Coney Island’s Shore Theater, a short film by Charles Denson featuring his never-before-seen photos of the building’s ornate interior debuted a few days ago on Mr Denson’s “Coneyologist” channel on YouTube. At the same time, the exhibit “Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson” is on view at the Coney Island History Project through September 3rd. The exhibit center is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon – 6pm. Admission is free of charge.
Shore Theater Coney Island History Project “The Shore Theater represents not just Coney’s golden past, but also its bright future,” Mr Denson said last summer, when the landmark was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame. 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 in the film and the exhibition provide a rare glimpse of a Coney Island treasure.
Loew’s Mermaid Photo by Charles Denson Mr Denson is one of the few people who has seen the inside of the Shore Theater in recent years. “The interior of the Shore (formerly the Loew’s Coney Island) is a visual delight, a treasure trove of complex architectural details that ranks it among the finest of New York’s surviving movie palaces,” he said. “Below the theater’s massive 150-foot dome are frescoed walls and vaulted ceilings covered with decorative nautical-themed plasterwork motifs featuring scallop shells, crabs, and squid medallions as well as wind-blown sailing ships with full sails and fluttering flags, breezing across a border of crashing waves. The mezzanine’s colorful half dome ceiling is supported by a curving row of Ionic columns crowned with rows of beautiful dancing mermaids set into decorative diamonds.”
“Local elected officials and the City’s EDC have expressed an interest in buying and restoring the theater, but as time passes the fate of the structure’s unique interior, which is not landmarked, becomes more uncertain every day. This architectural treasure must be preserved.”