The Ritz Theatre in Carteret, New Jersey originally opened on September 1, 1927. According to an article in “The Carteret Press,” which ran the the week before the opening, “it [was] the first modern theater to be erected in the borough and is up-to-date in every respect.” The 1,000 to 1,200 seat Ritz (accounts on the number of seats differ) was designed by local architect John Gliva. It was a vaudeville and silent film house until September 1928, when a Western Electric sound apparatus was installed to allow for the showing of “talkie” films.
The theater closed on January 31, 1965, and the building was converted into a sewing factory. However, during the conversion the building was not gutted — instead, walls were built inside the auditorium, which covered and protected the ornate plasterwork. After the bakery that had been occupying the building since the 1980’s closed in 2013, the borough of Carteret took possession and discovered the protected auditorium behind the interior walls.
Carteret planned to restore and expand the Ritz into a 1,600 seat performing arts center and movie theater. In 2015, the borough received a $6 million grant from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund to be used for the new performing arts center. However, a structural survey conducted during the planning stages revealed that the cost of restoring the existing structure would be cost prohibitive and the theater was demolished in early August 2017. The opening of the Carteret Performing Arts Center is planned for 2018, and will host live music and cultural events, off-broadway plays and comedy acts. A portion of the new building will honor the original Ritz Theatre.
The Adams 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.
The Adams Theatre in Newark, New Jersey originally opened on January 12, 1912 as the Shubert Theatre. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architect William E. Lehman, who also designed the Proctor’s Palace Theatre in Yonkers, NY. The 2,037 seat theater was originally used for theatrical productions, Broadway tryouts and revivals.
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The Fabian Theatre opened on December 14, 1925 in Paterson, New Jersey. Designed by Paterson architect Fred Wesley Wentworth for theater magnate Jacob Fabian, the 3,228 seat theater was built in a Sullivanesque style with a two ton chandelier, tile floors, murals, and Turkish baths in the basement.
The Paramount Theatre opened as the Broadway Theatre in Long Branch, New Jersey on August 1, 1912. The project was commissioned by theater magnate Walter Reade on the site of an old Episcopal church. The 1,772 seat Broadway began showing plays and vaudeville performances before transitioning over to film.
The Paramount 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.
The Paramount Theatre opened on October 11, 1886 as H.C. Miner’s Newark Theatre. It was originally a vaudeville house managed by Hyde & Behman Amusement Co., a Brooklyn based theater Management Company. After H.C. Miner’s death in 1900, his surviving relatives retained ownership of the theater for several years until its sale in 1916 to Edward Spiegel, the owner of the nearby Strand Theatre. Spiegel also purchased the building next to the theater with the intent to use the space to expand the theater. To accomplish this he hired famed theater architect Thomas W. Lamb to do the alterations.
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). Continue reading “Montauk Theatre”
Located on the top of Proctor’s Palace Theatre, Proctor’s Palace Roof Theatre also opened on November 22, 1915. The Palace was originally used for smaller vaudeville productions before switching over to film at around the same time as its downstairs counterpart.
After the switch, the Roof Theatre was rarely used and eventually reopened in the early 1960s as the Penthouse Cinema, mainly showing foreign films like Ingmar Bergman’s “Secrets of Women.”
RKO Proctor’s Theatre opened in Newark, NJ on November 25, 1915 as the Proctor’s Palace Theatre. The architect was John W. Merrow, the nephew of Proctor theater circuit owner Frederick F. Proctor.
The Palace was a double decker theater, which meant that one auditorium was stacked on top of the other, a rare design choice at the time. The lower, street-level auditorium had 2,300 seats and the upper had around 900. The space was among the largest and most open in the area, leading the city to use it as the site of it’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1916.