4943-5 Prospect Avenue,
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Styles: Spanish Renaissance
Previous Names: Ocaso Theatre, Bijou Theatre
The Ocaso Theatre was a new-build facility launching April 30, 1927 with Bert Lytell in “The First Night” and Harry W. Frank at the Kilgen Pipe Organ with a six-piece orchestra and supported by a Felix, the Cat cartoon, a newsreel and a Technicolor short. Operated by Superior Theatres Circuit, its moniker was “Where your entertainment and comfort are assured”. The “manufactured weather” and upholstered seating didn’t hurt this claim. Ambitiously starting with 900 seats and promising a balcony with additional seating if it were needed, the theatre’s pricing policy didn’t meet with the neighborhood expectations and closed quickly after a show on December 27, 1927 with Dolores Del Rio in “Loves of Carmen”.
In 1928, Denny Costello of the former Bijou Theatre at 7 E. 5th Street was given a ten-year lease on the Ocaso Theatre with $400 a month rental for the first part of that contract. Costello decided to rename it the Bijou Theatre. Costello’s old Bijou Theatre had run continuous programming from 9am to 11pm but would operate the neighborhood operation with reduced hours. The New Bijou Theatre launched August 10, 1928 with Dorothy Revier as “The Tigress”. But Costello apparently didn’t have the capital to convert the theatre to sound and the venue was taken on by the Dickinson Quality Theatre Circuit.
The Bijou Theatre relaunched with a Grand Opening on November 30, 1930 with Western Electric Sound and improvements including a cry room and reduced seating capacity to 750. Dickinson also opted for double features though opened with only Constance Bennet in “Common Clay”. Three time bombs rocked the building despite the theatre’s statement that it used union projectionists. The theatre continued undaunted with Dickinson running it to the end of lease.
The Bijou Theatre closed January 30, 1949 and received a remodeling under new operator, Carl K. Fiorella. It relaunched as the Linda Theatre on February 4, 1949 as a sub-run discount house showing Abbott and Costello in “Hang ‘em High”, Dana Andrews in “Belle Star”, a news reel and four cartoons with a Bugs Bunny and a Popeye. The Linda Theatre closed on September 28, 1952 with Bowery Boys in “Crazy Over Horses” & Dana Andrews in “I Want You”.
The venue became known as Painters Hall in 1954 through 1971 hosting various union meetings. An extension of the Bruce R. Watkins Memorial Drive and the U.S. 71 project led to demolition of the building.
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