I remember the Theater closing down…….I then would go into Manhattan to the Apollo Theater on 42nd St.(before the sleaze took over) to see European films including Italian……A few blocks from the Willoughby was the Wagner Theater on Wykoff Ave I beleive, which only showed German Cinema, since that area was predominantly German——These areas were known as the Bushwick/Ridgewood section of Brooklyn…..and we had many theaters all over the area….but that’s for another post…Ciao, Joe From Florida

Bway on September 23, 2004 at 8:03 am

Here’s a current view of the Willoughby Theater taken yesterday.

Click Here for Link

The theater is now a church, Iglesia Bautista Central. The building appears to have been refaced, although is well cared for.