Skip to content

Loew’s Palace Theatre

October 13, 2011

View of the Loew's Palace Theatre from the balcony.

The Loew’s Palace Theatre opened as the Poli’s Palace Theatre on September 4, 1922 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb (whose work can be seen in my posts on the Newark Paramount Theatre and the RKO Keith’s Theatre) for theater mogul Sylvester Z. Poli, who also owned the nearby Palace Theatre in Waterbury, Connecticut. The 3,642 seat Loew’s Poli Theatre was the biggest movie theater in Connecticut, and remains the largest of Bridgeport’s theaters. Its sister theater which is located next to the Palace in the same building, the Majestic, opened two months later. The walls of the Palace are covered with frescoes of formal Italian gardens painted by Hans Lehman.
The lobby of the Loew’s Palace Theatre.
After years as a predominantly vaudeville and silent film theater, the Palace began showing major motion pictures after it was sold to the Loew’s theater chain in 1934. The sale brought the theater’s first name change, from Poli’s Palace to Loew’s Poli. The name change didn’t affect the theater’s popularity — in August of 1939 the Loew’s Poli and Majestic Theatres celebrated their combined ten millionth patron.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

One of the frescos that was painted on the wall of the auditorium.

  

Thirty years later the theater was renamed again as the Loew’s Palace Theatre. Due to a decline in ticket sales the Loew’s corporation sold the building in the early 1970’s. After showing adult films for a few years, the Palace closed permanently in 1975. Joy Center Ministries, Inc., who had the rights to sell or lease portions of the building at the time, intended to rent out the store fronts and turn the theater into a Christian revival center, but the project was put on hold when it was discovered that the city of Bridgeport had a $1.2 million lien on the property due to unpaid taxes.  The city took possession of the building in lieu of payment.

The balcony-level women's bathroom.

Since its closing, the interior of the Palace has been used as a set in movies, including the recent “All Good Things,” a 2010 film starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst.  The Palace Theatre is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the city of Bridgeport hopes to one day restore the theater to its former glory.

The chandelier still hangs in the Palace Theatre.

A view of the stage from the main level of the auditorium.

Ornate molding covers the theater's ceiling.

Another fresco is painted on the proscenium arch.

The upper level of the lobby area that leads to the balcony.

Another view from the balcony level of the theater.

About these ads
31 Comments leave one →
  1. photadyta permalink
    October 13, 2011 12:47 pm

    I would love to watch a movie in here. Beautiful photos.

  2. October 13, 2011 2:38 pm

    I see fascade Pipes along the sides of the auditorium. Is there any chance that the rest of the pipe organ is still in place, and even more unlikely, that it is still operable?

    • October 13, 2011 2:56 pm

      There was a Hall theater organ installed in the Palace in late 1921 prior to the opening. I don’t know if the console is still there, but even if it is I doubt it’s been played in almost 50 years. I would doubt it’s still operable.

    • John K. permalink
      March 5, 2012 5:40 pm

      Doug – Matt,

      I just happened to see your questions and comment – sorry for my being so late but – yes the console is still there but in very bad shape. I was given a tour when Joy Center Ministries had control of the property. You might be able to save the case although doubtful. The most important thing is the rest of the organ is for the most part is intact i.e. pipes, wind chest, swell box, etc. But again I’m sure not in working order however, a good organ service company and quite a bit of money could bring this instrument to working order. I’m sure a new blower would be in order, too since there is newer technology available since the instrument was installed. You would need this project to be undertaken by someone who really appreciates such a grand instrument and not inclined to destroy it like the fate of so many church pipe organs in Bridgeport. It is also impotant to note that shortly after the city of Bridgeport took control once again, they shored up the building by installing roofing material to prevent leaking so the deterioration due to outside elements was taken care of. Plus I was told some kind of climate control was installed as well. I hope this answers your question.

      John

      • Derrick permalink
        October 17, 2012 10:04 pm

        To answer your question about the pipe organ console, our church currently has a Hall Pipe organ in playable condition that was installed in the 1920’s two manual 9-rank in Bridgeport. In the late 1990’s I found out about the organ in the Palace because we were considering re-voicing our current instrument and wanted to check out a larger Hall organ. I did see the three manual console in the orchestra pit. I was not able to get up close due to poor lighting and scaffolding. I was able to gain access to the building when contractors were shoring it up to protect against the elements.

  3. Marv Wilkenfeld permalink
    October 13, 2011 3:39 pm

    Sad to see this wonderful relic from the golden age of movie theaters.
    It seems that the world of the 21st century has no sense of esthetics judging from the ticky tac shopping malls of today

  4. gregg davenport permalink
    October 13, 2011 11:58 pm

    This theatre seems to be in very good condition for having been closed as long as it has. It would be wonderful to see it restored.

  5. October 14, 2011 9:46 pm

    Palatial! Superb work!

  6. Rob permalink
    October 27, 2011 5:53 am

    What a beautiful space. It’s so sad to see it sitting there not being used. On the other hand, Thank you for documenting these spaces.

