Newburgh’s Theaters

Ritz Theater -107-109 Broadway, 1303 Seats
When fully restored will have 825 Seats
With the wonderful news of the Ritz Theater being awarded $400,000 to restore it, I thought I would highlight Newburgh’s theatrical past. According to Cinema Treasures, the City of Newburgh had about 5 Theaters, and a few on the outskirts and even a drive-in theater. Although according to Mayor Valentine the city had 7. The main idea is that Newburgh was richly alive in entertainment. It was the city where many debuted their acts before making it big such as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz who debuted “I Love Lucy” at the Ritz Theater. According to a posting on Cinema Treasures by Warren H, “Because Newburgh was more than 50 miles from NYC, the movies were usually the latest and shown simultaneously with Broadway.” One can only imagine down town city life where each theater had an average about 1,000 seats per theater! It must have been as lively as 42nd Street! (well almost).

According to Cinema Treasures, these were the theaters located in Newburgh. All have been closed, demolished, or burned down:

Academy Theatre
Broadway Theatre
Cameo Theatre
Mid Valley II
Middlehope Drive-In
Park Theatre *exists but is structurally unsound
Ritz Theatre * being restored
Squire Cinema


Park Theater – 315 Broadway, 800 Seats
(source) 1931

The Park Theater structurally exists, but will probably eventually be demolished due to buckling walls and no access to secure the structure due to the attachment of the buildings next to it. However, I was told by Newburgh Art Supply that there are some murals that still exist in the building. I wonder what those look like?


Academy Theater – 82 Broadway, 1217 Seats

Ray K. had this to say about his memories of the Academy Theater on Cinema Treasures:

“My family and I lived in Newburgh from the 40s until the 90s. In the 50s, my father worked part-time at the Academy as an usher, ticket taker and marquee changer. My brother and I practically grew up at the Academy with the Saturday afternoon matinee being especially memorable–previews, cartoons, a serial and the double feature all for 10 cents.”


Broadway Theater – 131 Broadway, 1240 Seats

Harold S. shared these memories of the Broadway Theater on Cinema Treasures:

“It has been one of my fondest childhood memories. Kid’s matinee admissions were 35 cents in the early 1960’s. Mr. Boyea let us bring snacks and drinks in with us as he knew most of us couldn’t afford the concession stand. Fishman’s just next door, sold a sleeve of popcorn for 10 cents! Mr. Boyea was great!”

With the money provided for the Ritz Theater, a full-scale Broadway stage will be restored. One can only imagine the possibilities this will provide the revitalization of the city. Safe Harbors of the Hudson, which runs the theater, has already partnered with 2 other theater groups from other towns to cooperate and partner in arts programming and development at The Ritz. There are still some legalities to be processed, but still this brings great hope that Newburgh might be able to connect with some of it’s past roots.

Also, if the Dutch Reformed Church keeps up with it’s progress, it too will eventually become a theater after A LOT of work. But what a great reuse that would be for that building….it was even used as a theater in the past. Keep it going!