Saturday, September 24, 2011

Calderone Music Hall, 145 N. Franklin St., Hempstead, NY

Salvatore Calderone (1878-1929) and his son, Dr. Frank Calderone (1901-
1987), were visionary theatre operators in Nassau County, N.Y. (Dr.
Calderone was also a noted physician and health officer.) Their Calderone
theatre circuit brought quality entertainment—in the form of live stage shows
and films—to the area for decades.

Named after its owner, the Calderone was the last to be constructed by this family chain on Long Island.(1) The Calderone Theatre opened Tuesday evening, June 21, 1949. According to an article in the August 26, 1949 Newsday, the opening night proceeds of $ 3,568 were turned over to the local Community Chest by the Skouras Theatre Corp.(2)



The architect was William Lescaze for the Skouras Theatres Corp. chain. The owner was Erone Corp. Its too bad that the origional plans could not be completed on this building due to a water problem under it. It was to have a large stage with all the magic of Radio City. The origional plans were to have stage and screen shows using the same format as the Music Hall. During construction of the stage area, a stream under the building could not be relocated and after about a year, the decision was made to close up the stage wall and have the theater used for movies only. This will help explain the size of this theater.(4)






The Calerone Theatre was well constructed and beautifully equipped. The front is of face brick with a huge triangular marquee dominating a business block. Entrance lobby and novel cantilevered boxoffice are faced with blue cream colored marbles trimmed with aluminum. With Herculite glass doors give entrance to a wider and higher inner lobby equipped with an escalator to the balcony level and dominated by huge mosaic murals by Max Spivak.
Ten aluminum doors open to the orchestra. Above a wood veneer wainscot, the walls are a series of architectural planes, each in a clear, bright tone of green, red, yellow or blue and indirectly lighted by strip coves. The proscenium arch is a huge frame with
a brillant yellow screen curtain. On the rear wall of the balcony a colorful plaid fabic covers the acoustical material. Seats are spaced at 38-ich row intervals for a maximum of leg room. All lounges, power room, restrooms boast of modern furniture with specially woven upholstery fabrics. Modern paintings adorn the walls and all equipment is the best obtainable. Here is a superior theatre, out of the usual commercial lanes of the current time in both investment and objective.(5)
Over the years it operated dually as a movie house and concert venue. Throughout the 1970's and into the early 1980's, the Calderone played to packed houses, booking the likes of The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, etc. As the neighborhood fell under bad times, so did the Calderone.
The original plans were to have stage and screen shows using the same format as the Music Hall. During construction of the stage area, a stream under the building could not be relocated and after about a year, the decision was made to close up the stage wall and have the theater used for movies only. This will help explain the size of this theater.

The Calderone did very well during the 1950's up until about 1967 when a riot in the theater happened during the showing of the Planet of the Apes. Much damage was done to the lobby and the front glass. The theater was closed for a couple of days. The Calderone suffered from this riot and business fell off. United Artists did not renew its lease with the Calderone family and AIT took over the theater in the early 70's.(4)
The Calderone originally had an escalator to whisk patrons from the lobby to the upstairs seating. It was reported to be a "first" for any movie theatre in the New York City-Long Island area.(3)
The theater went through a series of uses and operators over the last 20 years, ultimately getting split up into a 7 screen multiplex.

It has most recently been taken over by a local Baptist church that is in the process of restoring the auditorium for their congregation.

Hofstra has also published a paperback book, "The Calderone Theatres on Long Island," by Miriam Tulin, which has numerous B&W photos.(3)



Jerry performed here on
3/30/76 Jerry Garcia Band
7/8/77 Jerry Garcia Band
2/29/80 Jerry Garcia Band
2/14/81 Jerry Garcia Band




1.)^Smith, Steve, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/4023
2.)^Tinseltoes, comments, 2012-03-03, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/4023
3.)^Harris, William G., comments, 2004-11-02, http://cinematreasures.org/comments?page=2&theater_id=4023
4.)^js662, comments, 2004-02-06, http://cinematreasures.org/comments?page=2&theater_id=4023
5.)^William, comments, 2003-12-16, http://cinematreasures.org/comments?page=2&theater_id=4023

3 comments:

  1. The Grateful Dead never played there. Also, some of your photos are not actually of the Calderone.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK, I'll recheck the photos. I've corrected the Grateful Dead statement. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Jerry Garcia Band played there but not the Dead.

    ReplyDelete