St. Monica’s Church
St. Monica’s Church was built in 1856 by master mason Anders Peterson in the Romanesque-Revivial style as the former Roman Catholic parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn, despite its location on 160th Street in Queens. The tall, central campanile in the front is its most prominent feature with an Italian flair. Today, the buildings maintains its historic facade, while the rear has been renovated to a more modern structure.
In the 20th century, much of the area surrounding the church was being bought in the expansion of York College, a part of the City University of New York. The diocese closed the church in 1973 and moved its operations to St. Bonaventure’s on 170th Street. The city then took ownership, but neglected the building subjecting St. Monica’s to vandalism.
The church was marked for demolition until the Friends of Jamaica History and the Queens Borough President’s Office stepped in. St. Monica’s was designed a New York City landmark in 1979, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year. In a $4.7 million project in 2003, the church became the site for York College’s Child and Family Center which provides affordable and flexible child care for students with children.
Find the old church’s facade at 9420 160th Street.
Loew’s Valencia Theater
Photograph by James and Karla Murray
Located on Jamaica Avenue and Merrick Boulevard, Loew’s Valencia Theatre was built in 1929 and was the first of five of the theater company’s “Wonder” theaters. The Loew’s Valencia played movies and held vaudeville performances until 1935 when vaudeville went out of style. Inside the building, the auditorium was Atmospheric and was decorated in a mixture of Spanish Colonial and pre-Colombian styles, and even housed a Robert Morton “Wonder” organ of four Manuals/23 Ranks.
Up until 1960, Loew’s Valencia Theatre was the most successful theater in Queens because of its double feature showings, and its location in Jamaica that was at one time the shopping center for Queens and Long Island. Most importantly, the theater’s shows were debuted at least a week before they hit other theaters in the borough. However, like most of the grand theaters in the city, the Valencia struggled to survive and closed 1977.
In 1979, the building was donated to the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People’s Church and continues to operate under their ownership as a Pentecostal church. The Robert Morton organ was moved to the Balboa Theater in San Diego in 2006, where it was refurbished and debuted the next year. Loew’s Valencia Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a New York City landmark in 1999.
The theatre is located at 165-11 Jamaica Avenue.