Roger, Ahles: Two Bayside Beauties

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    On the west side just south of 39th Avenue, we find the venerable fish-scale mansard roofed John William Ahles House (built in 1873).

    According to longtime Bayside historian Joan Brown Wettingfeld, in 1873, Robert Bell, nephew of Abraham Bell, a local landowner for whom Bell Boulevard is named, built this house for his daughter, Lillie and her husband, John Ahles as a wedding gift on “Ahles Road” (now known as 41st Avenue). This road ran then from 208th Street to present day Bell Boulevard. Old maps show a portion of 41st Avenue as Ahles Road as late as 1941.

    The naming of Ahles Road was no accident, for the road supervisor at the time was Abraham Bell II, and John William Ahles married Robert Bell’s daughter, Lillie, in June of 1873.

    Known for his integrity and business acumen, John William Ahles died in 1915 after amassing a large fortune.

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    The old Bayside Theatre on the NE corner of Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue opened in 1927 (as the Capitol Theatre) and was designed by prolific theatre house architect Thomas Lamb. According to cinematreasures commenters, it was closed during much of the Depression, but reopened in 1941.


    On November 7, 1941, it had a gala re-opening as the Skouras Bayside. Here’s a report from the Bayside Times: “Stars of stage, screen and radio attended the gala opening of the new Skouras Bayside Theatre, 38-39 Bell Boulevard. Among those who participated were Patti Pickens and Bob Simmons of radio and stage fame; Bob Douglas, NBC’s new singing star; Erik Rhodes, film comedian featured in two Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire pictures, and others… The theatre has been completely rebuilt and decorated, with only the walls of the old structure retained. The lobby, auditorium and lounges have been furnished in keeping with present-day standards to create the most modern theatre on the North Shore…The new theatre will have complete changes of program twice each week, with special selected programs for children at 10 o’clock every Saturday morning.”

    United Artists closed the theatre, which had deteriorated greatly from lack of maintenance, after the wekend of October 14, 2001; Zoolander was the final first-biled feature, along with Rush Hour 2 and a couple other unmemorable productions. The ground floor is now occupied by a Washington Mutual bank.

    An aside: I remember as a freshman in college, let’s say several years ago, a classmate named Marie Malluk interviewed Erik Rhodes for the school paper, the St. Francis College Voice, and it might have possibly been the most in-depth interview of the actor who usually was the foil or second banana during the 1930s golden cinematic era. This, of course,  was long before the internet age and information about the second bananas of Hollywood was not as readily available as it is now!

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