Imperial Theatre

869 Halsey Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11233

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Functions: Church

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Imperial Theater September 2004

This was a small neighborhood theatre located on Halsey Street between Saratoga Avenue and Howard Avenue. Originally built as a church, it was opened as the Imperial Theatre on November 8, 1909. It was closed in 1940.

In 1945, the fa├žade was rebuilt and it converted back to church use.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Bway on September 23, 2004 at 1:15 pm

I wonder if it closed before the early 1970 release of “The Exorcist”. The irony of playing that in a theater that is to become a church.

PeterKoch on September 23, 2004 at 1:19 pm

Thanks, Bway. According to my aunt, this was the original Brooklyn location of St. John’s University.

What is the address of this St. John the Baptist RC Church ?

I’ve been in the church and rectory of St. Jean Baptiste RC Church at 74th and Lexington on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. That was late 1980 and early 1981. My best friend was studying for the priesthood at the time and had stayed there.

It would be interesting to research the history of Our Lady Of Lourdes R.C. Church, which once stood on Aberdeen St. between Bway and Bushwick Avenue. It was demolished between 1972 and 1976.

You might recall the uproar in the late 1980’s over the conversion of a Greenwich Village church into a night club, and the scene showing that in L.A. in the 1992 film “Basic Instinct”.

Bway on September 23, 2004 at 1:29 pm

Peter, they are at 75 Lewis Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesant. In their website they have a History Section that gives an all to brief history of them, and I can;t find any more information. In another section, they give a photo of the interior, which obviously is a “lower” church, or the main church with a “fake” drop ceiling.

Yes, I love those type of conversions, like the one in “Basic Instinct”. I remember the conversion in Greenwich village too. Is is still a nightclub, and do you know it’s name?

PeterKoch on September 23, 2004 at 1:36 pm

You know the whole thing by heart, lostmemory ?

Bway, the Imperial must have closed well before “The Exorcist” opened in NYC the day after Christmas 1973.

I am both awed and horrified at the thought of how “Exorcist” would have looked and sounded at Loew’s Valencia in Jamaica. I have read on this site that it played in a similar theater, the now-closed State Lake in Chicago’s Loop.

Actually, some have said that “Exorcist” was a commercial of sorts for the Catholic Church, implying that its rituals were powerful enough to cast out demons. Then again, both priests died in the process, the younger, first possessed, then a suicide, then absolved before he died …

PeterKoch on September 23, 2004 at 1:41 pm

Thanks, Bway. No, I don’t know the name of that church that became a nightclub. However, I have heard of a nightclub in Manhattan called “The Library”, which looked like one, and know of a “Seminary Coffee Shop” at Lincoln, Halsted and Fullerton, in Chicago, near several blues clubs.

deleted user
[Deleted] on October 24, 2004 at 11:46 am

The Imperial theatre “Halsey” opened 1930 and closed in 1945

alicia on November 8, 2004 at 4:10 pm

Yes I would also like to find out more about Our Lady Of Lourdes Church on Aberdeen St. I went to there school and I was a graduate of the class of 1969.
posted by alicia Nov 8th 2004

Bway on June 8, 2006 at 4:00 am

Judging by the building, it was never that large of a theater to begin with.

Bway on June 8, 2006 at 4:02 am

Here’s an aerial view of the old Imperial Theater, which now has been altered into a church. It’s right across from Saratoga Park.

View link

Bway on April 20, 2009 at 7:11 am

What year did this Imperial stop showing movies?

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