Idle Hour Theater

24-29 Jackson Avenue,
Long Island City, NY 11101

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areacode212 on March 6, 2015 at 3:58 am

Earlier today, I was browsing the Greater Astoria Historical Society’s photos, looking for pictures of the Vernon Theatre, when I came across a picture of the Masonic Temple: It is indeed the building I mentioned in my previous comment (24-20 Jackson Ave).

I also put together a collage of the above Idle Hour photo, with the Google Street Views of the same location. If the theatre’s front entrance was positioned the way I think it was, the roadway in front of it has been filled in as a pedestrian area with trees, in recent years:

areacode212 on March 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

By the way, the location in my previous comment matches where Ed Solero determined the Idle Hour was: the current 24-29 Jackson Ave.

Also, in a comment, Ed wondered about the location of the Masonic Building whose auditorium was used as the original Idle Hour. Google brings up references to a “masonic building” or a “masonic temple” located at 244 Jackson Ave (246 Jackson Ave also comes up in a search result). This issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1931-12-10 describes it as a 3-story brick structure. As I suspected, this matches the current 24-20 Jackson Ave (where Sage General Store, a hip brunch place, is located), which has a kinda fancy masonic look, even at first glance.

Also, there is an alley on Court Square (which you can see on Google Maps), where you can see how far back the building goes. It appears to go far back enough where one can imagine it can fit an auditorium. I’m in that area somewhat regularly. If I’m ever in the mood, I may go in and try to poke around.

areacode212 on March 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

You can find old maps of Queens online. This map looks like it might show where the Idle Hour was. If you zoom & scroll over to the upper right, you can see a building labeled “Photo Play”, right on the corner of Jackson & 12th St (now 45th Ave), next to 249 Jackson Ave. I’m guessing this is the Idle Hour.

johndereszewski on December 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm

The wonderful poster regarding the “Voice of Ireland” that TT posted in the Photo section raises an interesting question. The very detailed description of the theater’s location – at 12th St. opposite St. John’s Hospital – would, under the current street configuration, be a physical impossibility. This is because the hospital site, which is near Court Square, would now be close to the intersection of Jackson Ave, and approximately 25th St. Thus, when the poster was printed – and the “Voices of Ireland” sang – a very different street configuration held sway. My guess is that the sequence of the old numbered streets was superceeded when the Borough of Queens initiated its comprehensive plan to reorganize all of the streets in the borough. This drawn out process started in the 1910’s and ended in the 1930’s. For the most part, this involved changing nemed to numbered streets but, in this case, it apparently resulted in the re-numbering of numbered streets.

It would also be great to know the date of the poster.

Finally, it is unfortunate that this page’s current main picture is a current google map of the vicinity – and probably not the correct vicinity – and not one of the terrific vintage photos. To find them, you need to enter the photo section. I really hope this situation is addressed by the site administrator.

johndereszewski on June 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I just read a message that Joe Vogel posted on the Vernon Theatre site last October that helps clarify the exact site of this theater. In an ad that memtions movies shown at both theaters, it provides a Court Square address for the Idle Hour. This is exactly where Ed Selero placed it in an earlier post and should, thus, resolve any uncertainty in this theater’s location.

johndereszewski on October 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I just noticed the wonderful vintage picture of this old theater that was recently posted at the top of the page. What a terrific addition – and thanks to whoever made this contribution.

johndereszewski on August 17, 2011 at 3:24 am

Ed, I entirely agree with your point about retaining, in some way, the original addresses of Queens based theaters like the Idle Hour. Beyond providing some historic integrity, the original addresses will be of value to researchers who wish to review old newspaper articles and theater digests that only refer to the old addresses.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Just wondering if there should be a way of using an original (even if antiquated) address for a movie theater, while also displaying the modern address equivalent in the heading. Interesting that the obsolete address of 251 Jackson Ave has Google mapped to the exact spot where we believe this theater to have existed (now known as 24-29 Jackson Ave). Perhaps the site administrator did some hard-coding behind the scenes? I still think displaying both addresses where appropriate (and where known) would be very helpful. The modern address would map the location correctly, while listing the old address as well would provide some historic integrity.

