Borough President Vito Fossella attended the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of a massive restoration and renovation project at the historic St. George Theatre.
“Over the years, we have been strong supporters of the St. George Theatre which continues to be a New York City jewel,” said Borough President Fossella during the ceremony in its stately lobby. “We visited the theater last month to observe the finishing touches to the interior, especially the new mosaic artwork and scenery. Simply put, it looks great. We encourage all to stop by the theater to take a look, and, more importantly, to attend a show. They are terrific.”
The work included restoration of the lobby, repairing the interior plaster and paintwork and the installation of a new mosaic at the outdoor entrance.
Ground was broken on the 2,800-seat St. George Theatre in August of 1928 and the doors opened on Dec. 4, 1929, with the vision of a “dream” show house rivaling those in Manhattan. The foyer was illuminated by large stained-glass chandeliers and winding staircases leading up to the mezzanine level. Hanging above the grand lobby were oversized paintings of a bullfight and a Spanish village. The first movie to play was “So This Is College” and the headline act was the husband-and-wife team of Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields.
The theater was sold in 1938 to the Fabian Theater chain, which continued to operate it as a movie palace until 1977. In the intervening years, the space was unsuccessfully used a roller skating rink, an antiques showroom, and a nightclub. An attempt was made in the mid-1990s to reopen it as a performing arts center, which ultimately failed. Except for filming the finale of the 2003 film “School of Rock” at the theatre, the venue was basically dark for over 30 years.
In 2004, Rosemary Cappozalo and her daughters, Luanne Sorrentino and Doreen Cugno, started a not-for-profit organization to save this historic theater from being torn down. Mrs. Rosemary, a prominent dance educator, donated her life savings (over $1 million) to the organization and “saved” the St. George Theatre.