Bow Tie Cinemas Closes Its Doors

Bow Tie Cinemas on Feb. 5, 2018

To the dismay of many Port Washingtonians, Bow Tie Cinemas on Main Street closed its doors on Jan. 28 after deciding to not renew their lease. Bow Tie Cinemas had taken over the theater with a rich cinematic history from Clearview Cinemas in 2013.

“I moved to Port last summer and really enjoyed the main street of the town and it’s sad to lose an anchor like the movie theater,” said resident Daniel Moskowitz. “I grew up in Roslyn and can remember going to see movies there when I was younger.”

The original theater, the Beacon Theatre, opened in 1927 under A.H. Schwartz ownership as a large single screen theater. An Oct. 14, 1927, issue of the Port Washington News described the theater, stating, “and so with the throwing open of the doors to this magnificent theatre, it is in reality significant of throwing open a new door to the town of Port Washington where outsiders may enter in and find the hospitality, the loveliness and the homeliness of our wonderful little city.”

Two thousand attended the opening night of the Beacon Theatre with excitement, lining Main Street in anticipation to fill the 1,500-seat theater. The opening night featured a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the “Beautiful Galathea” overture performed by The Beacon Symphony Orchestra with Arthur Holstein conducting, a dedicatory address from Surrogate Judge Leone D. Howell, a newsreel, a Technicolor classic movie short, Argentine dancers, harmony singers, Sid Hall and his Blue Ribbon Orchestra and the feature presentation of The Life of Riley with Charles Murray and George Sidney.

Beacon Theatre following a renovation by the Skouras Theater chain; the reopening was in March 1962. Photo by owner/photographer of Mason Studios was Val Gelo. and courtesy of the Port Washington Public Library.

The Beacon’s management later changed from Schwartz to Century, then to Skouras in 1962 and then Carmi Dji Dji in 1967. In the early 1970s, the Beacon Theatre was one of the first local theaters to be a tri-plex as the balcony became one theater and two theaters were created downstairs. In order to compete with larger theaters, it was then converted to a quad-plex with two theaters upstairs and two downstairs, later a five-plex with the old stage being turned into a theater and finally a seven-plex theater. Clearview Cinemas began leasing the space in 1995, only to be taken over by Bow Tie Cinemas in 2013.

“The closing of the Beacon Theatre is a loss for the community. From the late 1920s when movie going was an event, the Beacon Theatre was a fixture along Main Street,” said Robert Bracken, a volunteer at the Port Washington Public Library Local History Center. “The movie-going experience changed over the decades; the theatre as event site diminished. But whether a Skouras, a Clearview or a Bow Tie, for this community the cinema was always the Beacon Theatre.”

“I’m sad to see it close,” said executive director of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce Bobby Polay. “I hope some form of entertainment moves into the building.”
Historical information courtesy of the Port Washington Public Library Local History Center.


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