Foreclosure Auction Set for Slave Theater


Mired in legal infighting and with a tax lien of $190,106 hanging over its head, the historic Slave Theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy has gone into foreclosure and is set to be auctioned off at Aug. 9 at 2:30 pm, according to PropertyShark. The putative owner is Rev. Samuel Boykin of Ohio, nephew of Judge John L. Phillips Jr., who bought the theater in 1984 and named it to remind Black people of their history. Filled with African-American political art, the theater hosted speakers and showed films of, by, and about Black people. Phillips died without a will, and ownership of the theater has been contested by two former associates of the judge, Clarence Hardy and Rev. Paul Lewis. At one point, Boykin said he hoped to sell the building for $3 million. Any bets what it’ll fetch if the auction goes through?
Slave Theater Vacated, but Questions of Ownership Linger [Brownstoner]
Bed Stuy’s Slave Theater Still Looking for Buyer [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by Hobo Matt

6 Comment

  • This case is a royal mess. From local scuttlebutt, I hear that Boykin is no prize himself, and as someone living in far away Ohio, has little regard for either the building, or the community, only whatever money he can get.

    I’ve seen recent photos of the interior of the theater. It’s a crumbling mess. The ceilings are falling down into the seats, the walls are crumbling, and it’s going to take a lot of money to fix it. There is also the issue of the church upstairs and the people using the office space to do whatever it is they are doing. They are not going to go quietly into the night. They feel they own the building.

    Here’s what I want to happen: I want a person or organization to buy it, and renovate it as an event space, one that can do multiple duty as a banquet hall, a concert space, or a gallery. I’d like part of the top floor to be made into offices that can be rented out to local non-profits, along with the theater’s offices. I think there is enough room in the building to also put in a ground floor cafe, either part of the main space, or the lobby, so the building is generating revenue whenever something bigger is not in venue.

    I’d like it to somehow preserve the best and most preservable of Judge Phillip’s Afrocentric vision. There are frescoes on the wall that are still preservable, although most of them are not. I’d like to see some of the original theater decor preserved as well, if possible, if not, re-created. I’d want the entire theater to echo its historic past, while being kitted up for the technology and comfort of the present. An architect with some imagination and vision could do this.

    Bed Stuy is growing and evolving. It’s ludicrous to think that we can keep the world around us in the 1970′s, but it’s also wrong to think that that past does not have a place in the present. I would want all kinds of groups or events to want to take place there, assuring its financial future. I sincerely hope someone who shares this vision buys the place. My worst fears are that it will be bought by some developer who will tear it down for a 10 story condobox. It’s not landmarked, and there’s nothing stopping them.

  • Montrose has a great proposal. Here is another option: Combine the lot with this one:
    http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2012/05/30000-square-foot-lot-for-sale-in-stuyvesant-heights/
    and build a great school.

  • NeoGrec

    Whenever I read articles about the decline and death of Judge John Phillips, I’m saddened. He was an eccentric but good man, also a man with a vision for a better world. The way he was treated in his old age by political rivals, “friends”, and dodgy relatives is a crying shame.

  • Matt and Montroesemorris,

    New Brooklyn Theater is a 501(c) 3 theater company which is on a mission to purchase and restore the historic theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY. New Brooklyn Theater plans to restore the building and turn it into a performing arts center with three stages that will develop the work of Brooklyn artists for Brooklyn audiences.

    Our Kickstarter campaign is set at $200,000 which is the total needed for a down payment on the building. The space is an architecturally impressive and historically significant building that needs to be saved before the city of the New York forecloses and it is auctioned off to developers that will tear it down.

    We estimate that the complete restoration and rehabilitation of the Slave as a multi-purpose performing arts center will cost between $3.5 and $5 million.

    We are deliberately foregoing other more traditional development formulas that would require unnecessary and costly plans. Instead we turn to you to help spark Brooklyn interest in the restoration of this landmark space.

    “We are raising the $200,000 down payment in this way because we are willing to put our vision up to a vote of public opinion,” says Artistic Director Solari. “When the Kickstarter campaign ends, if we are successful, we will approach our many potential corporate funders and development partners with something quite valuable, a mandate.”

    For more information or questions please contact Sarah Wolff, Executive Producer by phone 914-523-0503 or email NBT@NewBrooklynTheater.com *All donations are tax deductible. All contributors will receive your reward and information regarding the tax deductible amount for your tax purposes

    http://www.NewBrooklynTheater.com
    Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newbrooklyntheater
    Connect on Twitter: @New_Brooklyn

  • Matt and Montroesemorris,

    New Brooklyn Theater is a 501(c) 3 theater company which is on a mission to purchase and restore the historic theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY. New Brooklyn Theater plans to restore the building and turn it into a performing arts center with three stages that will develop the work of Brooklyn artists for Brooklyn audiences.

    Our Kickstarter campaign is set at $200,000 which is the total needed for a down payment on the building. The space is an architecturally impressive and historically significant building that needs to be saved before the city of the New York forecloses and it is auctioned off to developers that will tear it down.

    We estimate that the complete restoration and rehabilitation of the Slave as a multi-purpose performing arts center will cost between $3.5 and $5 million.

    We are deliberately foregoing other more traditional development formulas that would require unnecessary and costly plans. Instead we turn to you to help spark Brooklyn interest in the restoration of this landmark space.

    “We are raising the $200,000 down payment in this way because we are willing to put our vision up to a vote of public opinion,” says Artistic Director Solari. “When the Kickstarter campaign ends, if we are successful, we will approach our many potential corporate funders and development partners with something quite valuable, a mandate.”

    For more information or questions please contact Sarah Wolff, Executive Producer by phone 914-523-0503 or email NBT@NewBrooklynTheater.com *All donations are tax deductible. All contributors will receive your reward and information regarding the tax deductible amount for your tax purposes

    http://www.NewBrooklynTheater.com
    Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newbrooklyntheater
    Connect on Twitter: @New_Brooklyn

  • New Brooklyn Theater is a 501(c) 3 theater company which is on a mission to purchase and restore the historic theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY. New Brooklyn Theater plans to restore the building and turn it into a performing arts center with three stages that will develop the work of Brooklyn artists for Brooklyn audiences.

    Our Kickstarter campaign is set at $200,000 which is the total needed for a down payment on the building. The space is an architecturally impressive and historically significant building that needs to be saved before the city of the New York forecloses and it is auctioned off to developers that will tear it down.

    We estimate that the complete restoration and rehabilitation of the Slave as a multi-purpose performing arts center will cost between $3.5 and $5 million.

    We are deliberately foregoing other more traditional development formulas that would require unnecessary and costly plans. Instead we turn to you to help spark Brooklyn interest in the restoration of this landmark space.

    “We are raising the $200,000 down payment in this way because we are willing to put our vision up to a vote of public opinion,” says Artistic Director Solari. “When the Kickstarter campaign ends, if we are successful, we will approach our many potential corporate funders and development partners with something quite valuable, a mandate.”

    For more information or questions please contact Sarah Wolff, Executive Producer by phone 914-523-0503 or email NBT@NewBrooklynTheater.com *All donations are tax deductible. All contributors will receive your reward and information regarding the tax deductible amount for your tax purposes

    http://www.NewBrooklynTheater.com
    Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newbrooklyntheater
    Connect on Twitter: @New_Brooklyn