Baronet Theatre

205 4th Avenue,
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

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Showing 101 - 118 of 118 comments

MikeH on July 19, 2006 at 5:07 pm

My job in Asbury Park was assistant city manager and advertising director for South Shore theatres. South Shore meant all Reade theatres from Long Branch through Seaside Heights and Toms River.
It included the Shore Drive-In which is probably where you saw Lord Jim. My duties as assistant city manager was to manage the St. James Theatre and to handle the group sales for SOM at the Paramount and MFL at the St. James.
Both of these attractions were in 70mm and both played exclusively in the entire shore area. If I remember correctly, the closest runs of these pictures was one other in North Jersey, New York and Philadelphia. For that reason, both attractions in Asbury Park played on hard ticket (reserved seats) and both played more than a year. The ticket prices were $3.50 for front orchestra and rear balcony, $4.50 for orchestra and $5.50 loge (which was a smoking loge)and we never had a problem getting those prices. Business was terrific. Weekends were sellouts for every show. Weekdays (Mon-Thurs) saw crowds of 50-60% matinee and 70-80% evenings. Except when it rained during the summer.
One of the city manager’s duties (he was manager of the Mayfair)was to get up in the morning and get the weather report for the day. If it was raining, or even threatening rain, he would call the managers of the other theatres, (there were 5 total at the time)and tell them we were going into rain day mode. The regular commercial houses would run continuously from 9am until a last show around midnight.
These were the Mayfair, Lyric and Baronet. The road show houses, the St. James and Paramount, would run shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm and 11pm if warranted. Nice day schedule was 2pm and 8pm daily.
On rain days the theatres operated in controlled chaos. Lines never stopped. People would wait three hours in the rain for the next show. Money would be removed from the boxoffices in waste baskets and taken to the office where it was stuffed uncounted into bank bags and taken to the night depository under guard. The cash wouldn’t be reconciled to the ticket sales until the next day.
The staff in the commercial houses wore typical uniforms for the day. The manager wore a business suit. But in the hard ticket houses the ushers, doormen and the manager wore tuxedos. The items in the concession stands in the hard ticket houses were upscale items at high prices as opposed to the popcorn, soda, candy in the commercials. At intermission in the hard ticket houses ushers would go up and down the aisles selling orange drink just like the legit houses in New York. The hard ticket houses had a chief of staff and either he or the manager was outside “barking” the attraction and the next show. “Hurry, Hurry, Hurry…get your tickets now for the next showing of "My Fair Lady,” winner of 8 academy awards including Best Picture of the Year! Next show starts at 8 o'clock. We still have seating available in the balcony and front orchestra.“ I still remember the spiel. There I was in my tuxedo and holding a cane!
There are times I don’t believe I did that, but truth be told, I wouldn’t trade those heady, wonderful times for most of my other experiences in this business.
There’s a lot more to tell, like the sandwich men on the boardwalk, the airplanes pulling the banners along the beaches, the magnificent false fronts on the theatres, the dimming of the lights in the auditorium as the overture played and the last people found their seats, the trailers with 24-sheets plastered on their sides being hauled around Asbury and nearby towns. But, I’m afraid the people who run this web site will kick me out if I keep going. It was a great business back then, but those days are gone forever.
Showmanship in movie theatres is dead. I’m glad I retired when I did.

VincentParisi on July 18, 2006 at 11:53 am

I was a child vacationing with my family in Ocean Grove in the summer of ‘65. To me the place was a paradise. I remember walking by the St James and Paramount and seeing the photos of SOM and My Fair Lady. Remember seeing Walt Disney’s Cinderella at the Mayfair and going to a nearby drive in to see Lord Jim.
I also remember the Swan boat in a small artificial lake by the Mayfair.
Only wish these theaters had survived so I could have seen them as an adult.
Did the St James and the Paramount do well as roadshow houses during this period? Did the middle and lower class families pay hardticket prices for these films? Any memories you have of this time period would be greatly appreciated. Also do you know if SOM and MFL played in Asbury in 70mm or were they 35mm stereo prints?

MikeH on July 18, 2006 at 11:24 am

I may have my towns and theatres mixed up but somewhere I thought I heard that the Paramount had a bad fire. I think it was closed at the time. Does anyone else remember this or is my memory playing tricks on me?

njmoviefan on July 18, 2006 at 10:33 am

Word on the street is that the Baronet is re-opening this coming Friday (7/21). Films showing (not a double feature) are “Poseidon” and “The Notorious Bettie Page” at alternate times. Admission price is supposed to be $2 for all shows and the theatre will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I’ll post more if I come across other info.

