The Elmora Theatre – Elizabeth, New Jersey

View from the side of the auditorium.

The Elmora Theatre opened on February 15, 1927 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It was called “The Theatre Beautiful” in early advertisements and was primarily a live playhouse when it opened. The Kirkham Players, a local acting company, performed in most of the plays shown at the Elmora. However, on June 11, 1928, a little over a year after they began, J. Ellis Kirkham, the managing director of the Kirkham Players, resigned because of a difference of opinion on managerial policy. Kirkham’s resignation led to a much less popular group taking over the Elmora, and by 1929 it had closed.

Looking back from the stage.

On April 1st 1929, Werba and Taylor of New York City reopened the Elmora. The first play shown at the newly christened Werba’s Elmora was “The Trial of Mary Dugan.” By 1941, the Elmora had switched to showing motion pictures, and continued to do so until it closed. Bob Jaspan, an Elizabeth City Councilman, had purchased the theater in 1986. Jaspan purchased the building to move his hardware store there, but was convinced to keep the theater open by his constituents. He ran two-for-one specials, reduced ticket prices and held monthly screenings for senior citizens, but ultimately could not compete with nearby multiplexes.

Jaspan closed the theater in 1996. After it closed, Jaspan had the long hallway style lobby split up into retail spaces, and rented out the auditorium to the Evangelistic Hispanic Church. Jaspan sold the theater a few years later. The auditorium became a secondhand furniture showroom in 2007, but that didn’t last long because of the deteriorating state of the building.


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