Marvin Theatre

1216 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Van Buren Theatre, Geiner's Hansa Theatre

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Marvin Theatre

The Van Buren Theatre in Bushwick was one of numerous small, late-run movie houses that once operated under the shadows of the Broadway elevated subway line. It opened on May 2, 1910 with vaudeville acts and movies.

In 1932 it was renamed Greiner’s Hansa Theatre, and screened German films until 1933. In 1934 it was renamed Marvin Theatre.

After closing it was used as a second-hand furniture store. This had closed by 2005, and the building was demolished in 2006.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Bway on October 29, 2004 at 1:15 pm

It’s on the cross attached to the building, and sticks out from the building. Again, I am not sure that is 1216 Bway, but it’s a good chance it is.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2004 at 1:17 pm

Thanks. BTW, I asked my dad about the Marvin last night, told him where it was, but he doesn’t remember it. I’m glad I tried asking him, though.

dave-bronx™ on October 29, 2004 at 5:37 pm

According to (Verizon phone directory) there is no listing for 1216 Broadway Brooklyn NY – I did a search for both the specific address, and also churches on Broadway, there are only 7, none at 1216, and none named Prayer Palace.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2004 at 5:44 pm

Perhaps the Prayer Palace has no phone number, or an unlisted one. It reads like a field trip is needed to check this one out.

Bway on October 30, 2004 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Lostmemory. That means that the Prayer Palace is probably not the Marvin theater, unless the numbers skip a lot. It also means that the theater building is/was located just west of the Prayer Palace building, perhaps just out of view to the right fo me when I took the above photo. Or perhaps it has been torn down, there is a “newer” looking building at the extreme right of the photo.

Bway on October 30, 2004 at 2:12 pm

Here’s another photo I found on the net of the building, that still seems very theater like, but could have been a bank, if not a theater. Peter is right, only a roadtrip will solve this.

I also looked through my photos some more, and found this one, that pans back a little further. Unfortunately, the reason for the photo, the train, blocks the view. However, if the Prayer Palace (the building with the coupola) is not the Marvin, the marvin must be demolished, because the marvin would be just to the right of the Prayer palace if that building is not the Marvin.
Also notice the Empire Theater’s peak just above and behind the “Prayer Palace” building, and the RKO Bushwick building in the background on the left:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 4, 2005 at 10:30 am

The Van Buren Theater is a low rise single storey structure which barely rises to the height of the El train tracks. It is located on the corner of Broadway and Van Buren Street (actual given address in F.D.Yearbooks is 1216 Broadway). It is also listed at this address and operating as a movie theatre in the 1914/15 edition of American Motion Picture Directory.

For many years it was in use as a bedding/mattress warehouse and I managed to gain entry and take a look around the building a couple of years ago. There was still quite a lot of architectural decoration to be seen and traces of the proscenium opening were visible between piles of matresses.

It was currently empty when I viewed it a few weeks ago in June 2005. There is a ‘To Lease’ sign on the building for future use as storage.

Bway on June 12, 2006 at 4:35 am

The Marvin-Van Buren Theater is very much still existing. It was a small theater as Ken mentioned. It’s the small triangle-like building seen in this aerial view:

View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 15, 2006 at 2:21 pm

Sad news folks…
The arial view posted by bway on 12th June is a little out of date. I passed by the site of the former Van Buren/Marvin Theatre today and it has now been demolished. It must have happened earlier in 2006 as already foundations have been laid for constructing a new building on the site.

Bway on April 27, 2009 at 7:47 am

Here’s a current view of the Hansa site. It’s now a storage facility:

View link

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