Walking around The Lansdowne Theater was a bit how I imagine it might be diving into the Mary Rose or the Atocha, parts that are fragile and coming apart and other parts still reflecting the same elegance it had when it opened in 1927. After its sixty-year run, the movie theater would close in 1987 due to an electrical fire and remain closed, losing financial backing for repair and renovation. Matt Schultz, President of The Lansdowne Theater Corporation has made his devotion to reviving the theater his full time occupation.
Restoring the theater has less to do with nostalgia than it has to do with generating business and reinventing the theater itself. Matt Schultz's vision is to turn the space into a multifaceted performance venue, whether it be for cinema, live music or live theater, making the Lansdowne Theater a valuable piece of property both culturally and monetarily.
Matt asked if NYC would let an abandoned movie theater sit around, locked up for decades. I did a little digging. The answer is no. It'd become a Duane Reade. City Cinema RKO, built in 1926 on Lexington & 86th is now a Duane Reade. The Meserole in Greenpoint Brooklyn, built in 1928 is now a Rite Aide. The Forest Hills Theater in Queens, built in 1921 was closed and bought out by Duane Reade and Bleecker Street Cinema at 144 Bleecker has most recently been taken over by Duane Reade, the Captain Ahab of retail, steadfastly waging some perverse vendetta against cinema. Jesus! What did cinema ever do to you?
Thanks for the wonderful tour Matt.