Showing 26 - 48 of 48 comments
Came across this image from the Museum of the City of NY website. Hope the link works but if not, they’ve got a nice collection. The caption under the photo reads “Interior of Corse Payton’s Theater showing the audience at full capacity.” Year is 1902
I had no idea a third theater ever existed in Rockville Centre. I thought it was always the Fantasy and then the twin on Sunrise Hwy and that was it. Amazing.
What’s happening with this theater? I grew up on LI and now live in NJ and I thought I read that this theater was going to be redone. Is that still planned? This theater is in a good location.
It amazes me that as late as December 1972, these kinds of reserved seat bookings were still going on. With the lack of theaters and the crowds that go to them (especially for an opening weekend for an “anticipated” film) you’d think they’d start this kind of thing up again. Why not? 3D is back…
Regarding the topic of how to list theaters either by the name it was when it closed vs. the name it had the longest, I have to agree with the idea that it should be listed under the name it had the longest. There are many reasons why this makes sense but the main one is that people coming to this site are more likely to search for a theater by the name it is most popularly known by. The example of the Rivoli is perfect. However, to make this site even more user friendly, might I suggest that it be developed where theaters could have â€œsub namesâ€ (or â€œalso- known-asâ€) granted to it? A theater like the Embassy probably should be listed as the Mayfair but with also-known-as names like DeMille, Columbia and Embassy.
There’s some nice photos of the Adams Theater on this website called NJ Digital Highway…
You’d never know a theater existed here if you saw it now. They’ve done a complete renovation on the site effectively wiping out anything from the theater.
RobertR…did you mean to post a photo of the Gables from that site? Here is one…
Lost Memory: Yes, that’s the Freeport Theater. The photo captures it the way I remember it perfectly (and not in a good way). The area was sad and this obviously once grand theater sat looking forlorn out there on Sunrise Highway.
What Paramus (and the northern NJ area needs) is a multiplex situated with tons of parking and situated so that it is the only occupant. The problem with this particular theater (as I mentioned before) is that mall parking especially on Saturday nights (granted, Sundays are much better due to Bergen’s Blue Laws). If you see a late-ish movie that gets out after 10:00 PM, the only way out of the mall is through the exits onto Route 17 south and onto Route 4. The exits into neighboring Rochelle Park and closed off. It can take up to a half hour to get out.
Money. That makes sense because it certainly wasn’t due to attendance being off. It was a decent, neighborhood place that people in the area could actually walk to. And the outside was never dirty or anything. Sad that it took money to finally bring it down.
I wish someone could post some pictures of this theater when it was in its “heyday”. I can’t imagine what it must have looked like. Right now the false facade is ripped off the front of the theater facing Broadway/Route 4. You can see that the original building had some kind of curving front where I assume the marquee was (and I think is confirmed by the 1986 photo posted by ‘Lost Memory’ where it appears like the titles gently “curve” around the front of the building). I’d like to know what made the owners sell. Although I really didn’t like this theater (it was a fairly typical neighborhood place, not overly well maintained but OK), I picked up my daughter once after she and some friends saw a movie and there was quite a crowd. This was only about 2 years ago.
can you guys confirm that the entrance and foyer/lobby space for the theater was on the corner of Atlantic and Maxwell where the video store was?
Please excuse the looooooooooooooong time replying to your question. The best I can remember, the answer is yes. The entrance was on the corner of Atlantic and Maxwell. Fairly typical layout: long lobby and then the theater (and then theaters) came up on the left.
Let’s face it: Broadway needs a lot of things and none of them will be easy. While I don’t particularly like the Hyway theater, it’s closing would remove one of the few things on the thoroughfare that brings in people after 5:00 PM.
The Bergen Mall has recently (kind of) “reopened” and it’s actually very nice. As I posted on the site for the Garden State Plaza 16, Paramus is big enough and attracts enough of a crowd that another (perhaps smaller) theater could do well. For reasons I can only guess at, the Plaza 16 never seems to show any unusual (read: “art”) films like the Palisades Center does sometimes. I assume it is because the Palisades has 21 screens vs. the Plaza’s 16. Considering this, it would’ve been cool if they’d opened a smallish multi screen theater at this mall perhaps to handle movies that the Plaza wouldn’t or couldn’t run.
In terms of how this theater looks, it’s beautiful, big and nicely laid out. The problems stem from the fact that this place attracts a huge crowd on weekends. I think that if they kept the other ten plex open, both theaters could’ve survived and even thrived because, as far as movie theaters go, this area is under served (Remember: Paramus has two Toys r us', three Gaps, two Macy’s etc. So it stands to reason that another (albeit) smaller multiplex could do well.
