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The Cameo had ceased operation by 1952, and was converted to commercial space.
I think Marcel’s location of an Imperial Theatre on Route 9 at Wappinger’s Falls is correct,(and which the ad that Mike Rogers has seen was from that time) but I believe that that one was opened close to 50 years after the one on Colden Street in Newburgh which existed back in the 1910-1920 era.
The “original” Imperial Theater in Newburgh was opened in about 1912 at number 13 Colden Street and featured a projection screen material that could show movies clearly under daylight conditions, indoors or out. A man named Genter had invented this material and also manufactured it in a shop on Colden Street. Genter and a business partner also opened another Newburgh theater at thew corner of Broadway and Johnston Street, but it soon failed. The original Newburgh Imperial theater had closed by 1920.
I just noticed that the Academy is listed here as being “closed”. More properly, it should be listed as “demolished”, since I know for a fact that as far back as 2001 and probably well before that, its site has been was a parking lot on the NW corner of Grand Street at Broadway.
The Imperial Theater photo (from Mike Rogers) in Wappingers Falls on Route 9 is across the Hudson River from Newburgh and appears to have opened at least 90 years after the Imperial/Bon Ton on Colden Street in Newburgh, FYI…
By May, 1920, according to local newspaper accounts, the Bon Ton’s original owner, Jake Genter, had passed away. George Cohen then bought the Genter estate’s interest in the Mirroroide projection screen masterial business, whose customer base had withered during World War One. Presumably, the Bon Ton Theater was included in the purchase.Whether or not Cohan ever reopened it is not known at the present time.o
Actually, the Star Theater was established by George Cohen even before he built Cohen’s Opera House on Broadway in 1912-1913.
Mike – Without having seen the ad you mention, and if it references a location on “Route 9”, that could have been on “Route 9-W”, which is called Robinson Avenue in Newburgh. However, my own guess is that it was located by 1920 on the site of the by-then defunct Bob Ton Theater on Colden Street in Newburgh. OR, it could have evolved into what later was named the Park Theater, which was located only two doors west of Robinson. ????
The Bon Ton was originally conceived and first opened in 1912-1913 as the Imperial Theater, but its name was changed almost immediately. Its owner/operator was a local inventor named Jacob Genter, who had developed a reflective screen fabric material called “Mirroroide”, on which moving picture images which (he claimed) could be seen clearly under daylight or fully illuminated theater conditions.
The conceit for this theater was based on the likelihood that patrons would enjoy watching films in a brightly-lit environment, under “safe” and “sanitary” conditions. Newspaper advertising records show that he promoted the theater up until the summer of 1913, when it was “closed for the season”, but I can’t find evidence that it ever re-opened. His “Mirroroide” material was manufactured locally, and evidently sold well at first in overseas indoor and outdoor environments. It is possible that local theater entrepeneur (Cohen’s Opera House, the Star Theater) George Cohen acquired this Colden Street property and by 1920 had reopened it as the Royal Theater.
Colden Street north of Broadway was a long single block that ended at First Street in Newburgh, at a small triangular park called Clinton Square. That complete neighborhood was demolished in the late 60’s – early 70’s and the street no longer exists per se.
I’ve never seen a photo of the Bob Ton, nor do I know whether it was on the east side or west side of the street. I’ll see if I can locate one.
Done. That street was named for one of the pioneer families who settled in that area back in the 1700’s. In fact, there’s a little hamlet named Coldenham just west of Newburgh near Stewart AFB that carries the name forward in time.
No, that’s not the Bon Ton. In fact, it’s not, or ever was to my knowledge, a theater. It is the old Armory on the southeast corner of Broadway and Johnston Streets in Newburgh. The building still stands there only a few doors west of where the Broadway Theater once stood. I think that the marquee on the building probably was used to advertise basketball games and other events that were held there occasionally.
Bob Jensen…I would if I could figure out how to edit my original input. And by the way, from the ads in the papers from back then, it was a full-fledged first-run movie theater and not a nickeloden as I had first speculated.
Just confirmed: it opened in April 1912 on Colden Street.
