Newtown Theatre

91-11 Corona Avenue,
Elmhurst, NY 11373

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Circuit, Interboro Circuit Inc., Island Theater Circuit, Small-Strausberg Circuit

Functions: Church

Previous Names: Victoria Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Newtown Theatre

The theatre was originally known as the Victoria Theatre and first opened in 1916, built from the profits from an outdoor nickelodeon that operated for years (weather permitting) on vacant land across the street. The plainly decorated auditorium had two sections of seats with a middle aisle. The stageless screen was flat against the back wall. Toilets were at both sides of the projection booth, reached by narrow staircases. Within ten years, the Victoria Theatre literally became an “itch” and was forced to close for a sanitary renovation. It was operated by the Small-Strausberg Circuit.

To celebrate the re-opening, the owners changed the theatre’s name to the Newtown Theatre, in honor of nearby Newtown High School, whose students were its most frequent patrons. The Newtown Theatre was never more than a showcase for late-run double features, with program changes twice a week. Located near shops and eateries, as well as the Durkee’s spice factory, it did good business. In the late-1930’s, it was taken over by the Island Circuit, which sold it in 1946 to the expanding Interboro Circuit.

Interboro had just bought Emhurst’s other theatre, the much larger and grander Queensboro Theatre, and treated both to modernization. The Queensboro Theatre was re-named the Elmwood Theatre, but played the same programs as the Newtown Theatre, though not on the same days. In 1949, the Elmwood Theatre was upgraded to first-run for the area, but the Newtown Theatre was too small to qualify and remained a late-run house until closure in the early-1950’s as yet another victim of TV competition.

After a long period of closure, it became a church, but at a viewing several years ago, it seemed to be converted to a warehouse. It has now reverted back to church use.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

tedchang on January 2, 2008 at 12:56 pm

A current picture of the theater is available at:
View link

Rollingrck on October 9, 2010 at 11:05 am

A shot of the theatre in 1948 from ebay

View link

johndereszewski on October 23, 2010 at 8:20 am

That’s a really great shot of the old movie house. Since both “That Magnificent Urge” and “Belle Starr’s Daughter” premiered in November 1948, the picture probably dates to the Spring of 1949, when both films probably reached this second run theater.

Regarding the source of the theater’s name, I would guess that the Newtown took the name of the community that became Elmhurst a little over 100 years ago. As the story goes, real estate magnate Cord Meyer, who was developing this community, thought that the name Newtown would be unfavorably associated with the already severely polluted Newtown Creek. And wallah, Elmhurst was born. This was somewhat of a pity since Newtown was one of Queens' original towns and had once included much of the western portion of the borough. Remnants of old Newtown, including an old church yard, can be found only a few blocks from the theater, and groups like the Newtown Historical Society keep the history of the old town alive.

Finally, TT is absolutely right that Queens has never hosted a neighborhood called Elmwood. The Elmwood theater was, I believe, named after the very seperate communities of Elmhurst and Woodside.

johndereszewski on October 23, 2010 at 11:29 pm

TT, you are right, and I did get my “woods” mixed up. Clearly, it makes a lot more sense to look at Woodhaven Blvd. – rather than the more remote Woodside community – as the sourse of the Elmwood’s name. For some reason, I just blanked out this from my mind when I wrote my last post. Anyway, thanks for correcting this one point.

RickB on October 24, 2010 at 6:54 am

Ya gotta love the “TELEVISION” sign right across from the theater in the 1948/9 shot. Holy foreshadowing, Batman!

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 29, 2019 at 8:56 am

Affiliated with the Interboro Theatres circuit in 1948 ad displayed here

robboehm on October 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm

As the Victoria it was listed as one of the participants in a special exhibiting event in the September 1920 Paramount Week. I have uploaded a photo of that notice.

michaelkaplan on February 5, 2023 at 12:03 pm

The streetcar is neat, too. By the time I moved to Queens in 1948, streetcars were gone, but the tracks remained on some of the streets.

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