Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ridgewood Theatre Supermarket? Crucial Effort To Spare Rare Interior Architecture By Thomas Lamb!

The now landmarked Ridgewood Theatre facade is a classic from its 1916 Vaudeville days, but the ornate interior is now in jeopardy of demolition. Theaters were designed as a complete package, so don't surrender the goods!

The ornate lobby featuring angelic muses, domes, and a grand staircase.

Cameos featuring angels playing instruments, and more Greek Revival detail, adorns the lobby and other parts of this theatrical treasure!

Ridgewood Theatre auditorium's rare Adamesque balconies in April 2010 after multiplexing removal. A treasure was rediscovered, but could be demolished shortly without creative adaptive reuse. This is near the rare backlit proscenium. Note the prominent columns, balustrades, ornamental detail on the underside of the balcony, and the figurines. Photo by Sam Goldman, Times NewsWeekly

Ridgewood Theatre medallion and moldings on ceiling in auditorium in April 2010 after multiplexing removal. A treasure was rediscovered, but remains endangered. This is only a fraction of the ornate detail that merits salvation. Be a visionary! Photo by Robert Pozarycki, Times NewsWeekly

This is a very significant issue that extends beyond Forest Hills and Rego Park, and reflects the endangerment of our citywide cornerstones at large; in this case, our theaters. Please read the following and help. Also, join the Facebook Group for Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, and invite your friends to join as well.

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre has learned that plans to convert the Ridgewood Theatre (55-27 Myrtle Ave) to a performing arts center have failed after the owners gave up, and have sold it to franchisee Tony Guzman of Associated Supermarket. All hope is not abandoned, and we feel the need for a compromise. We are in the process of calling for a meeting with the new owner. 

We respectfully request the owner to:

1. Preserve and restore the theater's rare 1916 interior Adamesque architecture by America's foremost theater architect Thomas Lamb, such as a rare backlit proscenium, balustrades, and ornate plaster detail in the auditorium (treasures unveiled after multiplex removal), as well as angelic muses, domes, and a grand staircase in the lobby;

2. Utilize funding opportunities such as historic grants and tax credits, if the interior was creatively adaptively reused rather than demolished, along the lines of other sites locally and citywide that underwent a successful parallel conversion. Case studies include theater and bank sites;

 3. Be receptive of concerns of the greater community, and realize the extensive history reflected in remaining site features, and also realize the great rapport he will gain if working cooperatively with locals, preservation groups, and elected officials;

4. Lease at least 2 floors as community and performance spaces, to reflect the building's potential, and the adjacent neighborhoods' growing arts community, while boosting revenue at the site.

We won landmark status for the facade in January 2010, but the interior's rare ornate features dating to its Vaudeville & silent film days merit preservation most significantly. For questions, advice, and to volunteer given the theater's newly endangered status, please e-mail

Ridgewood Theatre facade designation report
Landmarking Petition Drive
Join the Facebook Group for the Ridgewood Theatre!
Ridgewood Theatre interior & facade photos on Flickr

Thank you,

-Michael Perlman

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, Chair
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair
Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, Queens VP
Queens Preservation Council & Central Queens Historical Association, Bd. of Dir.


  1. Good luck! Read about that in the Daily News yesterday, so sad to see that.

  2. Kudos! Thank you for trying to arrange a meeting with the owner. It would be a crime to tear down the building behind the theatre facade. It should be repaired. Grants would be wonderful. That would be cheaper than tearing it down for a new big box store. The inner detail of this theatre is magnificent. In Europe and in other states, it would be saved. Build Associated someplace else. Don't we have enough food shops? Why pick on a historic movie palace?

  3. Michael Perlman, Chair of Friends of The Ridgewood TheatreDecember 2, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    PETITION DRIVE! The Ridgewood Theatre facade has Landmark status, but Architect Thomas Lamb's 1916 interior exhibiting RARE Adamesque details i.e. a backlit proscenium, angelic figurines & muses, etc. merit preservation, re-use, & funding prospects. It may become a supermarket & undergo demolition. Please sign & comment on the petition, & pitch it to your friends: