The abandoned art deco Broadway Theater in the village of Monticello was a classic single screen theater. It started operating by circa 1930. According to the 1945 Film Daily Year Book the theater had 570 seats, although it was later expanded to approximately 1,000 seats.
The Broadway Theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Broadway Historic District in Monticello, New York. The historic district is comprised of 78 contributing properties along four blocks of Broadway, Monticello’s principal commercial street. The district generally extends along Broadway from Pleasant Street to the east and Liberty Street to the west. The district captures the “important commercial, educational and religious properties that relate to the significance of the community center.” The district was deemed significant “for its important associations with the history and development of Sullivan County and as the commercial center of Sullivan County in the Southern Catskills during the period when it thrived as a summer resort destination for thousands of Jewish families living in New York City.”
On the historic district’s application for inclusion on the National Register the Broadway Theater was described in detail, from both an historical perspective and an architectural perspective.
From an historical perspective, “the Broadway Theater, another small cinema catering to summer tourists, was opened in the next block west of Liberty Street at 498 Broadway by 1930. The one-story brick façade has been painted white, obscuring the white barbell decoration in the frieze and along the edge of the parapet. It retains a cantilevered metal marquee over a central entrance flanked by storefronts, two of which have been closed in by metal security doors. The theater is the centerpiece of an enclave of small one-story commercial buildings west of Liberty Street that terminate, with the historic district, at Monument Park, created around one of the village’s Civil War monuments that was moved there in 1970.”
From an architectural perspective the Broadway Theater was described as a “1 sty [story] masonry theater building, flat roof, brick façade painted white w/ tapestry brick in parapet, 4 piers at corners and flanking center bay containing metal theater marquee, large pointed barbells embedded in upper wall, 3 on each side of marquee, central entryway and one storefront shuttered, second storefront currently in use.”
In 1986 the Broadway Theater was purchased from Milton Kutscher, owner of the nearby Kutscher Hotel and Country Club, by Steven A. Klar, a lawyer, developer and old-time movie buff. Klar completely renovated the theater, including installing new seat upholstery, cleaning the marquee and replacing the movie screen. In June of 1986 the theater reopened with a tribute to Irving Berlin, a 10-minute sing-along and newsreels from the 1930s. On either side of the theater Klar also planned to build an ice-cream parlor, a candy store and movie museum. (Gutis, Phillip S. “Catskills Revivals.” New York Times. June 15, 1986.)
The Broadway Theater has been long out of business, and was available for purchase for many years. In perhaps an optimistic appraisal of its prospects, one real estate listing described the theater. “Bring the Broadway Theater back to life! Located on the main drag of the Village of Monticello, home of the NEW Resorts World Casino as well as the New Water Park and Yoga Center. Monticello is in the midst of a Renaissance. The face-lift has begun, and this is a ground floor opportunity. This is a huge project for someone with a vision to make this property shine again. Theater currently houses one screen and 800+ seats. The building in need of extensive rehabilitation, but construction seems solid. Systems have been off for some time, no representations. There are 2 storefronts in the building, one on each side of the theater entrance. Property is "L" shaped, includes a private parking lot, and abuts public parking lot in rear. Fronts on Broadway and also Liberty Street with parking. Near to Post Office, restaurants church, many other stores and businesses.”
Despite its near abandonment, the theater maintains some of its charm due to the old-fashioned marquee that remains, which offers a poignant testament to what once was the thriving business and entertainment district of Monticello, New York.