The paid ads, for the August 26th, 1914 opening of the Universal movie theatre, were lost amidst the newspaper coverage of a new playhouse.
Excitement had been mounting since it was first announced in 1912 that B.F.Keith's had purchased property on 9th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, New York.
Now final preparations were underway for the September 7th, 1914 opening of their Prospect Theatre, "the largest vaudeville palace in Greater New York."
No one seem to pay much attention to a new movie house opening in a neighborhood already crowded with such shows.
An attractive little theatre, featuring an Italianate exterior complete with fake balcony, the Universal was a step above
It was built by the Orpheus Amusement Company who added an airdome, designed by Thomas Bennett, in May of 1915.
The Universal offered silent films with four acts of vaudeville. How could these small timers hope to compete with likes of Houdini and the Marx Brothers playing at the Prospect?
The comedian Henny Youngman used to talk of going to the Prospect as a youngster. He also recalled making his stage debut at the Universal as part of a fake amateur contest (it was a packaged show with the runners-up and the winner pre-selected). No date given but circa 1920.
In 1921, the theatre was sold to Max Pear who renamed it the 16th Street Theatre. He also made it smaller, cutting seating down from 572 to 490.
This was one of three theatres operated by Pear in Park Slope during the 1920s. He also purchased the Avon on 9th Street and built the Garfield on 5th Avenue.
Seating Capacity: 572, later 490
166 16th Street,
Brooklyn, New York
Conditions at the 16th Street theatre declined overtime. It became a furniture warehouse after closing on July 1, 1951. Despite an office being built in one section of the interior, the movie house remained largely intact.
Along the walls of the auditorium, crumbling statues stood waiting for the audience to return (click to enlarge).
A plumbing supply company were the final tenants. They sold the space to a developer in 2004 who quickly tore it down for condos.
The newspapers seem to be unaware of the old theatre's existance. It was simply stated that a building on 16th Street, in Park Slope, had been demolished.
The opening of the Universal in 1914 failed to generate much interest. The same was true in the end.