Earlier this year, the Ridgewood Theater attracted the attention of Architecture for Humanity NY (AfHny), a non-profit organization that provides free design services for underserved communities; additionally, they support design that enriches community spaces, making them natural allies for the Ridgewood residents attempting to revitalize their shuttered theater. Wong presented the results of her historic research and design work in March 2013 at the New York AIA Center for Architecture. After a review process on the part of their board of directors, AfHny decided to support efforts at revitalizing the Ridgewood Theater. Future assistance from AfHny will come in the form of workshops to identify needs of the community, interviews with stakeholders, design charettes and proposal.  Currently AfHny is coordinating with consultants of the Myrtle Avenue business improvement district; the latter commissioned a market analysis of the Ridgewood Myrtle Avenue area.  The revitalization of  Ridgewood Theater will a be major game changer for the growth and future of Ridgewood and an anchor for Myrtle Avenue.

In April of this year, Wong & Vidunas launched the ‘We Love Ridgewood Theater’ campaign to raise awareness and garner support for the revitalization of the theater.  They saw news of an offer on the theater as an opportunity to engage new ownership in dialogue.  Their campaign emphasizes the importance of establishing open lines of communication with future ownership. What they have learned to date is that without ownership participation, even with overwhelming support in the public sector, the road to revitalizing the theater is fraught with difficulties.  Therefore they make it their mission statement to hear all stakeholders with AfHny’s help, and that includes the owners as well. ‘We Love Ridgewood Theater’ wants to understand what the future owner’s vision is for the theater and advise them on their plans. ‘We Love Ridgewood Theater’ is open-minded to development, while keeping the community’s wants and needs in mind. It strongly advocates for arts, performance arts and community-focused programming and the restoration of its landmarked facade.

The revitalization of Ridgewood theater will be pivotal to the health and vitality of Myrtle Avenue, enhancing the pedestrian experience and a create a more vibrant streetscape.  With convenient public transit access, it is not hard to imagine its success as a performing arts venue, given the lively arts scene in the area.  Perhaps a public-private partnership will be the key to ensure the community will always have a stake in the theater, as custodians of this neighborhood jewel for many years to come.

There is much ground to be covered before the interests of community activists seeking to preserve a distinguished link to the past and property developers looking to make future profits can be said to neatly converge. However, one thing is for certain: the building in everyone’s sights is unique and full of remarkable potential, and a space whose final chapter has not yet been written.


7 Responses so far.


    I’m so happy that the Ridgewood theater is being restored! I was born in 1994 and I’ve lived in Ridgewood my whole life. I live half a block away from the theater. It would be truly great to see it restored into a better movie theater. A movie theater is perfect for the community.

    • admin says:

      Hello Selina, I agree with you absolutely that a theater that can show movies would be wonderful for the community. However, the future of the theater is unclear. A new owner is buying the theater this moment with the possibility of turning it into an apartment building with retail stores in the bottom. That would mean aside from preserving the front wall facing Myrtle Avenue, the rest of the theater will be demolished. The goal of We Love Ridgewood Theater is to establish lines of communication with the new owner to suggest that arts and entertainment should be in the theater’s future and hopefully some parts of the theater can be restored.

  2. Verse says:

    I’ve lived in bushwick Brooklyn & Ridgewood my entire life, I couldn’t
    Imagine any thing else there but a theater I saw movies like jaws & beat street
    When I was a kid I loved that place , I still live in the neighborhood and to see
    It ignored so many years has been confusing to me , why haven’t investors seen
    The potential there , this is because they are not from here , they don’t know
    About the lines that go around the block whenever a blockbuster movie is showing,
    To see this place turn into anything but a movie theater would destroy the nostalgia
    Of myrtle avenue , I hope the new owner will consider this, when I saw the I love RT
    Sign on the theater I became happy I thought it was an announcement of its renovation
    Never the less I think it’s a great thing you guys are doing..!!!!!!!

  3. I am into theater and the arts, (not movie theater but theater production) and I would be interested in joining the conversation.

  4. Annette Luciano says:

    I’ve lived in Ridgewood since 1962. Many of the changes that have occurred over the years have been, for the most part, pretty good. Unfortunately, due to high rents and the economy, such as it was, many stores and buildings became vacant. When the other theater, the “RKO Madison” closed in the early 70′s, it was re-opened as a mini-mall, and then what is now Liberty Stores. We didn’t feel it so much because we still had the Ridgewood Theater. When that shut down, we no longer had the family entertainment that was very important in Ridgewood for many, many years. I hate the idea of traveling so far (even Atlas Park is out of the way for me)to see a movie and would absolutely support the idea of renewing and revitalizing this theater so that we can all enjoy family outings to the movies the way it used to be! We don’t need malls, or more “churches” (and I have nothing against churches), or party places, etc. We need a place for families and friends to go to enjoy movies on the big screen. I want to keep my money in Ridgewood, not Manhattan or anywhere else when it comes to some shopping and the movies. I hope to hear that we will be able to enjoy a renewal of this wonderful piece of history, sometime in the very near future! (Maybe even a family sports and activity center would be a good thing – but definitely something that people of all ages can enjoy with their families would be awesome and a place where children can enjoy activities during the summer break!)

  5. Gee says:

    To be honest i grow up here in bushwick/ridgewood all my life n now i have a son and i remember seeing the last movie was spykids 3d i honestly would like to see myself and my son going to see movies there i work in ridgewood photo i pass by the theater every day of my life and i see flashbacks of when i was young so if we all just stand together. And try to reopen this place it can be done it will be good for the area because now people have to.spend money fornthe bus or train to go.to the movies and thats why not alot of parents wanna take there kids because of the distenst so if any way i.could help count me in

  6. Josephine says:

    I live in Bushwick seen I was born when I was 14 years old me nd my friend always go movie because it was close to us now in day we have to go marathan we miss Ridgewood theater

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