Long Island Theatre Spotlight:
Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts
Once known as one of the "Grand Dames" of Long Island's South Shore, the Patchogue Theatre on East Main Street in the heart of Patchogue Village stands as a nostalgic reminder of a bygone era. A time of vaudeville, Broadway shows and silent films, when the theatre was the primary entertainment medium and central to the development efforts of the community.
First introduced to the theater-going public as Ward & Glynne's Patchogue Theatre in 1923, the 1,800-seat structure was, from the beginning, the symbol of elegance and majesty, attracting patrons from as far east as the Hamptons and west to the county line.
The proprietor, Michael Glynne, one of the most prominent theatrical men in New York State and widely known for his Astoria Theatre in Queens, was most forthcoming in his investment -- $275,000, not a meager amount in those days. He used only the finest materials available for the dcor: a brilliantly illuminated marquee, lit by 2,000 lamps; a grand entrance graced with five crystal chandeliers and lobby walls painted in gold leaf. The theater auditorium was replete with red-velour paneled walls, plush carpeting, mahogany columns, velvet curtains, and "Juliette" balcony stages. A pipe organ's melodious strains served as an accompaniment to many of the vaudeville acts of the day and a large orchestra pit served as home to popular bands and orchestras.
In its hey-day, the theater attracted first-run feature films, Broadway productions, vaudeville and the best in burlesque. Silent film stars such as Pola Negri, Rudolph Valentino, Buddy Rogers, and the Barrymores were frequent headliners, along with film legends Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan. "Our Gang" comedies were the rage, along with the big band sounds of John Philip Sousa, and performances by The Rose Royal Midgets, the "Largest Company of Lilliputians in the World." Admission at one time was 40 cents for adults, half that for children.
Glynne operated the theater until the Great Depression, after which vaudeville, a mainstay at the theater, virtually disappeared. In 1929, Ward and Glynne's was purchased by Prudential Playhouses Inc., which made substantial investments to keep up with changing technology and state-of-the-art film and sound equipment. The theater continued to thrive, offering such classic films as Gone With the Wind along with community activities such as bingo and sing-a longs, and over the years underwent a number of changes to keep pace with the changing times.
Then, in 1958, fire hit the theater, destroying the lobby and the adjoining five stores west of the building. The glitz and the glitter, so much a part of the Patchogue Theatre, was suddenly gone. Yet, with its auditorium spared, the theater opened for business the very next evening, showing as its feature, curiously, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The damaged marquee was soon replaced by a more modern faade, and the lobby simply decorated, lacking the ornamentation of years past. In fact, much of the ornate dcor was simply covered up behind plywood, dry-wall and wallpaper.
The Patchogue Theatre continued to operate solely as a movie house, and in 1982 the ground floor was divided into two theaters, adding a ceiling to extend the balcony level for a third screen. The days of the single screen theater had come to a close. And yet, the newest incarnation was also short-lived; smaller theaters gave way to 12-screen behemoths. Increased competition with malls and discount centers coupled with a nationwide recession left many of the downtown areas on Long Island struggling for survival. The Village of Patchogue was no exception. The Patchogue Theatre as a movie house officially closed its doors in 1987.
An investigation of the building by village officials and business leaders in October 1994 found that much of the original dcor has been preserved under the dry-walls, wall paper and plywood installed in the late 1950's. The building has a full stage with dressing and property rooms. The orchestra pit is intact, though covered, as are the stage-side Juliettes and projections rooms.
In 1996, The Patchogue Village Administration, with the help of some local businessmen, purchased the Theatre property from TCI Cable and started an extensive renovation of the Theatre with support from both federal and state government grants. Today the Theatre has been fully restored to its grandeur of days past when it first opened in 1923 as Ward and Glynne's Theatre. It is managed by the Patchogue Village Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., a not-for-profit organization run by a board consisting of dedicated community leaders. The Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts is open for business and is quickly becoming a prime catalyst in the revitalization of downtown Patchogue.
The Patchogue Village Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., has been organized under and by virtue of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law of the State of New York in order to manage the The Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts in the public interest. The Center's mission is to have The Patchogue Theatre serve as a cultural center for Long Island. The Center expects to achieve its mission by showcasing a broad spectrum of performing arts for the benefit of a wide-ranging audience at affordable prices. The Center will utilize The Patchogue Theatre as a full-time mixed-use venue, offering a variety of events including live performances, films, educational presentations, commercial productions, community forums, and other appropriate events.
71 East Main St.
Patchogue, NY 11772
Directions: The Patchogue Theatre is located at 71 East Main Street between North Ocean Avenue and Maple Avenue. (East Main Street is also Montauk Highway and Route 27A.)
From the Southern State take Exit #44 East onto Rt. 27 East Toward Montauk. Take Exit # 52A (Patchogue/North Ocean Avenue) and exit to the right onto North Ocean Avenue. Take North Ocean Avenue to Terry Street and turn left. Municipal Parking will be on both sides of the street.
From the Long Island Expressway (U.S. Hwy 495), take Exit #63 (Patchogue/North Ocean Avenue) and exit to the right onto North Ocean Avenue. Take North Ocean Avenue to Terry Street and turn left. Municipal Parking will be on both sides of the street.
The Islip MacArthur Airport in Ronkonoma is 20 minutes east of downtown Patchogue. Take Veterans Memorial Hwy (Rt. 454) south to Sunrise Hwy (Rt. 27). Go east on Sunrise to Exit #52A (North Ocean Avenue). Go 1 mile south on N. Ocean Ave. to the first stop sign. Turn left into Oak Street, the next street on the left after the stop sign. Then turn right into the parking lot behind the Patchogue Theatre. Alternatively, stay on N. Ocean Ave. and cross Main Street. (Left turns are not permitted from N. Ocean Ave. onto East Main Street.) Turn left onto Terry Street, which is the first street to the left after crossing Main Street. Turn left again into the Patchogue Municipal parking lot.
The LIRR train station is located at South Ocean Avenue and Division Street, which is 4 blocks south and 1 block east of The Patchogue Theatre.
For a list of upcoming shows and events at the Patchogue Theatre, please visit the Web site at