The Center Theatre is an art deco theater that was designed by architect Abraham H. Okun and built in 1938. Okun was a prominent local architect at the time, known for many other buildings in the county (such as the Ohave Shalom Synagogue). Located in the hamlet of Woodbourne, NY in the Borscht Belt (an area of the Catskills known for being a popular vacation spot for Jewish people from the New York metropolitan area), it was the first air-conditioned theater in Sullivan county.
The theater was built for both film showings and vaudeville performances. The auditorium was the largest in the area with 650 seats, and was used for area high school graduations in the 40’s and 50’s. In the early 1970’s a group of people that was attracted to the region due to it’s proximity to the Woodstock Music Festival site rented the theater. They reopened it as the Peace Palace (complete with a “natural” snack bar) and hosted live musical performances. A large mural known as the “Woodstock Peace Painting” was painted above the foyer. The painting combines both the art deco style of the original construction and the popular psychedelic art of the early 70’s.
The theater fell victim to the decline of the Borscht Belt and closed in the 1980’s. In 2001, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There were plans to renovate the theater in the mid 2000’s, but there has been no additional work done since 2005.