Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 27 September 2013 00:00
Eighty six years ago, audiences filled the Westbury Movie Theater on Post Avenue for the first time to watch the silent film “Hula” starring Clara Bow. That old vaudeville movie house has changed dramatically since that opening night almost nine decades ago, but anticipation and excitement was just as high as community members, local and county officials celebrated the ribbon cutting and official opening of the Space at Westbury.
“It’s truly a historic day in the history of the village and of this great old building,” Westbury mayor Peter Cavallaro said.
The Space has been eight years in the making. The Tudor style theater was first opened in 1927, flourishing as a single screen, and then double screen movie theater up until the late 1970s. Patronage decreased and the theater shut its door in 2001. Cyrus Hakakian bought the property in 2004, intending to tear it down and turn it into office buildings. But once he stepped inside, he had a change of heart, inspired by the beauty of the historic building.
The once dilapidated movie theater is now an impressive state of the art venue, perfect for concerts, art shows, receptions and private events. The 1,200 seat space features the latest in sound and lighting, seven bars throughout, and private dressing rooms. There are also several artist studio loft spaces upstairs. The Space has partnered with concert promoters, The Bowery Presents, which handles booking for New York City venues such as Terminal 5 and The Mercury Lounge. Tickets for shows, featuring artists such as Fountains of Wayne and Stephen Lynch, are on sale now.
Hakakian’s transformation of the old movie theater is a model for what many hope the Space will do for Westbury’s downtown. Just as the rundown movie theater was restored to a new glory, many would like to see the downtown transformed into a bustling, cultural epicenter. The formation of the Greater Westbury Council for the Arts shows the village’s emphasis on the arts and signs of revitalization are already springing up on Post Avenue. New stores and eateries are coming in to fill vacant storefronts, including a lounge and sushi restaurant.
To find out more about the Space, including more information about the initial shows, visit www.thespaceatwestbury.com.