Sunday, August 27, 2017

A New Life for a Historic Building

The Park Theatre building, at 723 Warren Street, has a new owner, Shanan Magee, who has undertaken the stabilization of the building (it was declared "Dangerous and Unsafe" by the code enforcement officer in April 2014) and is committed to restoring the building to the way it looked in 1921 when it first opened as a movie house. 

Along with stabilizing the building, Magee is trying to piece together its history, which is turning out to be not such an easy task. One thing critical to restoring the building's facade is a picture of the building as it was when it was a theater, and so far none has been found. This appeal is being made to readers: If you have a historic picture of the Park Theatre, 723 Warren Street, or know anyone who might, please contact Gossips

In the search for the building's history, Gossips is lending a hand and last night found an article that appeared in the Columbia Republican for May 3, 1921--six days before the theater opened. The article goes into intriguing detail about the interior of the building, but sadly there were no pictures accompanying it.

Hudson's fourth motion picture theatre--the Park Theatre--will open the latter part of next week if the present plans are followed. However, Thursday it was impossible to definitely fix the day as this must depend upon the amount of work which can be accomplished in the meantime. It had been the intention to open the theatre on Thursday next. This yet may be date otherwise it will be a day or two later. [Note: The Columbia Republican was a weekly newspaper, published on Tuesday. "Thursday next" would have been May 5. We know that the Park Theatre opened on May 9, which was a Monday.]
The new theatre is practically completed and Hudson lovers of motion pictures are to be most agreeably surprised by the cozyness and attractiveness of this little amusement palace. Only the finishing touches are yet to be applied by the mechanics so that there will be no material changes now.
The theatre will seat about 500 persons. There are orchestra seats in rows of four on each side while the great portion of the seats are in the center of the auditorium. The floor has been pitched so that it will be possible is look over the head of the person in the seat ahead from every part of the house.
The theatre is absolutely fire-proof and is constructed only of steel, iron, concrete, and tile. The booth of iron and concrete is said by underwriters to be one of the best in the State. It is built into the rear of the theatre lobby and back and overhead of the auditorium. The booth is equipped with two Powers motion picture machines of the 1921 type with every device and appliance. Beneath the booth is a separate generator room and film box, both fireproof. In the film box can be placed any extra films kept on hand and will be in no danger whatever from fire.
The entrances are in front. There are four exits on the sides, front and back. The interior is of decorated steel. The ceiling is in cream and orange while these colors with a gray-blue are beautifully combined on the side walls with a mahogany finish to the steel wainscoating [sic].
The theatre will be suburbly [sic] lighted. There are twelve indirect ceiling fixtures and ten wall fixtures. There is 360 feet of ventilating space in the ceilings and this is added to by windows on both sides.
One of the features of the theatre is the $6,000 Foto-player organ. This is not a mechanical orchestration but a modern organ with appliances made especially for theatre use. It will be operated by an expert musician and will take the place of a 9-piece orchestra.
The picture screen is on a good-sized stage. The screen was painted by Robert Wentworth of this city and is said to be one of the finest possible to secure. The picture will be thrown 35 feet on this screen.
The theatre is owned by William Plass, the well-known Hudson livery man. There are two modern flats over the theatre which will be occupied on May 1st. The theatre bulding was planned and supervised by Eugene Jacobie. The electrical power work was done by Eugene Howard who also installed the machines and the power for the organ. The lighting work was done by Milton Glickman. The painting and interior decorating was done by Avery & Mulford.
The lobby of the theatre is to be of tile. Over the street there will be a large glass marquis.
The theatre has been leased and will be conducted exclusively by Julius Thompsen, proprietor of the Star theatre. He will conduct both theatres and is now booking the finest of motion picture attractions in the country for the new theatre.
Thanks to a Gossips reader, we know what the Star Theatre, which was located at 510 Warren Street, looked like.

Now the help of all is needed to find out what the Park Theatre looked like in its heyday.


  1. My father was born in Hudson in 1920. We know little of his father. My grandmother once drove me around this area as a young child pointing out family houses and memories from her youth. She told me Mr. Mulford was an artist of sorts, painting murals and decorating interiors. One such building was a Masonic Hall in New Lebanon. Could this mention be my grandfather?

    1. I wondered, too, Vincent, if the Mulford of Avery & Mulford might be an ancestor of yours. Sounds very likely to me.

  2. For Gossips sake I will share what I shared with the new owner. In the early 90's my shop was at 711. One day there was a mighty crash. The stucco facade, applied over the clapboard, had let loose and in one conflagration, shattering on Warren Street. It was very quiet in that neighborhood at that time. No one paid it much heed.