193 Avenue B,
193 Avenue B,New York, NY 10009
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I went here once in the late 1960s for “Carmen Baby.”
I’d be interested in pictures of the theater as I’m writing a book on the repertory movie houses, including the Charles, that existed from 1960 to 1994. I can be reached at . Thanks.
is this the place where they used to have balls, a la Paris Is Burning?
Oh no, that is so sad. It was beautiful. This is the place where I saw a copy of the Zapruder film in November 1964. Anyone else?
I recently photographed the Charles Theatre
Take a look here.
Here’s a glimpse at the interior.
Does anyone recall seeing the Wolper documentary “1000 Days” about the Kennedy administration (b+w) followed by a screening of a copy of the Zapruder film in late November/early December 1964?
Is anyone aware of any other early screenings of the Zapruder film, which was not released to the general public until the mid-70’s?
There’s a nice article by Charles L. Mee, Jr. on the Charles in the November 1962 issue of Horizon magazine: “WHERE TALENT IS TRIED AND TESTED, At the Charles Theatre in New York the art of film has found a smoky and uproarious arena for self-criticism.”
Reverend Carlos Torres is working to restore the theater:
The theater also ran jazz matinees on Sunday afternoons in the early 60s. I remember seeing Jerome Richardson and Les Spann playing flute duets or flute and guiter duets, among other acts. It helped that the theater was diagonally across the avenue from Stanley’s, one of the earliest of the hipster bars in the far east.
A 1966 double bill
Hmmm, so the soft core porn king also owned theatres!
Here is an item from Boxoffice magazine, January 1963:
NEW YORK-Audubon Films has expanded its activities to include exhibition. The company has taken over the Charles Theater in Greenwich Village and will reopen it on January 16, following redecoration and installation of new seats.
Radley H. Metzger, director of Audubon, said the theater would operate on a policy of selected foreign and American films. Opening program will consist of “The Manchurian Candidate” and “A Coming-Out Party”, followed by “Phaedra” and “Lolita”.
I looked in a few years ago between services. The interior appears largely unchanged except that it has been completely painted glossy white.
Locals expect it will be demolished since the Hispanic evangelical church ceased services a couple of years ago, perhaps in response to a violation citation from the Department of Buildings for wrongful use. But Dept. of City Planning records show that the church has not sold the property. So maybe there’s still hope for this unique landmark of New York countercultural theater history.
This is a photo I took off of Google maps. It’s possible that the building is still being used as a church, but at the time this picture was taken the building looked closed and in poor shape:
In 1952 Brandt sold the Palestine and Charles to Samuel Friedman who then sold them in 1956 to an unnamed company willing to install wide screens and air conditioning.
Charles Steiner who ran the Bijou Theater died in June 1946 (Obituary New York Times, 29 June 1946). The theater was probably renamed just after his death. One of his son-in-laws managed the theater for a few years.
A June 2006 photograph that I took of the Charles Theatre on a Sunday morning (church was open through the small doorway) although I didn’t venture inside as there was quite a bit of screaming and wailing going on! Peeking through the door into the foyer, I think the auditorium space is still intact as one room and not subdivided:
I’d love to get inside sometime – I imagine its been divided a few times, but I would be curious to see if anything survives of the movie setup. If that church is still in there perhaps I’ll tryto get in on a Sunday morning!
The site today
Also, the theatre was still known as the Bijou as of June, 1946.
According to its original Certificate of Occupancy, the building had seating for 502 on the first floor and 98 in the balcony for a nice, round total of 600.
Announcement of the theatreâ€™s construction, along with those of three other Lower East Side locations, was made in November 1925.
It was one of 12 Manhattan facilities being operated by the Bell Theatre Company in 1937.
By the time of his death in 1946, this, along with the Palestine, was one of two theatres being operated by exhibitor Charles Steiner, whoâ€™d begun exhibiting films in 1906 and had earlier run a large circuit of Lower East Side and Harlem locations.
Dan Talbotâ€™s programming of the theatre began in September 1960.
I re-call it being rather small, hard to beleive it once had 600 seats – perhaps some areas were closed; don’t re-call folding chairs but suppose its possible.
I do remember “Boys in the Band” playing there and some of my more conservative Stuyvesant Town neighbors not too happy about it!
I was talking to some folks who work in a restaurant right across the street from the building last month and they never see anyone coming in or out, so who knows what it looks like today.
Boys in the Band played there in ‘69. There was talk of it having folding chairs in some part of the theater. I grew up down there but never went in.