Fox Kew Gardens Theatre
118-01 Queens Boulevard,
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The Kew Gardens was built by the Small-Strausberg Circuit (S & S Circuit), which was taken over by William Fox while the 1,287-seat theatre was still under construction. As the Fox Kew Gardens, it had its grand opening on September 14, 1929, with the Fox Movietone feature, “Lucky Star”, plus assorted “all-talking” short subjects. Programs changed three times a week and were subsequent run to the well-established Fox Forest Hills, which was about a half-mile west of the Kew Gardens and its nearest competition.
The Kew Gardens Theatre was the first theatre ever built on the north side of Queens Boulevard, and was a block away from its intersection with Union Turnpike. Unfortunately, the neighborhood was still developing and under-populated, so the Kew Gardens was virtually dead-on-arrival when Wall Street crashed only a month later. In December, Fox closed the theatre and decided to convert it to miniature golf, which was all the rage at the time. All the seats were removed, with the ground floor used for an 18-hole “Tom Thumb” golf course. The former balcony was divided into a spectator section and an area for ping pong and billiard tables. As the Kew Gardens Indoor Golf Course, it re-opened on August 18, 1930. For 50 cents, patrons could play one full round, with equipment and instructors provided by the management. Tickets for unlimited play were $2 weekly or $6 for a month.
The deepening financial crisis seemed to keep players away, so Fox soon closed the premises. The circuit was going through a bankruptcy crisis of its own. The Kew Gardens Theatre remained padlocked until being assigned to the Skouras Theaters Corp. circuit, which was formed to run all the former Fox theatres in Queens.
Skouras, however, had no interest in re-converting the Kew Gardens Theatre into a theatre, so it just sat there vacant until the late-1950’s, when it was finally sold for demolition and replacement by an office building.
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