Historic Ridgewood Theatre, oldest theatre in country, houses treasures amid ruins

BY Nicholas Hirshon
DAILY NEWS WRITER

*This article has been taken from the NY Daily News Web site. Read more here.

The nation’s oldest continuously operated movie theater – now shuttered for two years – may offer more historic treasures than originally thought, the Daily News has learned.

Exclusive photographs obtained by The News show that the historic Ridgewood Theatre, though largely deteriorated, still bears gems from its heyday, from an aging projector to wooden armrests.

Snapped by a local rubbish remover, the images offer a rare glimpse inside the Myrtle Ave. mainstay, whose interior condition has been largely unknown since it closed in 2008.

The News first reported last month that the theater is set to be transformed into an Associated supermarket next year.

The photos show much of the theater is beyond saving, but some carvings, seats and other aspects seem intact. That could lead to new concerns about preserving the Ridgewood or rescuing artifacts.

“There’s little, tiny things that are lying around,” said rubbish remover Nick DiMola, who snapped the pictures when called to estimate cleanup costs in July.

The city declared the Beaux-Arts structure a landmark in January, crediting The News for alerting city officials to the site.

Landmarking bars major alterations on the facade, but the protective status does not extend to the interior.

It’s unclear how Associated will renovate the five-screen theater. Max Figueredo, a lawyer for the new owners, said he did not know their plans.

Preservationists applied for interior landmark status in 2008, but the city is “very selective” with interior landmarks, designating only 110, said Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Queens boasts only a handful of interior landmarks, which must be regularly open to the public, including the RKO Keith‘s movie theater in Flushing and the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport.

DiMola said he will post all his photos within the next week on his blog, WeLoveGarbage.wordpress.com.

Ted Renz of the Myrtle Ave. Business Improvement District said he hopes the theater would be adaptively reused, but added that option may not be economically viable.

“There are artifacts particularly in the lobby that are still intact, but I don’t know the cost that would be involved,” Renz said.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2010/12/08/2010-12-08_movie_house_relics_treasure_amid_ridgewood_ruins.html#ixzz17eiCVPzI


One Response to “Historic Ridgewood Theatre, oldest theatre in country, houses treasures amid ruins”

  1. I love when Nicky finds these rare finds… he calls me like an excited kid to share his good fortune. I operate Macaluso Realty in Queens and whenever my clients need a cleanout – DiMola is the “go to” guy. Wait until he sees the next cleanout job I have for him… he will “flip out”. This house had so much “junk”, it would take weeks for the owners to clear it out.

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