In going to this theater, one has to know that weekends (esp. Saturday nights) are deadly. Give yourself an hour at least to get in. Between the horrible parking at the mall and the crowds, you have to give yourself some extra time. And of course, it depends on what you’re seeing. Going to an anticipated movie on its first weekend out? Give yourself TWO hours.
I think (overall) management does a decent job of handling things here. It could so easily get out of hand because you have a lot of different ethnic and socio-econmoic groups (welcome to the Garden State Plaza Mall) all mingling here. They’ve got their hands full.
One last gripe (and it’s not about the theater but about those going to the movies): IF you know you’re seeing an anticipated movie on its opening weekend, do you really think you’re going to get a good seat coming in 10 minutes before the posted start time??? My wife and I get chuckles watching these late comers as they round the corner and see how full the theater is. And then they start the “is that seat taken” routine. I have not experienced this any where else like I do here.
Question about touring this place: What exactly do you have to do? Should I call to arrange a tour (it might just be me alone or maybe my wife and daughter if I can get them interested.) This might sound silly but I don’t want to appear dorky trying to figure it out by just stopping by on a weekend to get a tour. But I’d love to get a look around this place.
A couple of things:
People mention a small theater in Freeport located near the train station called The Plaza. I have no recollection of it but I saw a photo on a Long Island website and would like to know if anyone can add it to this site. I’d like to learn more about it.
Can anyone give their opinions about what they feel “happened” to Freeport? My parents said it was an amazing place in the 50s and 60s and from the looks of the neighborhoods and the size of the homes (some are worthy of a Hampton’s house) it must’ve been quite an elite, upscale area once. How could such an area get so low? The Sunrise Highway corridor you drive through now is horrible. Anyone have any comments?
Yes, Ed Solero, that is the building. It is right across the street from what was (and perhaps still is) a Blockbuster video store. In that little shopping center was the Carvels (again, that could still be there too).
It looks like a pretty modern looking but non descript office building. I remember when they built it, the pretty much ripped off the front of the building and then put in this kind of glassy atrium lobby “thing” where you could see through it into the stairs. Kind of 80s looking. There were some doctors offics in it at that time. The reason why you can’t remember what it looks like now is that they pretty effectively wiped out any resemblence to it ever being a movie theater.
I finally got around to reading the article about the Baldwin theater in the NYTimes. And it’s a real heartbreaker. Despite being over 20 years old, it still echoes the sentiments of a lot of people and especially those of us on this website.
Here is the article:
February 16, 1986
ABOUT LONG ISLAND
By FRED MCMORROW
THE RKO BALDWIN, built when they named Long Island movie theaters after their villages, is at the top of a slope where its marquee can’t be missed if you’re downhill at Merrick Road and Grand Avenue, the original hub of this village’s business district.
The Baldwin always changed its feature attractions Wednesdays. But when it had a good thing going, it kept the same show Wednesday after Wednesday. ‘'Santa Claus: The Movie’‘ stayed on that marquee for two months of Wednesdays.
But that had to end with the holidays, and I kept watching the marquee for what would finally be ‘'Starting Wednesday.’‘ Even if I didn’t intend to see the next movie, I always had to know what it was. What’s-playing-at-the-Baldwin was vital community trivia around here. Yes: Was.
Nothing trivial replaced ‘'Santa Claus’‘ on that marquee. THE END did. What’s playing at the Baldwin? ’‘FOR SALE,’‘ in those big blue capital letters they use for the marquee title. What’s playing at the Roxy? What’s playing at the Astor? the Paramount? What’s happening all over has finally happened on Merrick Road between Park and Harrison Avenues.
The place where all our children and our friends' children discovered the magic of seeing a movie from the dark and on a great big screen, not the dinky business end of a television set, is not Baldwin’s only movie house. There is the newer Cinema, halfway between Sunrise Highway and the Southern State.
But the Cinema, which opened as a spacious, wide-screen house, was hardly a teen-ager when it was converted into a ‘'multiplex.’‘ And what advancement is that over the nickelodeon? Just one. The sound. But that is why the Cinema is surviving and the Baldwin is not.
The Baldwin opened in 1933. Howard Herrman, who was born down the block in the ‘'upstairs’‘ over the Herrman family stationery store, says he remembers it well. This well: ’‘Arthur E. Norton, the Superintendent of Schools, gave a big speech before the movie.’‘ (Pause.) ’‘Will you look at this, I can remember a middle initial, but I don’t remember the movie!’'
Neither do I, of course; we only moved here in 1959. But neither does the Baldwin Public Library. Its microfilm files of The Baldwin Citizen, the doyenne of this area’s weekly papers, skip 1933. But the ads show that in that era Wallace Beery, Mickey Rooney, Janet Gaynor, Norma Shearer, Grace Moore (you don’t remember ‘'One Night of Love’‘?), James Cagney and Beryl Mercer did their turns on the Baldwin’s screen. (Beryl Mercer? Cagney’s mother in ’‘Public Enemy’‘! I thought everybody knew that … ) My own sometimes reliable memory insists that at least once in the Baldwin, Clark Gable told Vivien Leigh after he rescued her from the burning of Atlanta and got her home to Tara that he was joining the Confederate service because he liked lost causes. Like this one. The former Eileen Palmer and I have made inquiries about the community chipping in to turn the Baldwin into a repertory theater, but nothing’s happening.