Ray…up until late 1949, when my Dad was transferred to Delaware by the Fabby, I also was a fairly regular attendee at those interminable but enjoyable Saturday Matinees at the Academy, but I DO remember seeing a FEW black kids in attendance. But it was then in no way, shape or form, a “Negro Theater” then, either. It was just a theater. I failed to mention earlier that the Alsdorf’s were a ‘black’ family that had been in Orange County since the early 1700’s, and that the last surviving member of the family that I remember seeing was a very old man, and was a still a respected member of the Newburgh business community.
Mr. Treitano – It may have been Levine in your day, but it was definitely Sonny Levy in my day (back in the late 1940’s), Ray Boyea was the manager of the Broadway and the Cameo, and Lester Scott ran the Academy back then. You say you’ve played in many restored ‘palaces’ around the country…just what was it you played? Did you graduate from NFA? What year?
The Park Theater I remember was only opened for a brief time in the 1940’s, after a fire severely damaged the Broadway Theater further down on Broadway (in 1943). When the Broadway was cleaned up, refurbished and reopened, the Park closed down again. I remember that “Yankee Doodle Dandy” had its premiere at the Park, where I saw it for the first time. A few of us oldtimers remember the Strand, down on Liberty Street South of Broadway, but I think that it must have closed down before I was old enough to see anything there.
Ray – Actually, before the late 1950’s, there were two small concentrations of “Blacks” living in Newburgh. On the North Side, along both sides of Smith Street from First to South Streets, and on the South side, an even smaller concentration living on Ann and maybe Washington Streets, just West of Liberty Street, near a church with a Black congregation.
In Newburgh, I lived in the Colonial Terraces in the Northwest Quadrant, and was at West Street School from 1939 until 1946. During all the time I was there, there was not ONE Black student there. Not until I got to NJHS were there any Black kids enrolled.
One of the leading families in Newburgh as far back as the turn of the 20th Century (before even MY time) were the Alsdorfs, who operated a dance academy down on Liberty Street for many years.
The 1940’s Cameo was the second-rate second-run, low-ticket-price theatre in Newburgh, trailing behind the Academy. At some point, it was operated by the same people who ran the Broadway Theater just up the block, and Ray Boyea was the manager of both for some time back then. Of all of the four movie theatres in Newburgh back then, I frequented the Cameo the fewest number of times. They also ran Western Horse Operas, most of which were relased by either Monogram, Columbia or PRC, rather than by Republic. Johnny Mack Brown and Charles Starrett (The Durango Kid) flicks always showed up at the Cameo. I do recall seeing a terrific double feature there in the late 1940’s: “San Francisco”, with Gable, Tracy and Jeanette McDonald, coupled with “Green Dolphin Street.” I think I also saw Ronald Reagan’s “King’s Row” there.
It must have been after the 1950’s, when the African-American population of Newburgh greatly surged, that the Academy became known in Show Biz as a “Negro Theater.” In the 1940’s, the Academy flourished as a second run house (along with the Cameo) with a low admission fee, and Dish and Banko Nights during the midweek. All races were welcome then, and all races attended the theatre. Their Saturday Afternoon kids' matinees were very popular, with double features usually consisting of a Republic or Monogram western Oater, a comedy (more often than not, a Laurel and Hardy or a Judy Canova feature), a Republic Serial, several cartoons, a newsreel and a long preview of coming attractions. These often ran to 5 hours long. Several years later, and before it closed up, Lester Scott, the Manager, took a dive from atop the Grand Street fire escape. I have very fond memories of the Academy in the late 1940’s. It was a great house…seedy, yes, by then, but still great.
Another fire on Broadway damaged the Broadway Theater back in 1943, I think it was. The fire started in an adjacent bowling alley, I believe. The theater was closed for about a year, and the Park Theater, on Upper Broadway, near Robinson Avenue, which had been inactive for several years, was cleaned up and reopened. I remember going to see “Yankee Doodle Dandy” there, for the first time. Since then, I’ve seen it probably close to 100 times. Corny as it is, I love that movie!!!!!
The manager of the Ritz back in the 1940’s and early 1950’s was Allen “Sonny” Levy, a good man and a Newburgh native. The Ritz is featured in an article in the May 7, 2006 issue of PARADE, the newspaper Sunday supplement magazine, FYI