Cinematic transitions: Brooklyn’s old theaters take new forms

The Brooklyn Paper
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NEW MISSION: The Rialto Theatre now serves as the Cortelyou Road Church of God.
BEAR WITNESS: Like its neighbor the Rialto, the Albemarle Theatre has become a house of worship.
STORE CREDIT: The Loew’s Oriental Theatre building on 86th Street in Bath Beach is now home to a Marshalls store.
BODY DOUBLE: The Plaza on Flatbush Avenue, later the Flatbush Pavilion, was a point of common ground for Park Slope residents and their neighbors in Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Now its a hipster clothing store.

Flatbush’s Kings Theatre roared back to life this week, just days after news broke that Fort Greene’s Paramount Theatre is on track to reprise its role as a gilded performance hall after a half-century as a Long Island University gymnasium. But for every story like these — and they don’t come along very often — there are a dozen grand old theaters hiding in plain sight, having taken on new identities as rug shops, mega-churches, and Modell’s Sporting Goods stores. We at The Brooklyn Paper love an old theater, so we figured we’d take this opportunity to share a taste of some of the picture palaces that are hiding in plain sight, including two within a block or so of the Kings.

Plaza (later Flatbush Pavilion)

314 Flatbush Ave. between Carlton Avenue and Park Place

Built in: 1912

Closed in: 2004

Now houses: An American Apparel store

Fun fact: Originally known as the Bunny Theater after its founder, silent-film star John Bunny. It also did a stint as a porn theater.

Loew’s Oriental Theatre

1832 86th St. at Bay 19th Street in Bensonhurst

Built in: 1927

Known for: Its vaudeville performances and lavish, faux-Asian decor

Closed in: 1995

Now houses: A Marshalls department store

Fun fact: By the time it closed, the theater’s grand main room had been divided up twice. The 2,700-seat theater was split between its upper and lower levels in 1977, making it a two-screen operation, and in 1984 the balcony was again chopped in two, making it a triplex.

Albemarle Theatre

973 Flatbush Ave. at Albemarle Road

Built in: 1921

Closed in: 1984

Now houses: A Jehovah’s Witnesses hall

Fun fact: The marquee advertised the 1982 movie “Creepshow” for years after a fire damaged the theater and forced it to close.

Rialto Theatre

1085 Flatbush Ave. at Cortelyou Road

Built in: 1916

Closed in: 1976

Now houses: Cortelyou Road Church of God

Fun fact: During the era of silent movies, the theater employed a small orchestra and organist to accompany films and play during intermission.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Cecil from Babylon says:
And many many others:
Feb. 4, 2015, 10:18 am
Nancy from Bay Ridge says:
This is great, but there are so many more!
Feb. 4, 2015, 11:43 am

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