Whitney Theatre

67-05 Fresh Pond Road,
Ridgewood, NY 11385

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tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm

As a side note, with regard to the “Childs” type building, which later became a bank—my mother was a secretary for the Cemetery Workers Union Local 365, which was located above the bank, and I used to work part-time there during the summer filing papers in the office during the late afternoon. The building used to house a couple of other offices up on the upstairs level, too, and afforded a nice view of Fresh Pond Road and the buses swinging onto Fresh Pond Road from 67th Avenue.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Great comments and information everyone! Such knowledge and details are what make this site as enjoyably informative as it is.

I remember going to the Oasis as a kid, which was situated just a half-mile or so up Fresh Pond Road going towards Metropolitan Avenue. You woukld think the Whitney would be better situated to serve moviegoers, as it was right at the heart of the public transportation system, even as far back as the teens, while the Oasis was less accessible in that regard, but the Oasis was a truly majestic theatre, even after its prime. I’d go to the movies there and follow up with a beautiful sit-down dinner at the Chinese restaurant across the street, a cavernous place called Fresh Pond Inn, if I recall correctly.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 10, 2014 at 9:29 am

While the reason for the Whitney’s early demise – competition from the Brooklyn theaters – that LM’s article noted and that I expanded upon in my previous comment is an attractive and certainly a reasonable one, there is an alternate possibility. As noted in a much earlier comment, the imminent construction of the Oasis Theatre in the immediate vicinity – which I believe occurred in 1927 -could have easily caused the Whitney’s owners to bow out at that time. Besides being a spanking new building, the Oasis would clearly have been better positioned to adapt to the sound era.

Going back to the first reason, my earlier comment neglected to describe the allure that the (Brooklyn) Broadway theater district would have had to the new residents of Ridgewood. This was, after all, where many of them lived and enjoyed life before making the move into Queens.

Bway
Bway on April 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

The exterior of the current store building does very much have the distinctive “Childs Restaurant” facade, and is definitely 1930’s in design. It was Hamburg Savings Bank when I was a kid, and I think it became a Greenpoint Savings Bank at some point. The old article was very interesting. it was only about 20 years old when torn down. The mention of “Tramps and Undesirables” in the building was hysterical!! BTW, Mini Mart is still in the building at the corner, if you look at the street view. It was always Mini Mart in my time. Interestingly the attractive building next to the “Childs” building in the photo Themonagan posted recently was also torn down at some point, replaced with a one story building Mini Mart is in.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

Hi tkmonaghan… Mother’s was actually in the corner building, sharing the ground floor with that newstand, not in the “theater-like” building that I think may have housed a Child’s. In your photo, you can see a portion of that building on the right, with a hat shop occupying one of the storefronts. Not sure if Child’s typically shared its footprint with other merchants, so your photo certainly does call into question whether my hunch is correct.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 9, 2014 at 9:16 am

LM, thanks so much for the reprint of a very interesting article. It confirmed a point I have made in other contexts about Ridgewood being very much a Brooklyn generated community that had, at least in those days, far more in common with its neighbor to the west than to much of its own borough. In this sense, the significance of the old Myrtle Ave. El in providing a link to the old community cannot be overstated. One can easily envision huge numbers of old Ridgewoodites taking the El to visit Fulton Street’s thriving entertainment and commercial district in Downtown Brooklyn. Even when I worked in Bushwick during the 1970’s and the El no longer extended beyond Broadway, people in Ridgewood would regret the lack of this very efficient link to downtown Brooklyn.

Interestingly enough, it was this Brooklyn mindset – as well as the clear logistical benefits – that encouraged the people of Ridgewood and Gelndale a little over one hundred years ago to have their communities placed within the Brooklyn postal zones. This, in turn, caused many of Ridgewood’s old movie houses to be featured in the Brooklyn section of the Movie Clocks for many years to come. The old Ridgewood Theatre was, in fact, still considered to be a “Brooklyn” theater in the newspapers up until its unfortunate demise.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Ed,

I’m not sure when it opened for business exactly, but there was a restaurant called Mother’s that was there, a picture of which I just uploaded under the photos tab on the top of this page. The newsstand in the photo would later become a 24-hour grocery store called Mini Mart, which was a popular stop for sandwiches and beer during my youth growing up in the RGMV area. The photo I uploaded was taken sometime during the 1940s, IIRC, and is from the original negative that I picked up at an auction a while back.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I’m not sure what was located at this address right after the Whitney was demolished, but the theatre building was still standing in early 1930 according to an article in the NY Daily Star published on February 15, 1930.

Old Whitney Theater in Ridgewood To Be Replaced by Stores.

“The Whitney Theater, Fresh Pond Road and Sixty-Seventh avenue (Cornelia street), Ridgewood, long an eyesore to that community, is to be razed, it was learned today. For more than two years the old building has been boarded up. In the rear, on Sixty-second street, adjoining the back platform of the Myrtle avenue "L” line, is a lot which is used as a dumping-ground for rubbish. Old residents of Ridgewood say the Whitney was built twenty years ago when that section was sparsely settled. Both sides of Fresh Pond road from Myrtle avenue to Metropolitan avenue were lined with trees.