johndereszewski on August 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Wow that was quick, site manager. Thanks for the change!

johndereszewski on August 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

Another gentle reminder to the site manager: Please add the 11101 zip code to the title. Since will make this page far more accessable to a larger number of readers.

johndereszewski on February 17, 2010 at 3:35 am

As a lark, I visited the nine other sites named Idle Hour. They were scattered throughout the USA – with one showing up in Toronto. All of them began operations in the early years of the last century, and only one of them, situated in rural Virginia, is still operating. This theater is actually the successor of the original Idle Hour, which was a wooden structure that opened in 1912. They say that Tom Mix and his horse once paid a visit to the old theater.

I attached the CT page of the last existing Idle Hour below. I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy.


johndereszewski on February 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm

A very interesting thread on a very old theater. Wherever the Idle Hour was situared, and Ed Selero’s 7/12/07 post makes a compelling case, the theater’s zip code is definitely 11101, and this should be added to the introduction. If a comment by Warren in another LIC theater page had not mentioned the Idle Hour, I would never have come across this page.

One other point. I was struck by the Idle Hour’s quaint title and assumed that it would be about the only so named theater when I conducted the search. But fully 10 Idle Hour’s came up. So I guess this was a more popular name than I thought, in a very different era.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm

The parcel at the corner of Jackson Ave and 45th Avenue is a 50x100 lot encompassing addresses from 24-25 through 24-29 Jackson. I found a build date of 1931, but that is not Building Dept info so it could very well be in error.

Here is a view of the structure – with wraparound yellow awning – which stands in the shadow of the Citibank skyscraper across 45th Ave (to the right in this image). Jackson Ave is actually the main thoroughfare depicted here. The theater actually sat on a short access lane formed by the triangle at the acute intersection of Jackson and 45th. The small vintage photo that Warren posted on Feb 6, 2006, shows the row of brownstones in the background that once lined the blockfront now occupied by the Citibank tower.

The building depicted is situated on two lots. The triangular portion of the storefronts on the left are situated on an adjacent lot. I imagine these are separate structures that have had their facades “unified” over time through renovation.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Scroll down to “Jackson Ave” on this website and you’ll find that 251 Jackson Ave converts to an approximate current address of 2401 Jackson Ave with a cross street around 45th Avenue – at least according to the webmaster’s calculations. I do not attest to the veracity of the information on this website, but I thought I’d share with anyone interested.

Here is a link to the main page were a number online resources for converting archaic addresses to their modern day equivalents (as well as other property data resources) are located.

Not sure how accurately this relates to the Idle Hour Theater. The northwest corner of Jackson and 45th Ave is the location of the 50-story Citicorp Building. Could the remains of the Idle Hour exist in the skyscraper’s shadow or be buried beneath its footprint? The description above mentions the Masonic Building across the street… is this structure still standing?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 1, 2006 at 4:19 pm

Warren… I wonder if the entrance depicted in your photo was actually on Jackson Ave. While things may certainly have changed over the many years since that photo was taken, Jackson Ave currently is a straight run from the small traffic triangle where it intersects with Borden Ave and Vernon Blvd over the Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance all the way to its terminus where it crossed over Queens Plaza and becomes 31st Ave. Your photo seems to depict a T-shaped intersection which no longer exists. An alternative explanation might be that the theater might have been located on a plaza that faced Jackson Ave and therefore set back a bit giving the illusion of a T-shaped intersection in the photo (similar to the way the Plaza Theater in Corona is situated back from Roosevelt Ave).

Anyway… a number of buildings on Jackson Ave still have the old address numbers stenciled over their doorways (a photo on the forgotten-ny website shows that the former #147 Jackson Ave is now 10-49 Jackson Ave, for instance). I suppose it would require a stroll along the avenue to see if one could identify (or at least narrow down) the location of the former #251.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 24, 2005 at 6:04 pm

It is a neighborhood theatre…in Variety jargon.

shoeshoe14 on August 24, 2005 at 6:02 pm

What is a “nabe”?