In partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Brooklyn Kings Theatre, we recently took Untapped Cities readers on a special behind-the-scenes tour of the theater in Flatbush, one of the five Loews Wonder theaters, now repurposed into a live entertainment destination. The tour was led by Steven Ehrenberg, Director of Production at the Kings Theatre, and these stunning photos were taken on the tour by Untapped Cities tour guides, photographers and authors James and Karla Murray.
The visit began in the lobby, where we were shown the details of the painstaking renovation completed by Evergreen Architectural Arts. The theater was abandoned for decades, deteriorating due to natural elements, exposure and theft. The subsequent restoration is a combination of recreated and restored elements.
Half of the auditorium had collapsed and a mold was used to recreate one side using the side that survived:
The lights in the dome can be changed (you can see a different color configuration in photos from our previous visit):
The scale and level of detail is absolutely breathtaking:
A grotto of caryatids next to stage right:
The men’s smoking room, now a VIP area. The furniture inside the Kings Theatre is all original, brought back to the theater during its renovation. When the theater closed in 1977, the lobby furniture was given to one of its long-time managers, Dorothy Solomon Panzica, who brought the pieces to her summer home in Corning, New York. In 2013, at 100 years old, Panzica heard that the theater was going to be restored. She decided to donate the furniture back, whereupon the pieces underwent a $75,000 – $80,000 restoration. Also, don’t miss the hilarious mosaics on your next visit:
One of the new fun facts we learned on this visit was that the theater was once cooled using tunnels under the seats that were filled with ice, known as an “air cooled theater.” Fans would pass across the ice and air would get pushed up through the grates, which still exist on the floor of the theater. Those ducts were saved in the restoration and turned into a modern HVAC system, and today the air goes downwards into the ducts instead.
This tour was part of a special partnership between the NYCEDC and Untapped Cities. Read more for the Top 10 Secrets of the Brooklyn Kings Theatre.
Buy books by James and Karla Murray that document NYC’s disappearing storefronts from our Untapped Cities gift shop: