Rosedale Theatre

1791 Westchester Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10472

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Brandt Theaters

Firms: Meisner & Uffner

Functions: Church, Retail

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Rosedale Theatre

Another of the scores of neighborhood houses that once filled the Bronx. The Rosedale Theatre was located at St. Lawrence Avenue and Westchester Avenue, and opened in late-1926. It was independently operated and later operated by Brandt Theatres chain, which carried on through into the 1950’s.

In 2011, the front entrance on Westchester Avenue was a Dunkin' Donuts store, while the auditorium block on St. Lawrence Avenue has a new entrance punched into the wall and serves as the Living World Christian Church.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm

All four corners of Westchester and Rosedale Avenues have modern buildings on them, all of them set back from the streets. The Rosedale Theatre must have been demolished.

Does anyone know if there was ever a theater at Westchester and St. Lawrence? The January 31, 1926, issue of The Film Daily ran an item about a proposed house at that location, but perhaps it remained built:

“Theater at Westchester and St. Lawrence Ave.; owner, A. F. & 0. Realty Corp., 1300 Rosedale Ave.; architect, Meisner & Uffner, 563 Tremont Ave.; to cost $100,000, and seat 1,400.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 1, 2012 at 11:14 pm

The street view is off by several blocks to the east. The address must be incorrect, since 1800 Westchester Ave is at the SE corner of the intersection with Beach Ave.

And, Joe… not exactly on the corner, but midway between St Lawrence and Beach Avenues, there is a Dunkin Donuts at 1791 Westchester Avenue (on the north side of the block). If you do a satellite view looking down on the block, you can see that the Dunkin Donuts storefront runs back in a narrow rectangle and appears to connect to a structure that I’m convinced is an old theater building, which then runs to the right, backing up to Beach Ave. A street view down Beach shows what I assume was the back wall of that theater, which now houses a furniture store. This must be the proposed house from that 1926 issue of The Film Daily. I don’t think the theater is listed here on CT.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 2, 2012 at 6:36 am

The 1927 edition of Film Daily Weekly lists the Rosedale Theatre at St. Lawrence & Westchester Avenues (no seating capacity given, usually indicating a newly built theatre) It is not listed in the 1926 edition of F.D.Y.

I have updated the introduction and address/street view.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Ken, I did a bit of research on this particular block, since I was so convinced that the furniture store on Beach Avenue was the former theater structure, not the church on St. Lawrence. NYC Department of Building online records would seem to support my suspicions. The entire block of storefronts on Westchester Ave, plus the furniture store on Beach Ave are part of a contiguous lot, improved with a single two-story structure in 1926. The church structure dates to 1925 and is not attached to any of the storefronts on Westchester Avenue.

Unfortunately, there are no viewable certificates of occupancy for the church building (address is 1266 St Lawrence Avenue), and the oldest certificate of occupancy viewable for the Rosedale Theater’s address is an alteration permit for some of the storefronts, dated 1944. However, there is a C of O for the address 1791 Westchester Avenue, dated January 29, 1965 (my exact date of birth, as it happens), showing conversion to “Warehouse for household goods and furniture, loading berth, and store” on ground level, and “Offices and toilets, incidental to first floor” on the mezzanine level.

The name of the furniture store is “New Direct Buy Furniture” at 1785 Beach Avenue. When viewed from the corner of Beach and Westchester Avenues, not only does the elevation of the structure appear theater-like, but there is a structure on the roof of the storefronts that looks like it might have held signage, angled to catch the eye of commuters on the elevated IRT platform of the St. Lawrence Avenue train station.

momodee on September 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

My mom worked at this theatre along with her brothers and their mother in the 40’s. She started helping her mom when she was 9 years old, cleaning mirrors and whatnot. She became a cashier at 14. I am encouraging her to sign up and leave a comment to share some of her experiences and knowledge of this theatre. I spoke with her just a few minutes ago and she confirmed that the entrance to the theatre was on Westchester where the Dunkin Donuts is now, and the auditorium was on the right upon entrance. There was a bank of glass doors that opened onto Beach. She and her family would walk down Beach to this theatre and she confirms that it was NOT located on Rosedale.

bamabama on October 1, 2012 at 1:36 am

The Rosedale Theatre entrance was located on Westchester Avenue, with a rectangular entrance and lobby. The seats were to the right, and had a low wall backing them, so that you could see the movie from any point once you entered. The exits opened onto Beach Avenue. It was relatively small, about four rows of seats, with a children’s section on the left. Saturday in the 1940’s found all the neighborhood children there to see two major features, a series of cartoons, and the latest adventures of Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, and Superman.

bamabama on October 1, 2012 at 1:57 am

The last time I saw the Furniture store which took up the seating area of the former Rosedale Theatre, I was saddened to see another part of my childhood changed. My mother and three brothers all worked at the theatre. My Mom was the Children’s Matron (required a license) and was in charge of the Children’s section. Two of my brothers were ushers, the third changed the Marquee, and, when I was old enough (14), I was cashier.

Ray_Silverstein on January 7, 2016 at 1:30 am

In the mid 1950’s, when I was a high school sophomore, I was an usher at the Rosedale Theatre. I was to usher on the weekends and change the movie marquee mid-week. I was given a red vest and flashlight and was told to seat adults in the dark and control the unruly kids, of which there were many. However, this lasted for only about a week. The experience of having to climb high up on a rickety, wooden, A-frame ladder and change the letters on the marquee by myself was too much for me, so I quit.

bamabama on January 8, 2016 at 12:08 am

THE ROSEDALE was on Westchester Avenue, midway between Beach and St. Lawrence Avenues, closer to the entrance steps to the Pelham Bay line at the St. Lawrence Avenue Station. I, and my family worked there a number of years. It had nothing to do with Rosedale Avenue, which is several blocks away. I can’t identify the store which now occupies the front of the theatre, but it is not at St. Lawrence Avenue, but a couple of stores away toward Beach Avenue. You entered from Westchester Avenue, were seated to the right, facing Beach Avenue, and exited onto Beach Avenue, the doors being on either side of the movie screen. ———-A note to Ray: My oldest brother changed the marquee for a couple of years, and all my girlfriends went to watch him, telling me that he was so “cute”. I never told them he was my brother. I think you missed out, Ray. Sorry you didn’t realize the admiration that went with the job! Ha I remember that ladder!

Ray_Silverstein on January 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

I guess I did miss out by not sticking with my usher/marquee job! All I remember from that one time up on the rickety ladder was seeing passersby look up at me as I was changing the letters and moving on, while hoping they wouldn’t bump into the ladder! I do remember the low wall behind the seats that you mentioned in 2012.

In addition to working there (briefly), I did go to the Rosedale for some of my movies. I lived close to the Ward Theatre, so went there more often. I also went to the Loew’s American, Circle and RKO Castle Hill. See my comments for the other theaters except the RKO; couldn’t remember anything special about it, (maybe something will come to me later). Just click on Nearby Theaters on each theater page and scroll down.

By the way, does bamabama mean you’re Alabama-bound and a big fan? I live in Tucson, AZ now and belong to the Bronx Club of Tucson. On the 16th of this month, Steve Samtur, editor of “Back in THE BRONX” magazine will give a nostalgic retrospective of life back then via a video presentation. That’s what inspired me to look up my old Bronx movie theaters!

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