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Local News January 15, 2009  RSS feed

Ridgewood Theatre May Be Landmarked

LPC To Hold Hearings In Near Future
by Sam Goldman

The Ridgewood Theatre has caught the attention of Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) officials, who are eying it for possible landmark status.

An e-mail from an LPC spokesperson to the Times Newsweekly indicated that the theatre will be up for a "calendaring" vote in the next several weeks.

While the date of the vote has not been officialy set, the public will be given several weeks of notice before the hearing takes place.

The vote will be taken by the LPC commissioners; according to the agency's website, a vote to schedule a public hearing is an indication that the property merits further consideration as a possible landmark. If the LPC votes to schedule a hearing, it will use the hearing's results, along with the agency's own research, as the basis for their vote on whether to recommend that the site be landmarked.

The theatre, located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave., was designed by Thomas Lamb for the Fox movie chain and opened in 1916.

During his career, Lamb designed over 300 theatres throughout the United States and Canada, including the original Ziegfeld Theatre and the third iteration of Madison Square Garden, as well as the Metro Cinema theatre in Mumbai, India.

In a statement, the LPC praised Lamb's work, claiming that he was "in the forefront of theater designers at this period."

"He understood the importance of creating sumptuous interiors with comfortable seats, good sight lines and good acoustics," the statement added. "His interiors ranged from dignified Adamesque décor to ornate French and Italian Baroque fantasies."

William Fox, the founder of the Fox theatre chain (the predecessor to the 20th Century Fox company), added sound to the 2,500-seat theatre in 1927 and featured Lights of New York, the first feature film to feature full spoken-word audio throughout its running time, the following year.

According to the LPC, its original marquee collapsed due to a 1969 snowstorm and was replaced, and some of the ground-floor ornamentation has been covered up; however, it adds that "the well-designed façade with its geometric designs, heavily encrusted medallions and pilasters retains a strong presence on this busy commercial street and serves as an anchor for the neighborhood."

The theater closed in March 2008 and is currently being offered for sale.