Hempstead Theatre

310 Fulton Street,
Hempstead, NY 11550

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Showing 1 - 25 of 48 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 25, 2015 at 9:39 pm

The Hempstead Theatre was built by the Rivoli Theatre Corporation. An ad offering stock in the company appeared in the February 10, 1921, issue of The Hempstead Sentinel (PDF here.) An item in the April 28, 1921, issue of Engineering News-Record revealed that the architects Reilly & Hall were originally connected with the project:

“N. Y., Hempstead—Theater and Stores— Rivoli Theater Corp., c/o Reilley & Hall, archts. and engrs., 405 Lexington Ave.. New York City, having sketches made for 2 story, 80 x 200 ft., brick and stone, concrete foundation, here. About $250,000.”
Although I’ve been unable to find any period source noting a change in architects from Reilly & Hall to Eugene DeRosa, neither have I found any later items mentioning Reilly & Hall in connection with the project, so it’s quite possible that either the owners (or Reilly & Hall themselves, if they were too busy) did hire DeRosa to do the final design.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 2, 2011 at 12:54 am

I did indeed notice that, rvb.

Here’s an image of the block where the Hempstead Theatre would eventually rise. In fact, according to the notes under this photo, there is a sign on the 2nd building from the left that announces the theatre to be built on that site. Unfortunately, you can’t zoom in on this image to see it for yourself.

Here’s another pic showing the theatre’s entrance and part of the canopy as it appeared in 1931/32. The data provided by the Hempstead Library on this photo dates it circa 1932. The title featured on the marquee opened in the USA on August 22, 1931, according to IMDB.COM.

These images were posted here earlier, but the links are no longer working.

robboehm on May 1, 2011 at 6:44 am

Ed, notice the seating pattern with the raised, stadium portion? Per our discussion of the Westbury.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

The following interior images are found on the excellent Long Island Librarry Resources Council’s Long Island Memories website – under the extensive Calderone Theatre collection of Hofstra University’s Library:

Slightly larger version of pic previously posted by Warren

View of proscenium and house from rear of loge

View of house from stage

Alt view of house from stage

Click on the images to zoom in and click on thumbnail image to move “red box” and change area of detail viewed in the larger image.

robboehm on January 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

It would be interesting to know if any of the interior decor of the theatre remains now that it’s become a church. DMV left the ceiling in tact, I know.

robboehm on March 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm

True, but it adds to the picture of in the day.

robboehm on March 14, 2009 at 11:21 am

When I did an advanced search on Hemstead Theatre there were only seven hits. Number 5 shows the theatre with the policemen already available, the preceeding one is entitled Fulton Avenue. The text mentions the sign on the building. This maybe too tricky to enlarge enough to actually see the sign and not worth the effort.

robboehm on March 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Warren could you also access the photo from the Long Island Memories site that has the sign stating on this site will be constructed the Hemptead Theatre. I came upon it just a few moments ago.

fred1 on March 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Was this theater was aka RKO holltwood ar Im thinking of 2 different theaters

dlm1201 on November 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

I worked as an usher at them Hempstead for a couple of years a teenager in the early 70’s. Many memories. It was an impressive structure, though falling apart by the time I got there. There was an old dressing room in the basement with a long row of mirrors, as if for the chorus people Upstairs, on either side of the stage, there were spiral staircases that had private dressing rooms off them, for the headliners, I suppose. During my tenure, the theatre went through several incarnations: black exploitation films, second run films, even a brief (but memorable) porn period. One summer day, the manager went out for a while and stupidly left me in charge. After a while, a patron came out from the theater to say it was smokey inside. Indeed it was: a fire in the basement! I went through the basement to explore (like I said, stupid) and only got far enough to close the fire doors on my way back out. Then I called the fire department. By this time, the smoke in the theater was thick, but the patrons stuck to their seats. I ran up to the projectionist, who had no idea what was happening (he was so old—so it seemed to me—that he probably couldn’t see much anyway) and told him to tun off the film. Then I ran down to the stage and announced that if they would please follow me to the lobby, I’d give everyone a free pass. The fire department had things under control quickly: the fire was from the belts on the air conditioner compressor. No big deal, really. I’ll never forget how people stayed in their seats, even though it was becoming difficult to see the screen. Must have been a porn film with a really excellent sound track.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Sorry… meant to say “was NOT”…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Hey Bloop… this theater was the Calderone Concert Hall. The Calderone Theater you’re thinking of has its own separate listing here on CT.

Bloop on May 22, 2007 at 11:47 pm

I saw DEVO at The Calderone Concert Hall, right BEFORE “Whip It” became a top ten hit.

