Art Theater

1077 Springfield Avenue,
Irvington, NJ 07111

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Independent Theater Service Inc., Island Theater Circuit

Functions: Community Center, Senior Center

Previous Names: Liberty Theater

Nearby Theaters

Art Theater

A small second run house, the Liberty Theater became a true art house in the late-1950’s, then ended its days as a porno house before being turned into a senior citizens community center in the late-1970’s.

Contributed by jim thatcher

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

teecee on April 24, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Listed in the 1951 FDY at 1077 Springfield Avenue with 702 seats.

teecee on June 30, 2005 at 9:49 am

Closed in 1978. Previous name: Art Theatre

The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), Oct 16, 2002 p021
Irvington senior center is getting a new look. (ESSEX)


Retiree Victoria Cwikla says she’s enjoyed coming to the same downtown Irvington address to socialize for years.

From the days when 1077 Springfield Ave. was the popular Liberty movie theater, later the Art Theatre, and since 1978, the Irvington Senior Citizen Center, Cwikla says the place has been a home away from home.

Now, with the help of $119,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds, major exterior and interior renovations – expected to last through next spring – are under way this week.

That renovation news, coupled with township officials announcing a new and no-cost prescription drug discount program for all residents and municipal employees, has put a smile on the face of the 78-year-old Cwikla, as well as others who use the center. “It’s going to be nice when it’s finished, I’m pretty sure,” Cwikla, a retired waitress, said after seeing an artist’s rendering of how the 1913 building’s exterior will look once it’s completed.

“It’s been long needed in this town,” added Jack Slansky, another of among 500 Irvington seniors who visit the center to chat with friends, play table games and shoot pool.

The exterior changes – expected to take about 60 days to include replacing the aging and leaking entrance marquee with a more stylish and sweeping canopy; installing fabric awnings on the second level of the building; creating more distinguished signs; making the entrance doors higher, wider and accessible to individuals with disabilities; and installing a new sidewalk.

The interior renovation – scheduled to begin early next year and to be completed next spring – will include creating a new vestibule; installing new floor tiles, new lighting, improved heating, air conditioning and ventilation; replacing dated books in the library, redesigning the recreation room and administrative office area; and creating space for hairdressers and barbers.

While the interior reconstruction and remodeling work is done, the seniors will be relocated to a temporary site, officials said.

“It’ll be terrific and even get more seniors to come here,” Slansky said of the planned renovations at the center.

Charlotte Galla agreed, saying, “It’s been a long time coming. It’s great to see. It’s fantastic.”

As for the new prescription drug plan, Irvington and the Garden State Pharmacy Owners Provider Services Corp. in Rochelle Park have developed a public-private partnership that’s the first of its kind in the state, according to Mayor Wayne Smith.

Until now, no other New Jersey municipality has partnered with the pharmacy group to provide comprehensive benefits for its residents and municipal employees, Smith said.

“This service enhances existing coverage of the insured and provides access to those without insurance,” the mayor said. Now, every citizen will have the opportunity to meet one of life’s most basic necessities."

“Those who don’t have (union or job-related) prescription benefits automatically quality for this program,” said Thomas Viola, the pharmacy group’s executive vice president.

Participation in the program will allow consumers to save 10 percent to 50 percent off prescription drugs, Viola said.

After filling out an enrollment form and mailing it into the firm, a “Premium Rx Plus” card will be mailed within seven to 10 days. Users then can go to any one of the pharmacy group’s 55,000 independent and chain pharmacy participants around the nation, including several in Irvington, Viola said.

In Irvington, Viola said, the participating pharmacies include Abels Pharmacy on Grove Street; Briar Hill Pharmacy on Union Avenue; Camp Drugs Inc. on 18th Avenue; Springview Pharmacy on Springfield Avenue; United Pharmacy Inc. on Springfield Avenue; three Rite Aid pharmacies; and the former Schraft’s Pharmacy recently bought by Duane Reade Pharmacy on Springfield Avenue.

Applications can be picked up in the Irvington Municipal Building and at senior citizen complexes in the township. They will not be available at participating pharmacies.


  1. Ken Igou, left, and William Matiash play chess on Friday at the Irvington Senior Center, which is being remodeled with the help of federal funds.


Article CJ92967779

hollister22nh on July 7, 2005 at 10:34 am

A recent imagine…

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This is a huge improvement! Formerly this building was faced in plywood.


Jerseygirl4159 on February 20, 2006 at 5:47 am

I grew up in Irvington and graduated IHS in 1977. Boy, do I remember the Art Theater. When I was about 13, coming home from Irvington Center, we used to run by the Art Theater really fast because the male ticket collector was an perverted old man who used to make comments to us every time we walked by. The place really creeped me out as a kid. I didn’t quite understand what the whole porno thing was at that age; but the way my mother explained it, it was a movie theater that showed “dirty” movies. The only people me and my friends ever saw going in and out of there were men, mostly older. I was glad to see that it became a senior citizen center in the late 70’s.

teecee on March 2, 2006 at 1:24 am

Listed as the Art Theater and part of Hallmark Releasing Corp in the 1976 International Motion Picture Almanac. Also listed as open, as the Liberty, in the 1944 Film Daily Yearbook.

teecee on March 2, 2006 at 3:47 am

Listed as the Art Theater and part of Island Theatre Circuit in the 1961 Film Daily Yearbook.

teecee on May 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Old photo as the Art Cinema:

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absman22 on March 21, 2012 at 6:53 am

I remember being a kid back in the 1990’s walking pass this place, and telling my mom that the senior citizen home looks like an old movie theatre, and she thought so too. My family moved to Irvington in 1982 so the theater was gone by then. My aunt who was a teenager back then told me her and her friends hung out at “The Castle” on Clinton at the beginning of Irvington Center. I had no idea that this was a movie theatre for porn in it’s later years! lol

MarqueeGuy on July 16, 2022 at 10:14 am

I have fond memories of the Art Cinema, in all it’s porn glory.

In the late sixties while still in my late teens, my Dad got me the job of putting up the marquee letters each week for it’s XXX movies. I got paid $25 cash by the theater manager, Jerry, who was a nice portly fellow and always friendly to me.

My Dad, a local sign painter, had the job of creating clean, word-only, flourescent color versions of the posters that hung in the glass cases outside the theater every week.

I would arrive, get the titles from the manager and then walk through the theater while the films were running, to a tiny room under the screen where the large plastic letters were kept. Then, I’d grab what I needed in a box and head back up the main aisle past the patrons and out the front door where I’d set up a tall A-frame ladder and get to work spelling out the movie titles. Occasionally, a letter would fall and shatter on the sidewalk. Sometimes there wasn’t enough correct letters and I’d have to get creative, like adding a ‘5’ for a missing ’S'.

When I was done (maybe 45 minutes or an hour later), the manager would always invite me to relax, have some popcorn and sit in the back row to watch the movies. It was a real education and saved my Dad from having to explain the facts of life that I wasn’t already familiar with.

Occasionally, a few Irvington Fire Department members would show up, on the pretense of needing to check fire extinguisher expiration dates and to generally check for any fire code issues. Then they’d stand in the back and watch the movie for a bit.

After my stint there ended, I remember reading in the papers about how the theater manager Jerry, was arrested for trying to abscond with embezzled theater funds. That was the end of the Art Cinema as I knew it. Years later, it became the senior citizen center that it still is today.

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