The Baldwin was not the village’s first movie house. A retired woman who lives near us remembers a store-sized theater on Grand Avenue around the corner from Howie’s. ‘'It cost a quarter,’‘ she said. ’‘My girlfriends and I saved up all week for Saturday. The piano player was always late and when he did get there he’d sit and study the music like it was a concerto or something and we’d clap and clap until he got started and the movie started. I had this awful crush on William S. Hart!’'
Yes. ‘'Come quick. Indians!’‘ The only silent I ever saw when movies weren’t called silents because there weren’t any talkies was ’‘The Lost World.’‘ It was shown in a Y.M.C.A. and the projectionist wasn’t very good and the film snapped just as the poor old confused dinosaur broke London Bridge. Or was it Tower Bridge?
The last movie the former Eileen Palmer and I saw at the Baldwin was ‘'Kiss of the Spider Woman.’‘ There were about seven other people in the fine old house. When the film ended, everybody left and nobody was coming in for the second show. I don’t think there was one.
Everybody in town is sorry about this, but then it’s everybody’s fault, including the movie makers. Movies aren’t any better than ever than they were when that empty slogan was dreamed up. Distributors' tastes aren’t any better, either. ‘'Spider Woman’‘ was the best film the Baldwin had had for I don’t know how long.
And I don’t know for how long because it’s been years since it was an imperative of my life to see at least one movie in a theater a week. Last year I think I saw three movies in theaters. I don’t have to wait for a movie to find its way to The Tube, but I do, and that is neither television’s fault nor the fault of the Baldwin’s owner, RKO Century Warner Theaters; it’s mine.
‘'No, don’t fault yourself,’‘ Morris Englander, the head of the real estate department of RKO Century Etc., said in a brief interview. ’‘The individual theater does not bring in what a multiplex does. That’s a fact of life.’'
And of course his company has watched the decline in attendance at the Baldwin just as all of us here have. He has a gentle, friendly manner, conveying over the phone the image of a man who is dedicated to theaters, but also to what he has to do. He declined, officially, to confirm a report that ‘'an architect’‘ had made a bid for the Baldwin that was rejected.
And he would not disclose the asking price, nor what kind of bids he was getting. But he gave me just the tip of a hint that the building would survive. Was there any possibility, I asked, pressing him, that it would be torn down to make room for one more row of condominiums?
‘'Well, it’s a building,’‘ Mr. Englander said, ’‘and we’re offering it as a building.’'
Hi…I haven’t been on this site in a long time because of chaning jobs and all. I was CConnolly but I lost my password and the site hasn’t sent it to me. Anyway…loved all the comments on “MY” theater, Century’s Baldwin.
To jgroom: if you were an usher there during that period, I definately walked by you or got some kind of service from you. I must’ve gone to the Baldwin every week during the summers of ‘75 and '76 and beyond. But those two stick out. Yes, I saw “The Island of Dr. Moreau there. Did you work there when that god awaful Joan Collins movie "Empire of the Ants” was there? Terrible movie but perfect for me and my older brother to go see and kill a couple of hours with. It was just such as nice place. So well maintained. And how about that wild floral print all over the auditorium? It hung over the little hallways leading to the exit doors in the back of the theater.
And I totally agree with you about how the theater’s closing (with “Rambo First Blood” in 1985) was the death knell for that little neighborhood. It was slowly sliding even before that but when I was a kid, it was a great place with Pergaments and Nassau Chemists and, of course, “Howies” with his ancient looking mother sitting in the back in that kitchen of his (only die hard Baldwinites will know what anyone means by Howies). And Carvels right across from the theater. The neighborhood wasn’t upscale, there wasn’t much to look at but there was always a lot to do and see. I think my generation (born in the 60s) was the last to experience, however fleetingly, the concept of neighborhood, neighbors and a sense of community. These multiplexes and movie malls. Some are nice but there totally impersonal.
The last movie I saw there was a really cute, very good movie called “Heaven Help Us” around 1985. I had not been in the theater for a few years and about halfway through the movie, I just happened to kind of look around at the auditorium. I noticed that the ceiling paint was chipping really badly and it was very dirty. I felt sad because I sensed that the theater’s time was ending. But I’m glad I got to see such a nice movie there for my last time.
Thanks everyone for writing with their memoris and for everyone who worked there, as a former patron, I thank you for your great work.