Skip to content

Fabian Theatre

February 26, 2013
View of the balcony auditorium after multiplexing.

View of the balcony auditorium after multiplexing.

The Fabian Theatre opened on December 14, 1925 in Paterson, New Jersey. Designed by Paterson architect Fred Wesley Wentworth for theater magnate Jacob Fabian, the 3,228 seat theater was built in a Sullivanesque style with a two ton chandelier, tile floors, murals, and Turkish baths in the basement.

The foyer of the Fabian Theatre.

The foyer of the Fabian Theatre.

The Fabian opened with the silent film “We Moderns” as well as a performance from the Fabian Grand Orchestra. Several of the comedy duo Abbott and Costello’s film premiers were held at the Fabian, due to it being in Lou Costello’s hometown. The films shown were “One Night in the Tropics,” “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” In 1948, Reverend Charles Tarter, a civil rights pioneer, challenged segregation by repeatedly sitting in the main level of the auditorium at a time when African Americans were only allowed to sit in the balcony.

View of the back of the balcony auditorium from the stage.

View of the back of the balcony auditorium from the stage.

Shortly after opening, the Fabian Theatre Chain merged with Stanley Warner, who modernized the theater in 1962. The standing area at the back of the main level of the auditorium was cut off from the seats by a glass wall. The seating was reduced by 500, the chandelier was replaced and a new projection equipment and sound system were installed. All of the marble in the theater was cleaned and repolished by the same company that originally installed it almost 40 years earlier.

Some of the original plaster-work shows through a modern renovation.

Some of the original plaster work shows through a modern renovation.

In July 1977, the theater was sold to Theater Management Associates, who turned it into a triplex. The main level was divided into two 500 seat theaters, and the 1,200 seats on the balcony. The Fabian reopened in late 1977 as the Fabian 1-2-3. Two additional screens were added to the stage area in the early 1980s. The Fabian closed in late 1993.

The proscenium arch was covered up during the 1977 triplexing of the theater.

The proscenium arch was covered up during the 1977 triplexing of the theater.

After being closed for over ten years, demolition of the Fabian was approved by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection in 2004. The site was slated to become office space and parking for the Paterson Board of Education, but the project was never executed. The theater was gutted to make way for condos and retail space in 2011.

A closeup of the mural in the theater's foyer.

A closeup of the mural in the theater’s foyer.

Another look at the back of the auditorium from the stage.

Another look at the back of the auditorium from the stage.

Fabian_Theatre_03

 

© Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About these ads
6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2013 12:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Dan Strange Studio.

  2. February 27, 2013 11:25 am

    Are their any plans for it now? It would be amazing restored

    • February 27, 2013 11:37 am

      I believe it is slated to become retail space. A restoration is no longer possible because the interior of the building has been stripped to the bare walls.

  3. Mark Bender permalink
    February 27, 2013 10:45 pm

    Two comments Matt: First…”If wall could talk”…, and secondly, the walls would probably say “I’m so tired, they pulled pieces from me for years”. Great documentation on this theater’s history with wonderful photos accompanying it. Thanks for posting.

  4. April 23, 2013 5:07 pm

    I have many memories of this theatre although not around when it opened spent a lot of time there in the 50’s and 60’s. Although my favorite theatre in Paterson was the Garden.

  5. May 30, 2013 8:28 am

    All the photos in this blog have a certain kind of haunted beauty… one can penetrate them and feel the atmosphere.

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 8,171 other followers

%d bloggers like this: