When the Essex Theatre Entertained the Masses on Grand Street [HISTORY]

Posted on: July 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am by and

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Photo: Scheme RFA

Today, the low-rise strip of Grand Street retail just east of Essex is predominantly home to a healthy mix of businesses. Both old and new, establishments such as Kossar’s Bialys, Doughnut Plant, and Pizza a Casa cater to tourists and locals alike. But many moons ago, this Seward Park retail complex housed the Essex Theatre.

And it’s nearly been forgotten.

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Grand opening, circa 1962

Built by architect William Kohn, the single-screen movie house at 375 Grand Street opened in 1962. According to Cinema Treasures, the 600-seat theater booked first-run action, horror, and Kung Fu flicks. Its heyday was in the late-seventies and early-eighties.

What’s incredible, though, is that few public photos exist of the building exterior during its prime. Almost like it never even existed. One Boogie reader, and former patron, notes that the Essex Theatre was considered a gore venue; basically not worthy of documentation besides show listings. People thought of it in the same vein as a porn theatre. The image above is an artist rendering of the site by Scheme RFA.

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Today the onetime theater is occupied by the CenterLight medical center.

What movies did you see at the Essex?

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