Patio Theatre

574 Flatbush Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11225

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Century Theaters

Architects: John J. McNamara, William Rau, R. Thomas Short

Styles: Spanish Moorish

Nearby Theaters

Patio Theatre

The Patio Theatre was supposed to be the crown jewel of the Century Theaters circuit, and was the largest and most luxurious by the company’s usual architect-designer team of R. Thomas Short and William Rau. The highly gilded and ornamented auditorium was described as “Old World Spanish”. The ceiling had an octagonal dome at the center, hung with a chandelier equipped with special lighting effects. The theatre took its name from a spacious patio in the center of the lobby. Surrounded by white marble columns, it had a large, three-tier fountain and reflecting pool.

The Patio Theatre first opened on November 2, 1928, with John Barrymore’s silent “The Tempest” on screen and a musical program featuring the theatre’s resident orchestra, conducted by Howard Emerson, and the Kimball organ, played by Emil Velazco. The Patio Theatre did not present vaudeville due to nearby competition from three theatres that did–the Flatbush Theatre, Kenmore Theatre and Albemarle Theatre.

In another year, Loew’s Kings Theatre would join that group, so the Patio Theatre would never prosper, even after the decline of vaudeville. The Kings Theatre and RKO Kenmore Theatre became the leaders for the Flatbush area, with the Patio Theatre playing its movies several weeks behind them. The theatre benefited from the WWII attendance boom, but went into a decline afterwards and was hard hit by the arrival of home TV. It underwent a remodel in 1948 to the plans of architect John J. McNamara.

Century Theatres gave up on the Patio Theatre and leased it to the cheapjack Springer Circuit, which tried a policy of double-feature foreign movies before giving up. The Patio Theatre was sold for demolition and replaced by an apartment building in 1960 or thereabouts.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

RobertR on August 31, 2005 at 3:42 pm

What an incredible place, Century’s never had anything even close to this as far as opulence goes. Thanks Warren for those pictures.

robboehm on October 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

Century advertised the Patio, singularly in the mainstream NY papers when they had stage shows. As a child I remember seeing an ad for Joey Adams. Only in later years did I know who he was so that must have been early in his career.

robboehm on October 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

Just looked at the exterior photos. A double vertical. Wow!

johndereszewski on October 15, 2011 at 5:44 pm

The Nrooklyn Yheatre Index references a 1958 closing date and prints a notice “to our patrons”, dated October 31 of that year, that regretfully announces the closure and offers a free pass to the neighboring Linden and Midwood Theatres …… It is interesing that a theater as ornate as the Patio has received so litte xommentary on CT. (It would be great if someone would re-link the old pictures of the place that have been lost) …… Since, unlike the King and the Kenmare, the Patio was not situated in the busy Flatbush/Chauch Avenuw commercial district, it would always have been at a financial disadvantage to them.

robboehm on May 20, 2016 at 4:09 am

Uploaded a bunch of photos circa 1929 found on Flikrriver attributed to CharlotteZoe.

ellliot on July 18, 2016 at 5:54 am

I was born 1947 on Lincoln rd and flatbush ave just around the corner from the Patio and in the lobby there was a round tiled water fountain filled with goldfish each time I went to see a movie with my older brother I stuck my hand in it to catch a fish but by brother always stopped me! I loved that little pond .

on the sie of the building in the alley was the fireexit staircase going all the way up to the top I used to walk up to the top for the view I was about 5 years old and there was a little window at the top next to the exit door, one day the window was open about 6 inched and on the sill was light bulbs I pulled them out and dropped them into the alley like a bomb and listen to the explosion sound that was so much fun!

I moved away in 1952 to Sheepshead bay and the the Theater there had an old lady called the “Maiden” who would kick me out of the middle section and made me sit on the side area

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm

The “old lady” at the Sheepshead was probably called “matron,” not “maiden.” In those days, cinemas were required to employ a matron licensed by the city to supervise a section where children had to sit if they were unaccompanied by an adult. The so-called “children’s sections” were only open on non-school days, and in some cases, for a few hours after schools closed for the day.

Harvey_Fishman on October 14, 2017 at 10:21 am

I remember during the 1950s the Patio used to have a kids Saturday Afternoon show with vaudeville acts, a bunch of cartoons, and a movie. It was quite a walk as I lived near The Parade Grounds, but it was worth it.

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