Art Theatre

1204 Vestal Avenue,
Binghamton, NY 13903

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Grand Theatre

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Art Theater. Mid 80s.

The 500-seat Grand Theatre was opened prior to 1926. On September 4, 1957 it was renamed Art Theatre. It went over to screening adult movies from the late-1960’s before returning to foreign & independent movies in December 1987. Destroyed by an electrical fire in February 2004.

Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

ManagerGreg on August 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I worked as the Assistant Manager at The Art from 1993 until 1997ish. I stayed on as the show promoter for the monthly playings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with full stage cast. The Art was one of THE BEST theatres I ever ran. When she died, it was running a 35mm for main films and a 1940’s era 16mm beast for the Rocky Horror print. The last owner brought in great live shows and one of the finest was John Lee Hooker. The Best Man at my wedding had his wedding ceremony on the auditorium stage. I was quite saddened to see the building die.

Also, in response to ‘academy133’ I was managing it as you walked by. I ran the projector for each of the titles you mentioned.

lalainthelibrary on February 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm

This is the independent theater that was brought to life in the wake of the original Art Theater’s demise.

lalainthelibrary on February 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm

My college apartment housemate worked at the concession/ticket counter when it was an X-rated adult film house. The projection booth was on a second floor level and was accessed by a stairway conected to an open catwalk that was attached to the front of the booth. On Thursday nights my housemate didn’t want to miss Mork and Mindy, so I would get on the bus with our portable tv, and go to the theater, so we could watch it together behind the candy counter. The refrigerator where employees kept their food was upstairs in the projection booth. When you walked across the catwalk you had to bend down and crouch-walk underneath the projection beam. We could always tell if we hadn’t stooped low enough because a collective groan would emminate from the house. Also, the clientele wasn’t what most people thought; they were mostly university students and traveling business men.

There was also something special about the projection equipment. I can’t remember specifically, but I think it was the oldest equipment still in operation in the US. A special repairman had to come down from Syracuse every time the projector broke down.

lalainthelibrary on February 25, 2014 at 9:30 pm

When the theater re-opened as an independent art house/ music venue, after its life as an X-rated theater, it was the first local theater to play Rocky Horror Picture Show with audience participation. I worked down the street at Vic’s Place: Fine Food and Drinks (Where the old Alamo restaurant was, which has now been demolished and a new building built that houses the Grande Italian restaurant), at that time, and the owner and most of our staff went together for the first showing, complete with props.

lalainthelibrary on March 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

The theater was originally called the Grand and was still being called that in 1951. I have posted artwork showing what the block looked like in 1951, in the photo section.

lalainthelibrary on March 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I saw The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, here in 1989.

BearODice on October 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm

I have such wonderful memories of this theatre for such a diversity of memories. It was the first adult theater I ever went to, and then later on it became a true art theater with independent and foreign cinema. Two of my more treasured memories of the Art Theatre are seeing blues guitarists Duke Robillard and John Lee Hooker, yes JOHN LEE HOOKER, at the Art Theatre. For someone born and raised in the Broome County are of upstate New York, this was an amazing place to create these memories at.

rivest266 on February 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

This opened as Art on September 4th, 1957. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

apchat on January 30, 2018 at 7:54 pm

I wrote for the BCC student paper & did an article about The Art’s revival, & saw a slew of movies there (inc. Rocky Horror). I forget the new owner’s name, but he also owned The Ritz & seemed like a nice guy. I went to school at St. John’s Catholic School blocks away, & at the time no one thought anything of the titles when The Art Cinema listed them on its marque! Today they’d be banned out of existence! The then-owner offered a friend who delivered newspapers there to come see an X movie, &, of all the dumb things I’ve ever done, I thought this was scandalous. (I was in jr. high, & I guess the Cath. school thing worked then! HA!) I was always intrigued by the “continuous showings from noon.” I never did understand how someone could not see a movie from the beginning. And, um, when did the showings end? Since Bing. showed “Deep Throat” (at The Strand first, I know) at this theater in the ‘80s (w/“Miss Jones”), what was that like? Any controversy? Big crowds? I’m curious about this history. Many thanks./Glenn

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