Never-before-seen photos of the ornate interior of the Shore Theater Building by Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson are on view at our exhibition center through September 3rd. The new exhibit “Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson” is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon – 6pm. Admission to the Coney Island History Project is free of charge.
The seven-story, neo-Renaissance style theater and vaudeville house and adjacent 14-story office building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues opened in 1925 and operated for half a century. Both structures have been closed and sealed up for decades. The theater’s facade was granted landmark status in 2010, but the interior is not protected and vulnerable to demolition. The images provide a rare glimpse of a Coney Island treasure.
In August 2011, the Shore, formerly known as the Loew’s Coney Island, was inducted into the History Project’s Coney Island Hall of Fame in the architecture category. “The Shore Theater represents not just Coney’s golden past, but also its bright future,” said Charles Denson at the ceremony. “Now that it’s been granted landmark status, the Shore awaits a renovation that will make it the year-round entertainment center of a new Coney Island.”
New displays at the Coney Island History Project include vintage signs from Spook-A-Rama, the classic 1955 dark ride that still operates in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Visitors are invited to chill out by sitting in an eye-popping spookhouse car and taking a souvenir photo. The car was designed by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein’s “Spookhouse” in 1984. After the play closed, artists Philomena Marano and Richard Eagan put it on display at the Coney Island Hysterical Society’s Spookhouse in the Dragon’s Cave, which was on West 15th Street across from the Thunderbolt.
A selection of photos from this season’s acclaimed exhibit “Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography” will remain on view through the summer. A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island’s bathhouses and the art of bathhouse tags will open on August 11 as part of our “History Day” celebration.
The History Project is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk.
The exhibition center is also open by appointment for schools and groups and for special events. It is the starting point for the Coney Island History Project’s popular walking tours of the amusement area. The 1-1/2 hour walking tours are led by historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island! Please visit our online reservation website to see the walking tour schedule and purchase advance tickets online. If you have a question or to arrange a group tour, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.