Kings Theatre (Brooklyn)
|Owner||New York City Economic Development Corporation|
|Production||ACE Theatrical Group|
|Architect||Martinez & Johnson (restoration)|
Loew's Kings Theatre,
|Location||1027 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, New York City
|Architect||Rapp and Rapp|
|Architectural style||French Baroque movie palace|
|NRHP Reference #||12000534|
|Added to NRHP||August 22, 2012|
The Kings Theatre, formerly Loew's Kings Theatre, is a movie palace-type theater located at 1027 Flatbush Avenue in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. Opened in 1929 and closed since 1977, the theater is scheduled to reopen in 2015 following a complete renovation. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 22, 2012.
Loew's Kings Theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Rapp and Rapp. The interior decor was designed by Harold W. Rambusch. It was built and operated by the Loew's Theatres chain, and was one of the five "Loew's Wonder Theatres" in the New York metropolitan area. This 3,676 seat house originally presented shows that combined movies and live vaudeville. It opened September 7, 1929 with a program that included the film Evangeline, a live stage show, orchestra and solo pipe organ. The film's star, Dolores del Rio made a special live appearance. With the decline of vaudeville, however, the theater soon converted to showing feature films only.
Located in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood near Beverly Road, the lavish theater was designed in the Rapp Brothers' signature French-influenced baroque style. The unusually spacious theater boasts superb sight-lines, with the majority of its seats located on the main floor. Instead of a large balcony, the Kings has only a small mezzanine, allowing the entire elegant design to be viewed from anywhere in the auditorium. It has a sweeping staircase in the lobby that leads to the mezzanine.
Many celebrities who grew up in Brooklyn and went to area high schools worked as ushers at Loew's Kings. Among them were Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler. Ben Vereen danced on the stage at the Kings, where his mother was working. After closing, the theater was subject of a film documentary, Memoirs of a Movie Palace.
On August 30, 1977 the Loew's Kings closed. Its final film was Islands in the Stream with George C. Scott. After the time of its closing, when its lavish 1929 interior was almost completely intact, the shuttered theater slowly deteriorated. Extensive physical damage was sustained to the Kings's interior as a result of decades of neglect, water damage and vandalism. The roof was belatedly repaired in 2007 to halt further deterioration. It has been owned by the City of New York since 1979.
After having been the object of numerous proposals for its restoration over the past thirty years, the Kings Theatre is now undergoing a complete renovation. The City of New York announced the plan on February 2, 2010 with a goal of returning the theatre to use as a performing arts center by 2014. The $93 million renovation is being completed in partnership with a private developer, ACE Theatrical Group of Houston. ACE has previously overseen major restorations of a number of historic theaters including the Boston Opera House. The plans call for the Kings's interior spaces to be restored to their 1929 appearance. Its stage facilities are to be completely rebuilt to modern standards, accommodating some 250 performances a year. Restoration work in the auditorium and lobby was underway and nearing completion in late 2014.
When the Loew's Kings Theatre opened it was equipped with a Robert Morton theatre pipe organ. The instrument contained 23 ranks of pipes played on an elaborately decorated four manual console, one of Robert Morton's "Wonder Morton" designs, installed in all the Loew's Wonder Theatres. The organ was popular with audiences and was featured in performances between film showings. The organ remained in good condition and was played one last time in 1974 prior to its being removed and donated by the Loew's company to New York City's Town Hall. The instrument was never reinstalled however, and most of its pipes and works disappeared while in storage. In 1998, the lavish console was rebuilt for use with a comparable pipe organ in a private home in Wheaton, Illinois.
The Van der Molen family sent a "Deed of Gift" for their now 4/26 Wonder Morton to the New York Theatre Organ Society (NYTOS) on July 13, 2011. In 2013 the organ was removed from the family's home and placed in storage where it awaits a return to the restored Kings Theatre. The organ now belongs to NYTOS who has entered into an agreement with ACE, the Kings's developer and management company, to install the organ and loan it for use in the theater. This would return the Wonder Morton console to its original home along with an instrument enlarged by three additional ranks. NYTOS is currently raising funds for restoration of the instrument, while ACE is looking into the possibility of reinstalling the organ sometime in the future. However, due to structural changes made in the theater during its renovation, it was reported in October, 2014 that this may no longer be possible. 
- Dunlap, David (6 November 2013). "Giving Old Loew’s Theater in Brooklyn a Second Chance". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 8/20/12 through 8/24/12". 24 August 2012. National Park Service. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Gray, Christopher. "The Kings Is Dead! Long Live the Kings!", New York Times Accessed 11 March 2007
- The film Evangeline was based on the poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
- Sulzberger, A.G. (February 2, 2010). "At a Neglected Movie Palace, Cobwebs Are Given Notice". New York Times.
- Stango, Nick (September 13, 2013). "Inside the Restoration of Brooklyn's Glamorous Temple of Cinema". Gizmodo.
- Alberts, Hana R. (28 May 2014). "See the Amazing Restoration of Flatbush's 1920s Movie Palace". Curbed NYC (Vox Media Inc.). Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "Loew's Kings Theatre". New York City Organ Project. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- "Van Der Molen 4/26 Robert Morton". wheatonfox.com. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- "Welcome to the Former Wheaton Fox Studio". Linda Van Der Molen. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
- Jaeger, Max (October 17, 2014). "Kings Organ Controversy". The Brooklyn Paper.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kings Theater (Brooklyn, New York).|
- Page for Loew's Kings Theatre at the Cinema Treasures website
- NYC Economic Development Corp - Loews Kings Theatre Restoration Project
- New York Times - Restoration of Loew’s Kings Theater Slideshow
- Brooklyn Eagle - Loew's Kings To Be Transformed Into ‘Wonder Theater’ Once Again
- 2011 Photos of Kings Theater by Matt Lambros