Roscoe Theater

Stewart Avenue,
Roscoe, NY 12776

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Harden Theaters Inc.

Styles: Rustic

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Operated for several years by Kutcher & Bogner of Montecello, it was taken over by the Harden Theaters Inc. chain in July 1944.

Harden Theatres Inc. operated the Roscoe Theatre into the early-1960’s. The Rustic style theatre became a Chinese restaurant in recent years one of a number of small businesses that tried to open on the ground floor level, but none lasted. The building was finally condemned and demolished in early 2005.

Contributed by Chris Buchner

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

WOLVERINE25TH on July 19, 2005 at 10:00 am

My information probably wasn’t accurate since never going inside I had to rely on local tales from summer vacations past. Forgot about their attempt to reopen it, remember I was excited about having something to do up there for a change.

BoxOfficeBill on July 19, 2005 at 11:14 am

Who could ever forget the Roscoe. It indeed looked like an old barn, on both the outside and the inside. I remember it in the early pre-CinemaScope 1950s when it received product a week later than the two theaters in nearby Livingston Manor (named appropriately the Livingston and the Manor). The latter received theirs from the two theaters in Monticello, which received theirs from the two theaters in Liberty. And so Hollywood passed through greater Sullivan County, which no doubt received its films after they had passed through greater Broome County with the metropolitan centers of Binghamton, Vestal, and Johnson City that drew more important crowds. Whatever their route, the films were seriously out of date when they arrived in summery Roscoe. Brooklynites had already seen them the preceding winter.

The only film I ever saw in the Roscoe was “Kansas Raiders,” with Audie Murphy playing Jesse James during his apprenticeship with Quantrill’s Raiders. My folks and I hated Westerns, but that film passed the time one sultry July or August night in ‘51. According to the NY Times Directory, it had opened at the RKO Palace on January 26 of that year. We were lucky to have caught it at the Roscoe. The theaters further up on the food chain played their attractions for an entire week; the one and only screen in Roscoe alternated its fare every three or four days.

Years passed, and I’m not sure that the lake near Roscoe where we stayed at a bungalow colony for a week in ‘51 even exists any more. —Lake Muskaday, do you hear me? You were once a man-made lake, a product of engineering marvels and WPA work in the mid-twentieth-century, but you might have dried up even as other products of the New Deal threaten to dry up before our very eyes.— Yet, from where I now live, Roscoe lies mid-way en route to NYC, and the fabulous Roscoe Diner is one helluva road-stop in-between.

When we first started patronizing that Diner in 1970, the Roscoe Theater was still very much in operation—even in winter (thereby answering my childish question, “Does the Roscoe close down when the vacationers go away?”)—and still defiantly showing six-months-old movies. So it did after all make the transition to CinemaScope (thereby answering my adult question, “Did theaters like that survive?”)—though I had to wonder how the management ever fit a larger screen into that barn-like space. And, yes, my credibility received further strain in the 1980s when the theater was twinned: how they succeeded in doing it, I’ll never know. And, yes, I felt sad one wintery day a few years ago when we exited Route 17 at the Roscoe Diner and found the theater demolished. For me, Roscoe had always meant the Roscoe Theater first and foremost, and only after that did it mean the Roscoe Dinner.

BoxOfficeBill on July 19, 2005 at 11:40 am

That’s “Diner,” not “Dinner.” And I felt sad when I first saw the Roscoe closed, not demolished. The wrecking ball evidently swung in the more recent past.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 4, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I’m wondering if this is the theater where I saw “The Blues Brothers” for the 2nd or 3rd time in the late summer or early fall of 1980. I was up from NYC with my friend Matthew and his Dad visiting their 2nd home in Walton, NY, and I remember taking a long drive to another small town in order to see the movie. It was either a Friday or Saturday night and I recall going to a local pizza place on the small commercial strip just down the block from the theater. I also remember being surprised at seeing so many people dressed up for dinner in the very informal restaurant. It never occured to me that what might be considered a casual fast-food establishment in NYC would represent a place to get dolled up for couples on a Friday night dinner date or families taking a rare respite from the home kitchen and dining room table. There was a certain charm in that notion that almost seemed from an older and more innocent time.

Still… I really have no idea if it was the Roscoe Theatre, but I was poking around a map of upstate NY and the town of Roscoe jumped out at me and jogged some part of my mind. I guess there’s no real way to verify, but I’m leaning heavily towards this being the right place! Anyone remember a pizza-place/Italian Restaurant on the strip near the theater?

jjcrawford on February 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Just wondering if anyone knows if there were apartments located in the Roscoe Theater in the 1930’s. I have a relative who listed as his address as “Roscoe Theater, New York” in the probate records of another family member. Any ideas?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 19, 2008 at 8:52 pm

That seems a bit small for the theatre I remember back in 1980. And someone described it as a barn earlier on the page – which might imply a larger space. But, alas, I’m only guessing that this might have been the upstate theatre where I saw “The Blues Brothers” so don’t rely on my recollections.

BigSwede on February 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm

It was a small place. 146 seems about right. I saw a few movies back in the 60s and 70s, but I can’t remember a one.
Our family used to have one of the original cabins on Lake Muskaday until we sold it in the 90s. Nobody had the time. I kick myself now. It was built, probably back the 30s or so by one of our relatives, “Daddy” Frank Murch, along with at least one of his friends. They also dammed up the springs and built the lake. I never met the man but did get my middle name from him. We spent many a summer up there with his wife Mildred. She was a blast. We still laugh heartily as we imitate her yelling out the car window to the old Jewish ladies to “Get out of the road” as they walked down the middle of the road up by Lake Tennannah. Anyway, they tore down that cabin and sold the land to the neighbors. It was listing terribly and was probably beyond hope.
Down in town, one end of that strip, closer to the river, was the grocery store. If memory serves me, the Italian restaurant was at the other end, and the theater somewhere in between but on the opposite side. It isn’t a very long strip. The town has been hit hard with flood waters the past few years as has much of that area. Folks have been washed away, literally.

BigSwede on February 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Ha ! That pizza place is where I thought it was and it’s for sale.

BigSwede on April 11, 2009 at 7:21 am

Been thinking about it and I seem to recall seeing either, THE GNOME MOBILE or DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE or both. I know there were others.

adamghost on June 16, 2015 at 11:55 pm

Here’s a photo. Believe it or not, this is what it looked like.

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