723 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Greenpoint

"movie theater", architecture, CHHNP

The building now occupied by a Rite Aid used to be the Meserole Theater.
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There are no movie theaters in North Brooklyn, an abscence that is especially surprising given that at one time there were nine theaters in Greenpoint alone.[1]   Over the decades the theaters slowly disappeared as they were converted to other uses or demolished entirely.[2] 

Beginning operations in 1920 as the Garden, the theater at 723 Manhattan Ave was later renamed the Fox-Meserole and then simply the Meserole.[3]  The theater was named after the Meserole family, who were among the first settlers in the area. In fact, the original farmhouse may have been torn down to accommodate the theater, which is built on former Meserole land.

Though it appears quite small from the Manhattan Ave entrance,  the theater opened up as it stretched through the block to Lorimer St and its single screen with balconies could accomodate nearly 2,000 people.  To encourage patrons to attend movies during the week, the theater gave out a dish or plate at each show and if you went back every week you could eventually assemble a complete dinnerware set.[4]  

The Garden, which was opened by S&S Circuit was later bought by William Fox.  Like most of the Fox Brooklyn theatres, it eventually landed under Randforce management and then became a United Artist theater when the parent company retired the Randforce name.[5]   UA operated the theater until closing in 1977.  The space was subsequently converted into a roller rink known as Laces and then became Liquidator’s Arena, a huge 99-cent shop.  Later it became a Genovese and then an Eckerd and then a Rite Aid, transitioning from one to the next as the drugstore industry consolidated.  Despite all the renovations, much of the old theater remains intact, including the limestone brick facade and the interior plaster details. Strangely, the disco ball from the old roller rink still hangs from the ceiling, dangling where there was once a fabulous chandelier.
  1. www.greenpointers.blogspot.com.  "Greenpointers: Quickie: Silver Screens of Greenpoint". <http://greenpointers.blogspot.com/2008/03/quickie-silver-screens-of-greenpoint.html>.  Accessed on 9/27/2010.
  2. www.observer.com.  "Lights! Camera! Northern Brooklyn! | The New York Observer".  <http://www.observer.com/2008/real-estate/starring-northern-brooklyn>.  Accessed on 9/27/2010.
  3. www.scoutingny.com.  "Hidden in a Rite Aid, Ghosts of an Old Movie Theater | Scouting NY".  <http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=1606>.  Accessed 9/27/2010.
  4. www.greenpointnews.com.  "Greenpoint Gazette:The heyday of theater in Greenpoint".  <http://www.greenpointnews.com/news/the-heyday-of-theater-in-greenpoint>.  Accessed 9/27/2010.
  5. www.cinematreasures.org.  "Cinema Treasures | Meserole Theater".  <http://cinematreasures.org/theater/4670/>.  Accessed 9/27/2010.

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