Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Loew's Valencia Theatre opening program

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the Jamaica section of Queens. Opened on January 12, 1929 with Monte Blue in “White Shadows in the South Seas” plus vaudeville on stage. The Loew’s Valencia Theatre was the first of the five Loew’s ‘Wonder’ Theatre’s to open. It was equipped with a Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ of 4 Manuals / 23 Ranks.

The auditorium is in Atmospheric style, decorated in a mix of Spanish Colonial and pre-Columbian styles. Seating was provided for 3,554 in orchestra and balcony levels.

Early in 1935, stage shows were dropped and replaced by double features. Until the 1960’s, the Loew’s Valencia Theatre was the most successful movie theatre in Queens, due partly to its location in Jamaica, then the shopping hub of Queens and Long Island, and because programms were shown at least a week ahead of all other theatres in the borough. It closed as a movie theatre in May 1977 with the movie “The Greatest”, and has since served as the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People church.

The Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ has found a new home in the Balbao Theatre, San Diego, California, where in 2008 it was installed and refurbished at a cost of $1 million. It debuted at the Balbao Theatre in February 2009.

The Loew’s Valencia Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Contributed by Jason R, Bryan Krefft, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 681 comments)

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on January 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

Those lurid colors and gaudy chandelier in the auditorium will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who visited while the Valencia was still a cinema. If you look at the recent photos in Black & White, you will get a better impression of what it was really like.

LuisV
LuisV on February 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

I just came across this on a site called Scouting New York:

Just a quick note on the incredible Valencia Movie Palace in Queens. For those who would like to see this work of art in person, the Tabernacle of Prayer Church has generously set-up visiting time every Sunday from 11:00-11:45am, when services will not be in session. Just walk right in the lobby – they’ll be expecting you! Please try to come during these times, as the church will otherwise be conducting services and programs in the theater throughout the day.

The address is 165-11 Jamaica Ave, with F, E, J, and Z service just a few blocks away. Needless to say, I highly recommend the trip.

BJK
BJK on July 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

“paktype: I heard that this theater’s patronage suffered with the closing of the Jamaica elevated in the mid 1970’s.” Ironically, the demolition of ‘The El’ was trumpeted as the key to a ‘revitalized Jamaica’. When the Jamaica portion was taken down in 1977, the two main dept stores, Gertz and Macy’s closed almost immediately after. This was a huge blow to the downtown Jamaica Ave commercial strip, an area that was in decline for almost a decade by that point. As pointed out by others, by the time the Valencia closed, it had long since stopped showing ‘first-run’ movies. I remember only ‘Blaxploitation’ and B horror/slasher flicks at that point. I was a child in the ‘60’s, and my fondest memories were of shopping on the Ave, and our mother taking my sister and me to a Disney matinee on a Sat afternoon.
However, as stated here, the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People pentacostal church has done a beautiful job of restoration and maintenance: it is well worth a visit if you happen to be in this area on a Sunday.

Bway
Bway on July 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Actually, the Tabernacle of Prayer was already in the Valencia BEFORE service on the eastern end of the Jamaica El closed…. See here for a photo. Notice the Tabernacle of Prayer cross is already up, and the Valencia Theater sign gone: Click here for link

BJK
BJK on July 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm

That’s a great photo, with a peek of the marquee of the RKO Alden across the street in the lower right corner. I had forgotten that this theater was still open in ‘77. Forgotten NY has a collection of photos of the downtown Jamaica strip from a recent walking tour: http://forgotten-ny.com/2011/06/jamaica-avenue-queens/ Looks like the teardown of the Jamaica section of the El was finished by the end of 1978.

Bway
Bway on July 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

Yes, I didn’t realize the Alden was still open then yet too, and as a theater. In any event, while the removal of the Jamaica El was a fiasco for the Jamaica business district, it really only made a bad situation worse. It was in trouble even before the removal of the el. In any event, the removal of the el can’t be blamed as one of the reasons for the demise of the Valencia, as the Valencia had already closed BEFORE the el was removed.

LuisV
LuisV on August 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

Free tours of the Valencia are being offered by the church on Saturday, September 21st by appointment only. More info here: http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=6862

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

In the Photos Section, I’ve posted a 9/53 ad which shows the status of technological improvements on the Loew’s Greater New York circuit. All theatres with two checks before their names have wide screens and stereophonic sound. One check means wide screen only. Zero checks, no changes yet.

Patsy
Patsy on November 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=6288

This is a link recently sent to me via Facebook with many amazing photos of this former theatre.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on November 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Here’s an activated link to the original post by “Cybermoz” last January: Scoutingny

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