For some time a stock company gave performances in the theater and later motion pictures and vaudeville were introduced. With the population increasing, more motion picture theaters were established in Ridegwood. Practically all of the new residents at that time were former Brooklynites who made it a point to board an “L” train and go down to their former neighborhoods when they wanted a little relaxation.

For a time the Whitney Theater prospered, but there was keen competition. The theater changed hands several times and it was reported that several large theatrical interests were negotiating to acquire the building. About two years ago the last motion picture performance was held in the building. The place was closed and boarded up. On a number of occasions the doors in the rear were opened late at night and upon investigation policemen found tramps and other undesirables had taken refuge in the place.

There have been several fires in the building of late, started by mischievous boys who gained entrance to the building. Some weeks ago Ridgewood civic organizations complained of the building as an eyesore. Police of the Glendale station communicated with the agent for the building several days ago when a billboard, loosened by the wind from its fastenings on the facade of the building, fell to the street.

Yesterday a group of men were making an examination of the building, and one of them, questioned by a policeman, told him the building is to be torn down and that stores are to be erected on the site. A number of merchants in the vicinity also stated that the old theater building is coming down".

Even though the 1930 article states that “the Whitney was built twenty years ago” which would give a build year of 1910, the Whitney was actually built in 1912.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Just read through this thread, and the earlier questions about the current building on site having a theatrical air about it. Couldn’t find if anyone already mentioned this, but, knowing that prior to the bank, the occupant was a restaurant, I wonder if this may have been one of the many Childs Restaurant, locations. That early national chain was known for the architectural detail of its buildings. From images of other Childs locations that I’ve seen (including the remains of 2 Coney Island locations), this structure very much has the same look. And the timing would be right, if the Whitney lasted into the 1920’s, since that’s about when the chain started to peak in popularity.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on April 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm

You’re very welcome, John.

Bway, I believe I may have a couple of glass plate negatives of the El being built around Forest Ave Station, too, and if I recall correctly, a large billboard in the background of one of them is advertising the new Mathews Model Flats for rent for $15 a month. I will check and post again if I can locate it.

Bway
Bway on April 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Speaking of the M line running at ground level, there is also a photo on the net somewhere of the Forest Ave Station when it ran on the ground, with the el being built up above the old station. Interesting the original Forest Ave station was actually on the OTHER side of Forest Ave (going towards Fresh Pond) than it is now as an elevated station.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on April 2, 2014 at 6:01 am

Thanks so much for the wonderful 1914 pictures of both the old Whitney and the street level rail line. I knew that what is now the M train did exist for a number of years as a grade level line, before the el was extended beyond Wyckoff Ave., but I have never seen an actual picture of it. So thanks again.

tkmonaghan
tkmonaghan on March 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I’ve posted under the Photos tab a couple of images of the Whitney Threatre in 1914 from original glass negatives I purchased at auction several years ago.

Bway
Bway on August 22, 2013 at 10:40 am

That is very interesting! It seems the Whitney was an abandoned theater very early on. This kind of explains why it was demolished so early on. A shame, I have never seen a street view of the old theater, the one above is about as best as I have seenm and it is also from the side. BTW, Welcome back Ken!!

Bway
Bway on November 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

I don’t think so. That looks like the emergency escape stairway from the balcony or something.
You can also see where the stage area is. It’s much larger than I had thought.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 19, 2009 at 10:34 am

I’ve never seen a photo of the front of the Whitney either. Is that an opening in the side of the building in the 1914 photo?

Bway
Bway on November 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

That was a pretty large building. I have never seen an actual photo of the front though, which would be nice to see.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 19, 2009 at 9:30 am

You can see part of the Whitney in this 1914 photo.

Bway
Bway on April 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

The Whitney had to be torn down very early on, as the restaurant building that is currently used as a bank on the site, is quite old.

jackahearn
jackahearn on November 19, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Peter…Rather,… perhaps just a sign of my aging…sigh..:)

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 19, 2008 at 2:10 pm

More power to YOU, once upon a time !

jackahearn
jackahearn on November 19, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Hmmmm..and to think, that according to my family folklore..my Uncle played at the Whitney as a vaudevilian…(as above, July 28th ‘08)

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 19, 2008 at 11:52 am

There is a picture of the Whitney Theatre in the 100th anniversary issue of the Ridgewood Times. It also appears near the right edge of a photograph in the “Ridgewood” section of the book, “Old Queens In Early Photographs”. The photo is primarily of the Fresh Pond Road station of the Myrtle Avenue “elevated” line, when it still ran on the ground.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 19, 2008 at 11:46 am

The Whitney Theatre was built in 1912 by the owner of the Whitney Hotel in Sea Gate, near Coney Island, according to the 100th anniversary issue of the Ridgewood Times. The ground site had previously been used for an open-air cinema…Additional research of my own revealed that in December, 1922, Herman Weingarten, who already ran the Parthenon and Belvedere in Ridgewood, took over the Whitney and spent $10,000 on “modernization,” including the installation of a Hope Jones Unit Organ. Vaudeville was discarded, and only movies were shown. Programs changed every two days and were first-run for the Glendale-Fresh Pond area.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on July 28, 2008 at 1:52 pm

You’re more than welcome, once upon a time, and thanks again !