Garden Theater

742 Manhattan Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11222

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The Garden Theater was located in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. This theater opened around 1906 with the owners names listed as Warren & Sweeney. The Garden Theater appears to be a silent-era theater that closed its doors in 1929.

Contributed by CJDV & Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

cjdv on April 17, 2005 at 2:37 pm

The Garden was an early movie house opening circa 1906 at 742 Manhattan Avenue (sometimes given as 742-748). It is listed under the names Warren & Sweeney (owners) in Trows for 1912. I can’t find it in the 1914/15 Motion Picture Directory. In the Brooklyn Citizen, October 22nd, 1916, there is a large display ad for “Death Valley Dodge on Its Thilling Desert and Mountain Drives” with seven Brooklyn theatres listed as showing the film that week. The Garden is one of them. At the bottom of the ad it is stated “These Theatres are members of the Associated Motion Picture Exhibitors of Brooklyn”.
The Garden also appears in the theatre listings for the Standard Union newspaper, November 12, 1922. P. Rosenson is listed as manager.
It is listed in the 1926 FDYB (seating 600). It is also listed in 1929 which appears to be its final year of operation.
Many early movie houses closed in the 1910s and early 20s as larger more ornate theatres opened. Many of those that survived closed in 1929 with the upgrading to talkies and the depression. A few lucky ones lingered on in the neighborhood becoming affectionately known as “the itch” or “the dump”.

cjdv on April 19, 2005 at 3:12 pm

When the Meserole opened in 1920, there were already several other theatres operating along Manhattan Ave.:
New Liberty (later named the Clinton) 152-154 Manhattan
Metropolitan 168 Manhattan
Garden listed here
Greenpoint 823-825 Manhattan
American (later named the Chopin) 910 Manhattan
Manhattan Theatre (later named Midway) 1059 Manhattan

The Garden would have been the oldest—at least there was a theatre on that site since circa 1906. Not listed above are several early movie houses that opened and closed before 1920. The Garden outlasted these.

johndereszewski on March 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

Among the occupants of the old Garden Theater, by far the most important name is Gerkie. It was this family that converted this property into a bar/catering hall upon the demise of the movie house. I do not know if they also managed the theater or merely converted it, but it is possible. The Gerkie’s – particularly Gus Gerkie – were very sharp business people who at one time owned much of this block. Given the probable inferiority of the Garden vis-a-vis the Meserole – which was situated almost directly across the street – and the capital investment needed to convert it for sound, the demise of the Garden at this time made eminent bottom line sense. And the Gerkie’s were the ultimate bottom liners.

As a bar and catering hall, Gerkie was a very successful enterprise for many years. The bar was situated on a portion of the first floor with the catering hall occupying the second floor. The rest of the first floor was converted into stores and offices. Gerkie’s served – I am told – excellent German fare.

By the 1960’s, the catering hall had been eclipsed by more modern enterprises like Rovnacks (at the old Nassau Movie site) and the Polonaise Terrace. But the bar continued to flourish. Just before his death, Gus initiated an extensive renovation to modernize the hall. But he died before it was completed snd a very nasty dispute regarding the ownership of the Gerkie estate then ensued. This prevented the new hall from opening for many years.

By the late 1990’s the property was sold and the bar closed; it is now retail space. The hall ultimately became an Indian Restaurant.

On a personal note, my father grew up with Gus Gerkie and I served with him for several years as a member of Brooklyn Community Board 1. Ironically, the last time we met was one evening when he and his wife were leaving the Chopin Movie Theater and I was entering.

johndereszewski on March 23, 2009 at 8:19 am

Warren, this is very interesting. The location of the marquee would appear to conform to that of the old theater, which was situated closer to Meserole Ave than was the Meserole Theatre.

The date of the photo – 1931 – creates a problem since, as noted above, the Garden met its cinematic demise in 1929. A possible explanation could be that Gerke (the correct spelling incidently) may have retained the marquee for a time to advertise the catering hall after the Garden closed. As witnessed by the Richmond Hill Keith, this is not an unusual practice.

jflundy on January 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

View link

Link to photo being sold on Ebay of Garden in 1928.

johndereszewski on February 3, 2011 at 2:28 am

I don’t think JF’s link went through. Hope mine does.

This picture not only shows the old Garden’s awning but also addresses an item noted by Warren in his 5/23/09 comment. What had seemed to be a vertical theater marquee on the enlarged photo referenced in that comment – which unfortunately has been lost – actually advertised a bank, which was situated just south of the Garden.

View link

johndereszewski on February 3, 2011 at 2:33 am

Here is the full e-bay sales ad that JF recently posted on the Phillip’s Lyceum page. This contains many pictures of 1928 Manhattan Avenue, including at least two that depict the Garden Theatre.

This is a real treasure trove that should really be savored.

Thanks JF!

View link

jflundy on February 10, 2011 at 11:36 am

John, if you run an ebay search for “ Brooklyn Trolleys” you will get a return for about six pages of photos for sale. In addition to the main group which you link above, you will find more Greenpoint photos mixed in among other trolley photos on those 6 pages.

johndereszewski on February 26, 2023 at 4:33 pm

The picture that was posted, “The Wheels of Destiny” was released in October 1927. This would be the year before the Garden closed for good. The picture provides a great look of how Manhattan Avenue looked at that time.

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