Building of the Day: 1515 Bedford Avenue

The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.

Address: 1515 Bedford Avenue, corner of Lincoln Place
Name: Savoy Theater, now Charity Neighborhood Baptist Church
Neighborhood: Crow Hill section of Crown Heights
Year Built: 1926
Architectural Style: Neo-Classic
Architect: Thomas Lamb
Landmarked: No

Why chosen: The great theater architect, Thomas Lamb, designed this huge, 3000 seat theater for William Fox, which opened to great fanfare in 1926. Before he built his Fox Theatre in Downtown Brooklyn, this was the largest of Fox’s theaters, and was the top Brooklyn showcase theater for two years, until the downtown Fox opened in 1928. The theater ran first run movies as well as vaudeville shows. William Fox eventually went bankrupt, and the Savoy became a part of the Randforce Circuit, and was that organization’s corporate headquarters in office space in the building, as well as one of their premiere movie theaters. The last movie shown here was in 1969, when the theater closed. The building was purchased by the Charity Neighborhood Baptist Church. They removed the marquee and altered the entrance where a luncheonette had been, but the interior remains pretty much intact. The decorative painting has mostly been painted white, but some of the original stage curtains still remain, and many of the old scenic backdrops are said to be stored in the lofts. Crown Heights had three major movie theaters in the first half of the 20th century, the Kameo, nearby on Eastern Parkway, the Loews Bedford, in Grant Square, and the Savoy, all providing fond memories for people who were kids before the 1960’s. All three are now churches, preserving these pieces of Brooklyn history, at least in some part. All three still have a lot of original interior detail, as well.

Photo: American Classic Images. Photo taken in 1972. Theater was closed, before the church moved in.

Photo: Warren G Harris. Photo from the balcony looking down onto stage area, which is now the altar of the church. A large baptismal font is in front of the backdrop.

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