Fire, Sparta Theatre, Bowery, Coney Island, Brooklyn

On Sunday, July 12, 2015,  Cezar Del Valle, author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index Volume III, hosts the cHURCH OF MONICA, Open Source Gallery, with an illustrated talk on the history of Coney Island theatre.

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The Evening Telegram, August 10, 1904:
“The first intimation that a blaze existed was given to the audience on the canvas in which the moving pictures were being shown. The machine itself caused the fire as the result of the photographic films coming in contact with the carbon flame.

“On the canvas was being shown a picture of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ When the film caught fire it was passing behind lens at a rapid rate and for the space of a minute the real flames were reflected into the picture ‘Inferno.’ At first the audience thought the reflection was part of the picture, but the cry of fire brought them to a realization that the picture was near to being real.

“The picture machine was located in a partly enclosed booth in the balcony of the music hall. The flames spread to the second floor in spite of the fact that the booth was sheathed in tin. Johnson Smith, the operator was burned about the face and hands while making his escape from the booth.”

Above photo from a postcard in the Theatre Talks Collection, please ask permission to copy and/or use. At least give credit to source. We know that some people will not honor this but it would be nice if they did.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

He is available for theatre talks and walking tours in 2015: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.

Now selling “vintage” on Etsy.

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Nostrand Theatre 657 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

With the third and final volume of the Brooklyn Theatre Index nearing its publication,  we will be featuring, during the month of September, Brooklyn performance spaces on our various blogs and websites.

Excerpts from Moving Picture World, November 19, 1910:

“The ‘Nostrand’ is indeed an exemplification of all that we have been trying to teach our readers a thoroughly high-class place of amusement should consist of.”

Nostrand_pe

“As you enter the ‘Nostrand,’ instead of passing directly into the auditorium you enter a handsome spacious foyer about twenty-five feet square. Here are large easy chairs, settees and tables of green crex and the decorations are carried out in a deep shade of green.

“The floor is white tile and a few white marble steps lead up at the rear of the auditorium. There are mirrors where in the polished surface the ladies can assure themselves that their hats are set on the latest chic angles before leaving. This, so Mr.Schloh [co-owner Henry L.] believes, banishes one of the greatest terrors that the ladies have in removing their hats.”
Nostrandlobby

 “On entering the auditorium you seem almost for the moment to have found yourself in some tropical country from which the last dim light of day is receding. The walls from about one-third of the distance up all the way to the ceiling are painted with an artistic mural frieze showing waving palms, sand beaches, long stretches of blue ocean and sloping hillsides. The artist has accomplished his work perfectly  and has left nothing to be criticised or desired.”

“The auditorium is forty-seven feet wide and a trifle longer, and there is an incline from the back to the front of about eight feet perpendicular. There are three large skylight ventilators and four exits. The center aisle is six feet in width and there are two side aisles each four feet wide. The floor is heavily carpeted.

“For the convenience of the patrons a telephone booth has been installed, and by this means it is possible for doctors who wish to seek a few moments relaxation to visit the ‘Nostrand,’ for they are within instant touch with their offices and the hospitals.”

Nostrandint_pe

“The operating booth is nine feet in length by seven feet in width and is topped by a skylight ventilator so that the operator is always supplied with plenty of fresh air. Recently a new Power’s No. 6 machine was installed.”

“One of the features of the ‘Nostrand’ is the music and not to mention this important adjunct would be to leave half unsaid.”

“Mr. Martin Savage, who has charge of this department, has been in the game a long time, and judging from his gray hairs he might be said  a veteran in it.”

“He operates with excellent taste about fifty-three ‘traps’ and is also a proficient bell-ringer. He keeps his bells on the table at the front all the time and renders selections on them between reels. This is the nearest approach to vaudeville that will probably ever enter the ‘Nostrand.'”

“The ‘Nostrand’ is owned and operated by partners, Mr. William Haase and Mr. Henry L. Schloh. These two men can be easily classed among the leading exponents of moving picture exhibiting in Brooklyn.”

 “Those of my readers who know anything about Brooklyn, know that to live in the St. Marks section means that your bank account is a large one.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014, historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.

Feltman’s Seaside Garden, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

The second in our summer series of outdoor movie theatres (airdromes).

Feltman's

 

The New York Clipper, July 11, 1914:

“In the rear of the park  there has just been erected one of the largest and finest open air moving picture theatres in the country. The theatre seats over two thousand people and only first run pictures are shown. While admission to the park is free, there is a charge of ten cents to enter the picture theatre.”

The Brooklyn Eagle, June 9, 1915:

“The Seaside Garden seats 2,000 people and has a full orchestra. Two motion picture machines are employed so that there is no delay while waiting for the pictures to be shown.”

The Brooklyn Eagle, June 1, 1919:

“Feltman’s Coney Island motion picture airdrome, which is built on the beach, will open the 1919 season next Saturday night with the newest Mary Pickford production, ‘Daddy Long Legs’ for the entire week. The airdrome which seats 2,000, will be directed this season by William Brandt, president of the motion Picture Exhibitors League Brooklyn, who operates several other theaters in Brooklyn.”

 

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2013.

 

Jefferson Theater 811 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Excerpts from Moving Picture World, February 21, 1914:

Jeffferson theatre

“The accompanying photo-engraving is a view of the Jefferson Theater, 811-813 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. It is owned and managed by the Jefferson Photo Show Company, comprised of George Hilkemeier, president, and William Hilkemeier, secretary and treasurer.

“As soon as the late Mayor Gaynor signed the ordinance allowing among other things that all New York motion picture theaters may have a seating capacity of six hundred seats, Messrs. Hilkemeier got busy and soon the contractors were hard at work renovating the house to take advantage of the law. In addition to running the Jefferson Theater, the company operates four airdromes in the eastern part of Brooklyn.

“The Hilkemeier Brothers have been in the business since 1904 when they bought their first picture house for the sum of $150. They have always kept their original policy of a good, clean show in the forefront, resulting in big profits. They do not believe in the ‘country store’ inducements or any other such device to get the public patronizing their shows, and are firmly convinced that these schemes will past out of existance in the evolution of the business.”

A 1943 Housing Authority photograph of the Jefferson shortly before its demolition:

Jefferson
 Photo: La Guardia and Wagner Archives, La Guardia Community College

 

Cezar Del Valle   is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre walks and talks in 2013.