I’m getting married this October so I’m having a print sale to help us go on our honeymoon! Use the code “HONEYMOONSALE” at http://www.afterthefinalcurtainprints.com/ when checking out to get 25% off your order. I’ve added some images from upcoming blog posts as well as new photographs from old favorites (including some shots of the renovated Kings Theatre) to the prints page.
If you have any questions please e-mail me and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
Kodak Professional Supra Endura Luster paper is used for all print sizes.
B.F Keith’s Prospect Theatre opened on September 7, 1914 in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. The 2,381 seat theater was constructed on the site of a synagogue and three apartment buildings. It was designed by architect William McElfatrick for the Keith Vaudeville Company. The Prospect was dubbed “the woodless and postless theater” while it was being built due to the fact that no wood was used in its construction and there were no posts helping to support the balcony. Woodwork was left out of the building so that the theater would be much safer if a fire broke out. The balcony was supported by a 65 ton steel beam, which eliminated the need for support beams that could have obstructed views during performances. Opening advertisements boasted that the balcony was strong enough to support the world’s ten heaviest locomotives.
Is this thing on? I’m happy to announce that the hiatus is over! I’ve reached a point with the book (more on that soon, I promise) where I can start making regular updates to the site once again. The first post goes live tomorrow and will be familiar to those of you who follow AtFC on Facebook – The Prospect Theatre in Brooklyn, NY.
Proscenium arch from the balcony, Loew’s Kings Theatre. B&W Image from the Loew’s Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America
I’m very excited to announce that I’ve partnered with the Theatre Historical Society of America for my first book: Kings Theatre, The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre. The book will cover the entire history of the Loew’s Kings Theatre from it’s original construction to the reopening in February 2015. I’ve photographed over 75 abandoned theaters over the past 5 years, and being able to document one being restored has been amazing. Every visit to the theater has been awe inspiring and I can’t wait to share what I’ve seen with all of you.
The large mirrors in the Boyd’s lobby are some of the art deco features that will be preserved.
The Boyd Theatre was demolished in the spring of 2014, despite the efforts of the Friends of the Boyd. This demolition means that Philadelphia is one of the only large cities in America without at least one restored downtown movie palace. Fortunately, the Friends of the Boyd were able to come to an agreement with the owners to preserve some of the art deco features of the theater.
Post 3 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
The remains of the Empress Theatre’s proscenium arch.
The Empress Theatre opened in 1927 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The 1,595 seat theater was built by architect Charles A. Sandblom, who is also known for the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. Originally part of the Century Circuit, the theater became part of the RKO circuit in 1929.
The Shore is one of the 22 theaters in my new book “After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater.” Find out more here.
View of the auditorium from the balcony.
The Shore Theatre opened as the Loew’s Coney Island Theatre on June 17, 1925 in Brooklyn, New York. The 2,387 seat theater was built by the Chanin Construction Company, which was also known for the construction of the now demolished Roxy Theatre in Manhattan. Before opening, the theater was leased to the Loew’s theater chain for an annual cost of $150,000. The Shore was designed in a Renaissance revival style by the Reilly & Hall architecture firm, who were proteges of famed theater architect Thomas W. Lamb. Reilly & Hall included a nautical theme in the theater’s design, due to the building’s proximity to the ocean. According to an article in theNew York Times, construction of the theater cost over $2,000,000, ( $27,000,000 when adjusted for inflation.) The cost of construction was quite high for a theater of the Coney Island’s size, and that was due to the ground beneath the building being largely made up of sand.
View of the auditorium from the side of the balcony.
The Shore opening was presided over by Loew’s theater chain founder Marcus Loew, and included many of that era’s stars of stage and screen. Some of the many celebrities at the opening included; Johnny Hines, Barbara LaMarr,Mae Busch, Virginia Lee Corbin, and Teddy Sampson. Nine bands from various nightclubs around the city performed and the opening feature was the movie “The Sporting Venus” starring silent film star Blanche Sweet. According to an account by the Brooklyn Citizen, the crowd at the opening was so large it had to be cordoned by police. The theater was designed to be a combination house, showing both vaudeville and motion pictures, but eventually largely phased out the vaudeville performances, only bringing them back on special occasions.
A water fountain in the theater’s lobby.
On February 15, 1941, David Dolinsky, the manager of the Loew’s Coney Island, was being escorted to a local bank to deposit the day’s receipts by NYPD officer Leon Fox. A car pulled up alongside them and opened fire killing Fox. The robbers were eventually caught and sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned after they appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Much of the proscenium arch has collapsed due to leaks in the roof.
Evro Theatre Corporation acquired the theater from Loew’s Inc. in September 1964. Sam Kantor, the president of Evro, had worked for Brandt Theatres for almost 30 years, and continued to do so with his new company. Brandt handled the booking and advertising for the theater, which was renamed Brandt’s Shore Theatre. A little over a year later on January 1, 1966 the Brandt Co. switched the theater to a live performance venue beginning with a production of “Let’s Dance.” They attempted to appeal to Brooklyn’s large Jewish population by presenting stage shows such as “Bagels & Yox.” but that failed to catch on. On May 16, 1966, the Shore joined Leroy Griffith’s burlesque circuit with a show titled “Stars ‘n’ Strips Forever.” The burlesque shows were eventually phased out and the theater resumed showing motion pictures.
The orchestra level was used to store kitchen equipment.
By the early 1970’s, the Shore had turned to exploitation and eventually adult films. The theater closed permanently in March of 1973. Horace Bullard, owner of the Kansas Fried Chicken chain, purchased the building in 1978, and began to convert it into a casino. The seats on the main level were removed and the main floor was leveled before the state decided not to allow gambling on Coney Island. The Shore Theatre building was declared a historical landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on December 10, 2010. It was sold to Pye Properties for $20 million dollars in January 2016. In June 2018, Pye Properties announced that they plan on turning the building into a hotel with a a spa, banquet hall, and a bathhouse. They did not specify how much, if anything, of the theater will remain.
A compass in the center of the auditorium ceiling.
More of the nautical plaster work that covers the auditorium ceiling.
View of the Loew’s Palace Theatre from the balcony.
Hi everyone – I want to let you all know about an upcoming event.
On August 18, I’ll be giving a lecture on “The Fall of the American Movie Palace” as part of the Atlas Obscura Speakers series of talks at the Observatory in Brooklyn.
Here’s some information about it from the Observatory’s website:
There’s nothing remarkable about a movie theater today, but there used to be. When the great American Movie Palaces opened, they were some of the most lavish, stunning buildings anyone had ever seen. With the birth of the multiplex, theater companies found it harder and harder to keep these buildings open. Some were demolished, some were converted, and some remain to this day. “The Fall of the American Movie Palace” will take you through the history of these magnificent buildings, from their opening in the early 1900s to years after the final curtain.