Snapshot: Hollywood Theatre

Post 4 in the Snapshot Series  – Occasionally in my travels I come across a theater that I can’t find a lot of information on, or that I only have a chance to photograph for an hour or two. They’re still beautiful and fascinating, so they definitely have a place on After the Final Curtain.


View of the auditorium from the divided balcony.

View of the auditorium from the divided balcony.

Originally billed as the “Pride of the East Side,” the Hollywood Theatre, located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, opened on March, 11 1926. It was operated by the Mayer and Schneider (M&S) Circuit, and designed by architect Harrison G. Wiseman, who is also known for the nearby Village East Cinemas. According to an account in the Motion Picture News, the crowd on opening night was so large that the police had to cordon the entrance prevent them from storming the theater. The opening was attended by a number of that era’s stars of stage and screen including; George Walsh, Wally Van, Julia Faye, and Edna Purviance.

The balcony level was used as storage after the orchestra level was converted to retail space.

The balcony level was used as storage after the orchestra level was converted to retail space.

The 1,303 seat theater was later managed by RKO and Loew’s Inc. before closing in 1959. After the theater closed, the orchestra level of the auditorium and the lobby were converted into separate retail spaces. The former orchestra level became a series of grocery stores, beginning with a Pioneer Supermarket in 1960. In early 2012, it was announced that the East Farms Supermarket, the latest tenant to occupy the space, would close and the building would be demolished to make way for an eight-story condo building with retail space on the main floor. Demolition began in 2014, and the new building is scheduled to open in the winter of 2016.

A Kimball organ was installed in the theater when it opened, and was removed after it closed.

A Kimball organ was installed in the theater when it opened in 1926, and was removed after it closed.



13 thoughts on “Snapshot: Hollywood Theatre

  1. Thanks for your wonderful work!
    I’m curious about the Hollywood Theater: was there anything remaining on the exterior to suggest it was once a theater? Im wondering if I ever walked by and didn’t notice.

    • Actually, there was. I first found out about the theater when I went to dinner at a tapas place located across the street. I saw the fire escape doors, and knew that it used to be a theater. Unfortunately, there’s nothing left of the original building anymore.

      • Are you familiar with the 1927 State Theater in Stoughton, Mass? It looks to be largely intact and people are working on restoration:

  2. Bennie’s Burritos? I too noticed the exits about 10 years ago when we visited. I went nosing around then but didn’t get any info.

    • I think the Burrito place was where the lobby used to be, but it was already closed by the time I first noticed the building in early 2010.

  3. Pingback: Snapshot: Hollywood Theatre | Rogues & Vagabonds

  4. I love urban ruins photography. There’s just something about the textures and the hauntingly beautiful nature of the subject matter. However, I also love an old building that is still in good condition or restored. Last Summer, I had the opportunity to photograph a restored theater. The knowledge that some have been saved is encouraging.

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