Winthrop Theater

135 Driggs Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11222

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Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments

tapeshare
tapeshare on February 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Hi John- I can probably help with a picture of the Winnie. We are embarking on a Greenpoint book project and can welcome your local experience with the theatres and the area. Drop me a line Rick

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Well another new year unfolds as does the start of my 7th year as a member of this page. Hope we have a lot to talk about this year and that more people join the discussion. And – hopefully someone will post a vintage picture of the Winnie in 2014. Happy New Year.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

A picture recently posted on the Eagle Theatre’s (in Bushwick) page features a sign saying “closed for the summer”. A commentator then plausibly speculated that the Eagle was closed because it lacked air conditioning. Whether this may have been true for the Eagle, the Winnie was also not air conditioned but, instead, stayed open during the summers with the help of two huge – and very loud – fans. They were positioned to the immediate left and right of the screen. While they probably did little more than circulate hot air and frequently drowned out the dialogue, they at least allowed the show to go on. At the prices charged by this “nabe' none of us complained.

I really hope someone will find sn old picture of the Winnie and post it here.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

As was noted in a previous comment, the only thing remaining from the old movie house is the wall along Russel Street – and even that cannot be said for certain. Except for that, supermarket is an entirely new building.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

Well another year has passed as I now start my sixth season as a member of this site.

I am still hoping that someone will come up with a picture of this old movie house. Perhaps this will occur this year – and hopefully more people will add comments to this page – and the other pages of the old north Brooklyn movie theaters in 2013. I noted a sharp decline of such comments in 2012, but perhaps this will change.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

Well, I now start my fifth year as a member of this wonderful site. Still hope that someone will identify and post a photo of this old theater. Hopefully, this will occur this year. Happy New Year to all.

Bway
Bway on January 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Yes, the same was true for Ridgewood and Bushwick too. There were very few corner intersections that didn’t have at least one bar on the corner….

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

BB, I vaguely remember the place, which I believe was considered to be something of a dive, though I doubt if I ever went there. While I grew up across the street from St. Stans at 606 Humboldt, by the time that I started to frequent bars, my family had moved to Morgan Ave. and had a different selection to choose from. At the time, there was literally a saloon on every block in Greenpoint. They were as much a part of the neighborhood as were – well – the local movie houses.

BabyBoomer
BabyBoomer on January 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm

John…….Just one more mention of a Greenpoint bar and I won’t stray from the movie house thread anymore.

Do you remember a bar on the corner of Diamond and Driggs(it’s now a closed down pizza place)? Thirty six years ago on my wedding day my bestman and myself got to St.Stans early and stopped in this bar for a bracer to get through the events.The bartender knew we weren’t from the neighborhood and asked what we were doing in the neighborhood …in suits no less.After the ceremony we met him at the door of the church wanting to kiss the bride.

Bway
Bway on January 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Amazingly I am going on almost 7 years now here….I don’t know where the time went! I also stumbled on it by accident, back in 2003 when I was trying to find out what the “theater on Broadway by Howard is”….and found the RKO Bushwick, and the rest is history….
I use this site even when I go on vacation and find an old theater somewhere….when I get home I try and look it up here!

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2011 at 9:41 am

Well, this marks the third anniversary of the date when I first stumbled over this wonderful site and posted my first comment. It’s been a lot of fun over these last three years.

In 2011, I hope someone will find and post a picture of this modest but greatly missed theater.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

BabyBoomer, I know that bar, most recently known as Goodman’s, very well. Before exiting Greenpoint for Forest Hills in 2001, I spent many hours at Goodman’s – and had a farewell drink there on the night we moved away. As far as I know, the place is still going strong.

This bar very much resembles the old “Batatics”, which was situated just across the street from the Winthrop and now hosts a liquor store. It is exactly the kind of bar that existed when the old Winthrop still showed movies.

BabyBoomer
BabyBoomer on December 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

John……..On an unrelated note to the Winthrop but has to do with movies.Going one block away on the corner of Nassau and Russel(I believe it’s Russell)There is one of the few bars left in Greenpoint that Pop is always telling us they do a lot of filming in.It has that old bar look and Pop tells of attending parties in the rear of the bar.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 7, 2010 at 5:00 am

One minor correction to the above. I mis-stated the name of the bar. It was named Batetics (an obvious mispelling, though that’s how it was pronounced), not Dekarski’s, which was actually the name of a – believe it or not – funeral parlour. Sorry.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Bway, the Winthrop was about as tall – the equivalent of two stories – as the current supermarket. This is why the assertion that the Russell St. wall is a relic of the old theater is credible.

As I remember it, the Winthrop’s entrance – and its terrific awning – only occupied the center of what is now the supermarket. The left and right flanks were occupied by other businesses on both two floors. (Thanks to PhilJR for refreshing my memory on this point.) The theater’s lobby was a modest affair that lead directly into the auditorium. Upon leaving the lobby, you looked directly at the screen. The nearly 600 seats were located on one level, with no balcony. (While I may be wrong on this point, I do not believe that the Winnie was ever air conditioned. I distinctively remember viewing movies on hot afternoons that were only cooled – and very well muted – by two large fans.)

A very popular bar – I believe it was named Dekarski’s – was situated on the other side of Russell St. During the 1950’s, many very loud parties were held there. (Since I lived on the same block, I can very well attest to this fact.) Unless the Winnie was sound-proofed – which I am sure it was not – many movie goers certainly heard the revelry at Dekarski’s while they were attempting to enjoy the film. (The loudest moments, however, mostly occurred after the movie house had closed for the evening.)

A photographer’s shop was situated across the street from Dekarski’s. In 1958 or so, I remember having my First Holy Communion photographs taken here. At that time, the Winnie was still a going concern.

Located far from Greenpoint’s commercial center, the Winnie typifies the very localized nature of movie houses during cinema’s golden age. While it did last nearly a decade longer than the similarly situated Midway – which was located in a poorer section of Greenpoint – it is not surprising that the Winnie could not survive too long into the TV era. Anyhow, those of us who remember it, really miss it.

Bway
Bway on January 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

How tall was the Winthrop? Was it taller than the supermarket is today, or like many of the smaller theaters in Bushwick and Ridgewood, like the Wyckoff Theater, Luxor, etc?

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Bway, thanks so much for posting this picture.

The picture was taken from the southwest corner of Driggs Ave. and Russell St. The Winnie was situated on the southeast corner – on the other side of Russell St. – and directly faced the park.

Although the theater opened about 15 years after the date of the picture, the park’s appearance had probably not radically changed during the interim. In the 1920’s or 30’s, however, the park’s soil was enriched and a large number of London Plane trees were planted here. They took root and soon dominated the landscape – as they do to this day. This is why many of us who grew up in the 50’s referred to Winthrop Park as “the Tree Park”. (Fortunately, London Planes were just about the only hard wood trees that the Chinese long horned beetles were not attracted to.) Thus, when I remember the Winnie, it was a theater that directly faced a forest of very large trees.

While it is possible that the Russell St. wall once also supported the old theater, it would be the only remaining relic, since the lot was totally reconstructed as part of the A&P supermarket construction.

Bway
Bway on January 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

According to reports, this is still a remaining wall of the old Winthrob Theater. Closer looking reveals bricked up emergency doorways.

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Bway
Bway on January 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

John, here is the photo of Winthrob park you asked to have posted here… The theater named for the park apparently….
Perhaps soon a real photo will turn up of the theater itself…
Where is the theater in relation to this photo?

View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2010 at 10:02 am

Well, it has now been two years since I discovered this wonderful site and posted my first commment on this page. Unlike 2008, at least someone other than myself remembered the old Winnie in 2009. Hopefully, a picutre of this theater’s exterior will surface here sometime this year. As I remember it, the Winnie’s lightly colored awning, tinted mostly in white and yellow, was very attractive, although my memory here is faint and may not be very accurate. I would be more than happy to be proven wrong if an old picture is ever posted here.

2009 was a pretty good CT year for me, since I was able to add a movie theater to the list and made some contributions to the hopefully successful landmark designation of the old Ridgewood Theatre. And it has been fun conversing with the friends I have made on this site.

Happy New Year!

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on July 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Wonderful comments Phil. I’m glad that I am not the only person to remember the old Winnie. I must add, however, that I totally forgot that a liquer store and a Democratic Club once also occupied a portion of this site. Given the fact that the Winnie’s entrance – with the great awning – only occupied a rather small portion of the building’s front, the presence of other stores there makes a lot of sence. (It would be great if someone could post a vintage picture on this page.)

I did not know that both the Winnie and the American were owned by the same person. While he did get out of the movie business, he did hold on to the American for a few additional years before giving up on that venture as well. Thanks for the info.

The only unusual movie that I remember playing at the Winnie was old Cecil B. DeMille silent version of King of Kings that ran during several Holy Weeks in the late 1950’s. If the owner tried to show first run films here, it must have been a very brief attempt. I just can’t see how such a venture could have competed with the Meserole and the Greenpoint – and, of course – it could not.

One final memory about the Russel St. wall. Do you remember the fire escape that once existed here and, in particular, the ladder that came down to roughly the height of a basketball rim. I remember that a lot of kids would play “basketball” games with the final ladder step serving as basket.

Great to make your acquaintance, Phil.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2009 at 11:03 am

This represents the first anniversary of the day I stumbled across this amazing web page and entered my first comment. Alas, this also marks the one year date of the last entry submitted for the old Winnie. So I guess I’m pretty much alone in remembering this small movie house that provided much enjoyment during my early years.

Anyhow, it’s been a lot of fun reading all the comments over the past year and making my own modest contributions. It’s also been great meeting Bway, Peter Koch, Lost Memory. Anniegirl, Warren and many others along the way.

Looking forward to a great 2009 at Cinema Treasures.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm

I was at the Winthrop’s last day as a movie house. It was a Sunday. As a nine year old who lived a block away from the theater, I had absolutely no clue that the whole place would be closed down the very next day. I think my parents did, which is why they took me and my six year old sister to a very crowded house that day. One of the movies was a horror flick, though I can’t remember the name. It WAS pretty scary.

The Winthrop – which everyone called the Winnie – was named after the park situated across the street. While Winthrop Park’s name had been changed to McGolrick back in 1940, we all called it either Winthrop or the tree park. The new name has only set in recently.

While a Met Food store currently occupies this site, initially an A&P store was located here. It served the community until the early 1990’s. Also, while the supermarket occupies the site, the old movie house was almost totally destroyed during the reconstruction. Thus, nothing really remains of the old Winnie.

At one time, the Winnie was only one of many movie theaters serving Greenpoint. The others that I remember were the first run Meserole and RKO Greenpoint and the second run American, Nassau and Midway. They are all gone and their sites currently occupied by a drug store (Meserole), a womens' and childrens' clothing store (RKO Greenpoint), a catering house (the Nassau) and, most annoyingly, a Srarbucks (The American). Thus “progress” moves on.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 10, 2006 at 4:44 pm

Not looking much these days, due to a new cladding on the facade, the former Winthrop Theatre is in use as a MET Foods supermarket as seen in this June 2006 photograph I took:
http://flickr.com/photos/kencta/186837658/

AnthonyS1957
AnthonyS1957 on June 7, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Warren, can you find the FDYBs in stores still? Where can I get copies? I went to my local Public Libary and they don’t even have them.