Luis Vazquez
Luis Vazquez on July 3, 2006 at 6:29 am

I just came back from my first visit to Asbury Park and came across this theater. It still looks like nothing is going on though it does not look abandoned. Why doesn’t any structure in this town have any plaques or info on the histories of these buildings. There appears to be a lot of lost history in Asbury Park and not a lot of action to share it with visitors. If this theater has been renovated or it is in progress, at a minimum, there should be a notice on the box office saying what’s going on and what they expect to play there in the future. It was even more frustrating to stand outside of the Paramount Theater (just down the block from the Baronet) and wonder if this place is abandoend or not? Sadly, it looks like it is. The outside is a beautiful seaside fantasy and I would love to see the inside. There is nothing on the outside to tell us. We’ve been hearing for 10 years about the rebirth of Asbury Park, but I think it will be many many more years before we see any real progress. The new condos are souless and dull and it seems virtually all of the historic buildings are just rotting away! It is those histoirc buildings that would make Asbury worth visiting. Once they are gone, there will be no reason to go there!

asburybaronet on April 26, 2006 at 2:19 am

A few corrections. As I understand it, when Mr. Reade bought the then Ocean Theater in Asbury Park, he was the owner of the NYC Baronet Theater. He hated the marquee at the NYC Baronet, moved it to Asbury Park, and the Ocean became the Baronet. It is kind of obvious when you look at the Baronet Sign above the marquee at The Baronet.
Secondly, nobody uses the Baronet or the Fast Lane for after anything parties because both places are closed. The Baronet will be re-opening in May, with The Fast Lane soon to follow. The 3rd building is The Asbury Lanes and walking into The Lanes in like walking into a great Film Noir classic. Worth the trip to see it.

Greenpoint on April 25, 2006 at 1:03 pm

“The Fast Lane nightclub next door…"seems to be a bowling alley, last week after the after-party (please forgive the word-redundancy) it appeared that they were projecting a movie above the lanes.

Greenpoint on April 25, 2006 at 12:58 pm

Word on the street:A certain musician uses this place for After-party’s anytime concerts are played up the block at the Asbury Park Covention Hall.

asburybaronet on April 7, 2006 at 2:47 am


Baronet Theatre revival expected by summer
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 04/6/06

The 93-year-old Baronet Theatre in Asbury Park could light back up before the summer with films, cabaret and live theater, according to its latest owners.

The plan is to restore the theater and the Fast Lane nightclub next door as the centerpiece of a vibrant Fourth Avenue entertainment district in Asbury Park, and the owners say they are feeling the local support.

Asbury Park real-estate developer Pat Fasano and partner Dennis Dubrow, Oceanport, bought the properties in December for $1.2 million, Dubrow said.

Fasano, who lives in New Brunswick, also owns the Wonder Bar at Fifth and Ocean avenues, and several shops on Cookman Avenue, Fasano said.

Being one block from the boardwalk, though, the theater and the defunct nightclub next door are in an oceanfront redevelopment zone, so their future depends on Asbury Partners, developers of the area, and city officials.

Dubrow said he and Fasano were not encouraged by an initial meeting they had with Larry Fishman, chief operating officer of Asbury Partners. Fishman could not be reached for comment.

Undaunted, the partners have received building permits and plan to spend up to $100,000 to fix up the buildings.

Renovation work began March 23.

The partners hope to unveil the theater, with historic architectural features intact, by summer.

“We’ve contracted with Days Awake, a local band, to play for our opening night fund-raiser,” Dubrow said.

“We didn’t want to invest more than $100,000 until we have a certificate of occupancy,” Dubrow said.

The work includes replacing walls and ceilings, washing all 500 seats and installing new carpet, he said. Fire exits and the roof are being fixed, and the heating and air-conditioning units improved.

“This is a masonry building, so it’s in good shape,” he said.

The stage still has the proscenium arch, and the projection room still houses refurbished 35mm film projectors.

The plan is for the Baronet and Fast Lane to become venues different from what they were in the 1970s, Dubrow said.

Fast Lane was originally the warehouse for the Steinbach Co. But a half-filled bottle of Southern Comfort on the bar last week was a reminder of the days when touring bands “got their start there,” Dubrow said.

“Such outfits as the Ramones, Patti Smith and Jon Bon Jovi and Wild Hearts played there,” Dubrow said.

Fast Lane is in good structural shape, too, he said.

“But, the interior will be gutted entirely,” Dubrow said.

“We plan to make Fast Lane a night club/concert hall. (We) have a contract with Concert East to bring in the talent,” Dubrow said. “They own the Starland ballroom in Sayreville and are the No. 1 concert promoter on the East Coast.”

Fasano intends to bring a mixture of theater, film, cabaret and seminars to the Baronet.

“Our goal is to embrace the youth of this area and give them a venue to express themselves,” he said.

“Our larger goal is to create a new arts district on Fourth Avenue,” Dubrow said.

Looking around the immediate area, Fasano remarked, “This isn’t redevelopment. It’s undevelopment.

“I’m trying to prevent another Long Branch,” he said. “I’m trying to save what we have. We don’t need eminent domain here.”

“This is the last of the Walter Reade theaters, and we want to save it,” Fasano said.

The Baronet opened as a vaudeville house called the Ocean Theatre in 1913. The Walter Reade chain bought it in 1953.

In the 1960s, it was the city’s art-film house, but by the 1970s, popularity ebbed and it ceased operating by the end of the decade.

Eventually, Walter Burns and Maurice Giberson of New York bought it and tried to restore the Baronet, from 1986 to 1991, but their applications for certificates of occupancy were denied. So, they sold it to Fasano and Dubrow.

