This theater is not abandoned, but I had the chance to shoot it late last year, and I wanted to share the images with everyone.
In the early 1920s, the Paramount-Publix theater chain planned to open five theaters in the New York City area. However, in December of 1927 those plans were put on hold due to an agreement with the Loew’s Corporation. The agreement stated that Loew’s would not open any new theaters in Chicago, and Paramount would not open any more in New York. The plans for four of the theaters were then turned over to the Loew’s Corporation. Two years later on January 12, 1929, The Loew’s Valencia Theatre opened in Jamaica, Queens, and became the first of the five Loew’s “Wonder” theaters.
Designed by renowned theater architect John Eberson in his signature “atmospheric” style, the Valencia has a blend of elements from Spanish, Moorish and Baroque styles. The 3,440 seat theater opened with the film “White Shadows in the South Seas,” starring Monte Blue and Raquel Torres, as well as a vaudeville stage show. The live stage shows lasted for six years before being phased out in early 1935.
The building was almost designated a New York City landmark in 1976 after some locals organized a nomination campaign. However, the Loew’s corporation advised the Landmarks Preservation Commission that they were opposed to the nomination, and the theater was not declared a landmark.
The Valencia closed in 1977 with a showing of “The Greatest,” starring Muhammad Ali. Two years later, the theater was donated to the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People, a church from Brooklyn. Over the years, the church has made only a few changes to the theater, including adding a chandelier and turning the nude statues into angels.
In 1999, the new owners applied for and were granted landmark status by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission.