Montauk Theatre

The Montauk Theatre during demolition

The Montauk Theatre opened on January 30, 1924 in Passaic, NJ on the site of a former vaudeville theater — also called the Montauk Theatre — that was popular in the early 1900’s. Designed by local architect Abram Presikel in the Adamesque style, the theater sat 2,638 people and was operated by the Fabian Enterprises theater chain (which was known for showing both First National Pictures and Warner Bros. films).  

View from the stage of the Montauk

After closing briefly in 1974, the Montauk was reopened as an independent adult movie theater. It closed on and off in the late 90’s due to police raids on men engaging in sexual activities during the movies. During one raid in 1999 more than 30 patrons were arrested.

Adamesque designs above one of the exit doors

The Montauk closed permanently in May of 2005. The city of Passaic took ownership and demolished the building in May 2011 to make way for a public school complex.

The remains of the lobby area
View of the audience area from stage right
The remains of the stage area
A former dressing room
Exit stage right
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19 thoughts on “Montauk Theatre

    1. I was so saddened to see that the city destroyed this building, I grew up one block away from the Montauk Theater….Well this was the last one too., Remember the Central Theater? It used to stand where McDonalds is now,….and the Capital Theater?…All gone. Passaic has changed a lot from when I lived there and graduated from Passaic High School in 1981., but then the world has changed a lot too, unfortunately not for the better…. oh well, must enjoy life.

    2. The city has destroyed almost anything it can get its hands on. It’s now just a ghetto with gangs, murder, crime and virtually no history left worth remembering. I’m glad I moved away many years ago.

  1. Thomas Holowinski
    October 4, 2011
    I worked in Passaic, NJ for almost twenty five years and went to the Montauk many times both before and after. It’s a shame that the City Of Passaic had it destroyed. I remember going to a Polish movie there many years ago with a group of Polish people that were friends. Some of us are still around and reminisce about the fun we had that evening. Too bad it’s gone.

  2. I’m sure my father went to the Montauk as a young Scottish immigrant. He lived in Passaic in the 1920s, and in fact there were a lot of Scots living there through the 50’s and 60’s. My aunts used to live on Gregory Avenue. Thanks for sharing these sadly beautiful photos.

  3. I was able to photograph the Montauk before the stripping of artifacts/demolition started. I have numerous photos of the interior if anyone is interested in seeing them. This theater was in SHOCKINGLY awesome shape and the fact that it is an empty lot today saddens me. The photos I have aren’t as “artistic” as those above, but you can definitely get an idea of how grand it once was.

    1. Michael,

      I’d love to see your Montauk photos & any other Passaic theatre photos that you may have. I was born in Passaic, grew up in Wallington & frequented all of the theatres except the Palace on Market St.

      Thanks

    2. Hi Michael, I know you posted this over two years ago, but if you see this I would love to take a look at those photographs.

  4. I was born and grew up in passaic till i got married at 18. Its changed i had my dance recital at the central theater in passaic.
    I moved out in 1976 when i got married but moved back for short few years.

  5. Its a shame tearing buildings for schools and MacDonalds. No one has respect for our old cultures or what was left behind as a old historic Passaic landmark.It sickens me how what was there when I was growing up is now gone. The old train station my grandfather worked at is now a parking lot.

  6. Lyle, thanks for forwarding the article. As a 30 year resident of Passaic, I see it as a shame that our society no longer puts an emphisis on what really matters. Our culture is in decay. I only remember the Montaulk as a sleazy movie theater but I know of it’s history and better days. My time was spent in the Capital for 70’s concerts and very young days at the Central theater for movies. Sorry to see the last of the great Passaic theaters gone.

  7. Michael, plz post any (or all) of the pictures you have of the old theaters, would love to see them. p.s. I graduated Clifton H.S. with a Ronald Perlman, any relation?

  8. Passaic’s other theaters were the Central, the Capitol, the Lincoln, and the Palace.

    Nearby, in Clifton, was the Clifton Theater, also of pre-WWII vintage, and the Allowood, built as best I can reall in the 1950s. Unless I am mistaken the latter continues to operate.

    Next door to the much-loved Montauk was a old-school restaurant “The Ritz.” I also recall and ice cream parlor — can’t recall its name — on its other flank.

    This was the golden age of movie going. With the rise of TV just after 1945, surely it ate into the profit margins of these theaters

  9. Here we are, over four years later and nothing has happened with this property. Makes you kinda wonder if they just wanted to get rid of that “old porno theater.”

      1. Yup that’s what happened. Still nothing built on that very site where the Montauk used to stand. The hotels that used to be in Passaic are now long gone and the Chinese food restaurant off of main and Passaic Street is gone too. Passaic sold out it’s landmarks and decent restaurants for hole in the wall spots. I live in Passaic currently and it’s sad to even come home everyday to what was once a great city. Parking forget it! Good luck with that!

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