  7. Jerry permalink
    November 11, 2011 4:59 pm

    I spent my early childhood going to the Palace and the Majestic, saw many Elvis movies, Our Man Flint, Whatever Happend to Baby Jane, etc.
    I’ve always loved those theaters.

  8. Thomas Patsenka permalink
    November 17, 2011 7:21 pm

    I am fascinated by your superb photography. As a kid in the mid 1950’s I lived in East Bridgeport went to this theater and the one next to it many times over the years. I think the admission was about 25 cents for matinees. It was a great adventure to go into these theaters, at the time it was all normal and natural to have such interesting architecture. How did you gain access? Your production values are to be admired. Thank you for doing the hard work and adding to my memories. Tom

  9. Charlie T. permalink
    January 13, 2012 4:26 pm

    Ive seen a lot of abandoned theater photos over the years,but these pics top all the others,what a great movie house,hope it sees the light of day again someday

  10. Douglas Roger Dexheimer permalink
    October 18, 2012 11:43 am

    To Matt, John and Derrik. I am involved with Pipe organ restoration. I believe Hall organs were well made. I even have a few ranks of Hall pipes that are collecting dust in my attic.
    If the windchest and pipework are intact they would be worth removing and reconditioning. The design of wind chests and pipes has not changed since the early 1900’s.
    I doubt if the old console is useful, because the old technology with pneumatic switches has been replaced with digital switching.
    Unfortunately I am too far removed from the location, and already have more than I can restore in several lifetimes. I would like to encourage anyone to give the windchests and pipes their consideration and if appropriate, their TLC..
    DRD

  11. Musician permalink
    October 29, 2012 9:13 pm

    Probably the theater has remarkable acoustics. Is it true?

  12. Liz permalink
    December 26, 2012 10:45 pm

    My mother used to be a candy girl here and I used to play in the curtains while the movie played. This was one of my favorite memories as a child and I’ve grown to love old theatres. I would love to see this beautiful, historic building come back to life and bring joy to others as it did so many.

  13. Clif Snow permalink
    January 31, 2013 8:04 pm

    Clif Snow
    Having worked there, I can say that in the summer, it was cool in there,
    There is Air Conditioning, And also HEAT, this is “under” the main lobby.
    A maintenance man was needed to operate this equipment.
    He got very sick, and we visited him in St.V’s, myself and the candy girls !

  14. April 20, 2013 5:09 pm

    Just wanted to compliment this site. I’m both elated and saddened to find it – and you’re absolutely right – people paid to see the theatre, not the movie. But excellent work. I really appreciate what it is you’re doing.

    On a side note (and you’re welcome to send me a message privately if you need to answer that way), but how do you gain access to the interiors of many of the buildings which are in significant disrepair?

  15. Eli permalink
    May 16, 2013 4:37 pm

    This is how they sparked people’s imaginations before special effects. How could you not have a great experience in a building like this?! As our built environment becomes more and more focused on cost and marketing-of-the-moment, buildings like this one help remind people of what is possible and how people lived in earlier times.

  16. Troy Leong permalink
    May 29, 2013 5:07 pm

    Hello….my mom remembers this theater….she’s 77 now. Is it being renovated or has renovations come to a halt. So sad if it has. There’s many useful classic buildings towns just let go….and they shouldn’t…..this is our history.

  17. j coulter permalink
    August 21, 2013 11:25 am

    I remember going to the Palace both in the 60’s to see a double Walt Disney Features and in 1974 to see an Adult film called “Pennywise” I paid $2.25 to see this 25 minute film followed by an out of date Travelog film short. The Theater smelled bad inside and they did not advertise these Adult movies. You either knew about it or you didn’t. Also there would be Blue lights under the marquee letting people know the Palace was open.

  18. PETER permalink
    July 28, 2014 12:55 am

    Damn, this is sad.

  19. PETER permalink
    July 28, 2014 1:00 am

    My two aunts who worked at General Electric on Boston Avenue would take my older brother and me to both the Loew’s Poli and Majestic beginning in the early ’40’s. I was about three years old, and the first movie I remember seeing there was NOTORIOUS, and I remember that scene where Ingrid Bergman is drugged out and in bed and sees Cary Grant upside down! And then, of course, we would see the MGM movies at the Loew’s Poli and the 20th Century Fox films at the Majestic.

Trackbacks

  1. Bridgeport theaters | Hunroom
  2. The RKO Hamilton Theatre « After the Final Curtain
  3. Loew’s Majestic Theatre « After the Final Curtain
  4. The Ridgewood Theatre « After the Final Curtain
  5. After the Curtain: RKO Hamilton Theater | Untapped New York
  6. 10 Incredible Abandoned Theaters Around The USA | The Roosevelts
  7. Loew’s Palace Theater Bridgeport / CT | Anshitsu - Lost and Forgotten Places
  8. Theater RePhotographs | After the Final Curtain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,172 other followers

%d bloggers like this: