Join Untapped Cities on a special visit to the opulent Loew’s Valencia Theater in Jamaica, Queens, now home to the Tabernacle of Prayer for All. On this visit, guests will sit in the Valencia’s 3,500-seat theater and hear the history of the stunning landmark from the church’s pastoral secretary Sister Forbes. After the talk, you will have time to walk around freely and photograph the space, with staff on hand to answer any additional questions. This free experience is open to Untapped Cities Insiders. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today and access free off-limits tours and events in New York City.
The Loew’s Valencia Theater opened its doors on January 12, 1929, the first of five flagship “Wonder” theaters opened by the Loew’s chain in and around New York City during the late 1920s. The other four movie palaces include Brooklyn’s Kings Theater, Manhattan’s 175th Street Theater, the Bronx’s Paradise Theater, and Loew’s Jersey City.
The Valencia was designed by Austrian-born architect John Eberson who wanted movie-goers to feel as if they were watching a film in a distant and exotic outdoor locale like “an Italian garden, a Persian court, a Spanish patio, or a mystic Egyptian templeyard.” At one point while the space still operated as a theater, inset lights on the ceiling simulated stars and hidden lights even projected clouds that could move across the sky, like the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing. For the Valencia, Eberson mixed elements of the Spanish, Morrish, Mexican, and Baroque styles to create an unique and ornately decorated movie palace.
When the theater opened, audiences would be entertained by a combination of vaudeville and live acts and motion pictures. Starting in 1935, the theater solely presented movies. The Valencia Theater operated until 1977, when it was forced to close. In 1979, the building was donated to the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People which still functions in and maintains the property today. The church has kept the interior preserved and made only a few slight alterations to the interior. A chandelier was added to the auditorium to bring light in and a number of formerly nude sculptures that once stood in the niches have been replaced with angels.
Join Untapped Cities Insiders for a special visit to the Valencia Theater on October 20th! Registration for this event opens on Friday, October 5th at 12 PM EST.