Saturday, August 17, 2013

Meserole Theater and Greenpoint Rite Aid

Historic image of facade from 1920s
Meserole Theater circa 1928 (photo source: BrooklynPix.com)
Historic image of facade from 1960s
Meserole Theater 1960s (photo source: BrooklynPix.com)
The theater which bears the name of one of Greenpoint's founding families who moved to the area in the mid 1600s was built on the site of Jacob Meserole's home.[1] The single screen theater could seat 1,978 people and was a first run theater throughout its existence. The Meserole Theater first opened in 1921 and closed in 1978. After closing in 1978 the theater was converted into a roller skating rink and later became a retail space.[2]

Current facade
Meserole Theater, August 2013
Now a Rite Aid pharmacy, the old Meserole Theater is one of my favorite buildings in the neighborhood. It is the pharmacy I use even though it's the furthest local drug store from my apartment. Regardless of the generic chain store that resides within, the original interior with much of its ornamental detailing, domed ceiling and disco ball have been left intact. The building has retained some of its soul in spite of its revolving tenants. I first discovered the place several years ago when I was getting a prescription filled and inquired about the disco ball and cavernous domed ceiling in the main part of the building. The clerk behind the counter said that the place used to be a dance hall and prior to that a theater. She also informed me that the projector could still be seen if I looked into the balcony above the pharmacy counter. In fact, it was a roller skating rink, not a dance hall and some wood seating is all that remains in the balcony but she was right about it being a theater. I recently read that the owner would like to see the building return to its former glory as a theater if Rite Aid decides not to renew its lease. Many historic buildings are repurposed to stay relevant, so for this building to reestablish itself as what it was originally designed for almost one hundred years ago would be unique.

Photo of back side of building
Rear of Meserole Theater
The anonymous rear of the building on Lorimer Street gives a better indication of the grand  scale of the interior.


Interior of building
Meserole Theater Interior
from Under the Balcony
The screen used to be on the back wall where the "cosmetics" sign is and the space occupied by a sea of colorful sundries is where the seating was.


Interior of building looking at the balcony
Meserole Theater Balcony
With black paint on the walls of the upper floor the depth of field is distorted but the balcony seating is just below the back row of light fixtures seen in this photo. I was told that the projector was located in the center aisle. At some point I hope to finagle my way to the upper floor and balcony to confirm what I was told, as well as take some photographs of the space.

Interior of building looking at the ceiling
Dome and Disco Ball
At one time a chandelier hung where the disco ball now dangles over the merchandise.
Photo zoomed in on disco ball hanging from ceiling
Dico Ball
Corinthian Style Capital


Balcony & Decorative Molding



References:
  1. Tiebout, Cornelius "Greenpoint Yesterday and Today"
  2. Robert R. "Meserole Theater" Cinema Treasures. online.

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this info!

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  2. It was not a dance hall, it was a roller rink. Spent many days there when it was both a movie theater and a roller rink.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. In my research I discovered that the Rite Aid was formerly a roller rink and not a dance hall. However, the first time I inquired about the disco ball the clerk working the counter informed me that it had been a dance hall. I'm glad that the various occupants have allowed some relics of the building's past life to remain.

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