Dubrow said the city’s reasons for denying Burns and Giberson COs were “ridiculous.”

“The applicants had painted the theater red, which the city said was "a color reserved for firehouses.‘ They also had windows in the theater, and the city said they could not have windows inside. When we bought it, we cemented over the windows.”

Dubrow would not predict whether they will get a CO, but the owners claim support from several areas.

“There isn’t anyone in city hall, from the mayor on down, who has told me they do not support what we are doing,” Fasano said.

Tom Morrissey Productions, New York, is interested in forming a theater group outside of New York and bringing it to the Baronet. New York is “highly competitive and very expensive,” Morrissey said.

“We did research on abandoned theaters and came to Asbury Park several times,” he said.

Morrissey said a theater company would mean jobs for local people and more business for restaurants, shops and hotels.

“The National Endowment for the Arts says for every dollar spent to produce shows, $20 is spent in the community,” he said.

“Our next step is to get community support,” Morrissey said. “We will form a nonprofit corporation and a board of directors. We are looking for people who would like to join us either by being a board member or helping as a volunteer.”

Support also comes from Arts- CAP, a recently formed local cultural group.

Pam Lamberton, a member of the group’s board of directors, said the organization “strongly supports” what Fasano and Dubrow are doing and would be interested in putting on shows at the Baronet.

Dubrow said he has contacted Center Players, a Freehold troupe that staged a production in which his children recently had roles, and was encouraged.

“There’s a possibility Center Players could put on plays at the Baronet,” he said.

For more information or to arrange a tour of the Baronet and Fast Lane, call Dubrow at (732) 996-6843.

asburybaronet on April 4, 2006 at 12:39 pm


The Baronet Theater, on 4th Avenue in Asbury Park, NJ, one block from the boardwalk, has been given a new lease on life by two area developers hoping to make the art deco gem the centerpiece of a vibrant new downtown arts and entertainment complex.

Opened in 1913 as a vaudeville house, the Baronet was originally called the Ocean Theatre. It was bought and renovated in 1953 by Walter Reade theater chain. In the 1960s, it enjoyed a reputation as the town’s “art film” house, but by the 70s the Baronet was showing films of a somewhat shadier nature. By the end of the decade, it was pretty much out of business.

Asbury Park real estate developer Pat Fasano recently purchased the Baronet, along with the adjacent Fast Lane, a 2700-seat club and concert venue with a stellar past and, Fasano hopes, an equally promising future. The Baronet’s auditorium seats over 500, has a stage with a proscenium arch and still retains the recently refurbished 35 mm film projectors. Fasano intends to bring a mixture of theater, film and cabaret programming to the theater this summer. He has already put several hundred thousand dollars of repairs and improvements into the building, including a new roof, and refitted heating and air conditioning systems. Further improvements include new fire doors as well as improvements to the backstage area. Efforts to secure financial support for the season’s programming are already underway.

Together, Fasano hopes that the Baronet and the Fast Lane will become the anchor for a new arts and entertainment district along 4th ave to the boardwalk, helping to bring downtown Asbury Park alive again as a premiere shore destination.

teecee on March 24, 2006 at 4:21 pm

Walter Reade bought this theater in the 1950s from the theater chain of Lee Newberry of Interlaken, NJ.

teecee on July 4, 2005 at 4:35 am

The Star Ledger
Farewell to Asbury Park … again
Sunday, July 03, 2005

“By the 1970s, nearby malls had all but suffocated Asbury’s once- thriving business district, leaving the town almost strictly an entertainment destination. Into the mid- ‘70s there were still six operating movie theaters in Asbury Park — 1920s-era movie palaces such as the Mayfair and the Paramount, and smaller venues like The St. James, the Lyric, the Savoy and the Baronet. With the rise of the multiplexes, these too soon vanished. The Lyric was the only one to survive, eventually rechristened the Park, an adults-only grindhouse adjoining Palace Amusements that proudly advertised "matinees daily.” The Park itself came down last year, along with the Palace."

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 11, 2005 at 8:03 pm

Still closed, as far as I could tell from seeing it this weekend.

MikeH on June 9, 2005 at 3:30 pm

I don’t have much to add about the Baronet. I was assistant City manager of Reade theatres in Asbury Park in 1965 or 1966. The Baronet was the “art” house. The summer I was there the St. James played My Fair Lady all summer long, the Paramount played Sound of Music all summer and the Baronet played two pictures, Pawnbroker and Zorba the Greek. The Mayfair and the Lyric were the straight commercial houses. Back then all of these theatres did really well.

coffeeboy2 on February 1, 2005 at 8:30 am

Someone please save this treasure. If the Asbury Park powers to be truely want to revitialize this Historic seaside town, stop tearing down the past, and restore what really matters in this town. Buildings like this, the carousel, Tillie, and many other historic buildings are what made Asbury Park Great. Remove this factor, and you have nothing left to “Bring Back”. The big “Developers” don’t care about Asbury Park, only their pockets.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 20, 2004 at 5:20 pm

I passed by this weekend and this house looks closed. Except that the paint job in front, in an Egyptian style, seems in pristine condition and there is no graffiti on the building.