RobertR on October 3, 2006 at 3:52 pm

Look at the size of this second run
View link

hotaru on July 14, 2006 at 10:09 pm

I grew up in the southernmost portion of the Village of Hempstead, right by the Southern State, and the blight has slowly but surely been working its way down. The neighborhood is still quiet, and our block still has a few of the old families left on it. I remember as a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s my sister and I were allowed to go on bus missions to the movies pretty much anywhere local EXCEPT to the theaters in Hempstead, our own hometown. Pity, but with good reason. So I never got to see a movie in any of the old theaters, and it’s so interesting reading these posts! My only memory of the Hempstead is waiting in line at the DMV, and marvelling at the beautiful ceiling, wondering what it must’ve looked like in its original incarnation. I can remember driving past the theaters
knowing I’d probably never, ever see the inside of these places. Thanks for your shared memories. Just about the only thing we did in the Village after a point was go to the A&S and DMV. The DMV had moved out of the Hempstead to a teeny little office next to the office where you’d go to pay parking tickets, and that’s gone now, too. Haven’t seen the inside of the Hempstead as a church. Has anyone else?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 30, 2006 at 10:20 am

The Hempstead is listed in this small block ad for RKO’s discount houses that ran in Newsday on 12/9/80:

80 cents at all times

RKO bought Century’s around this time and the brand was “RKO Century” for a few years.

danis on February 7, 2006 at 6:32 am

I’m wondering if anyone who has responded to this website and went to the Hempstead theater in the 50’s and 60’s and lived in my neighborhood, I lived on Warren Street in Uniondale near Hofstra University.

danis on November 12, 2005 at 5:19 pm

I grew up in Hempstead and have seen Chubby Checker at the Hempstead Theater, in fact, my sister and her friends were called up to the stage to dance with him. Also, my friend and I used to sit up in the balcony with peashooters when, all of a sudden, you heard “OW!!!” I’ve grown up a lot since then.

HenryK on September 21, 2005 at 2:32 pm

Hempstead was sweet.
On most Sundays my dad and I would walk from our apartment at 54 Greenwich St (then called the Colony House) and see a movie at the Hempstead or Calderone or Rivoli (my favorite).
This was in the late 50’s and early 60’s (no later than 1963).
Hempstead underwent its first round of well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless “urban renewal” in the early 60’s …that precipitated the end of Little Main Street and Town Hall Park.
We moved from Hempstead on Halloween night 1963 and with the exception of maybe my high school graduation (West Hempstead) at the Calderone in 1972…I don’t remember ever visiting those theaters of my childhood again.

RobertR on July 27, 2005 at 9:01 am

Which Hempstead theatre used to advertise itself as “Calderone 2”?

RobertR on July 5, 2005 at 7:41 pm

In 1977 this was listed as Pacific’s Hempstead
View link

mascan42 on April 11, 2005 at 1:14 am

I recently went to that new DMV office … I was shocked at how small it was, considering how large the other DMV offices on Long Island are. The line literally went out the door and down the block.

Vito on February 25, 2005 at 5:08 pm

As a projectionist for over 40 years both in New York, New Jersey and Hawaii, I can tell we are under no legal obligation to show a movie if no one shows up. In addition there is no case for legal action if the movie starts early. Of course people will try and sue over the craziest things so it is quite possible someone tried.
I have heard, as RobertR stated, some theatres will start shows with the trailers a bit early, especially those late night (midnight shows), but the feature should never start before the scheuled time.

RobertR on February 25, 2005 at 4:29 pm

Many times if only 2 or 3 people showed up to see a fim we would ask them if they wanted passes for another night. This was mainly in the single screen houses. In the multi-screen theatres I managed we usually just ran the shows. The funny thing is sometimes people would not want to sit in such an empty house and were usally always willing to take passes. My friend Flo used to manage the Main Street Cinemas and at the time they were a twin. One side was showing this awful shlock fim (the type that goes straight to video nowadays). It had something to do with people in a hot air balloon if I recall. Well, nobody showed up for this movie all week, not a soul. One other thing, when it was real slow we would never start the feature early but we would start the trailers early so the feature hit the screen exactly at the time that was listed.

rcdt55b on February 25, 2005 at 2:28 pm

This question just came up the other day. I don’t know if there is a law thats states that the show must be shown. I was told that there is a law that you can not start the show earlier than the scheduled time. Again, I don’t know if it is true or not but supposedly someone sued because the the feature started before the scheduled time. In all of the theaters I have worked in, we would never run the show if it was empty.