Valencia Movie House
90-07 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica
135-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing
Both RKO Keith’s theater and the Valencia Movie House are the last of their kind in the borough. The two theaters, opened in 1928 and 1929 respectively, ooze an aesthetic from every nook and cranny of the buildings.
The Valencia Movie House was the first of five Loews wonder theaters built in New York City and New Jersey. Both its interior and exterior were inspired by Spanish and Mexican style and aquatic themes. The theater itself seated 3,500 people. Since 1977, the theater has been home to the Tabernacle of Prayer after the property was donated to the organization. The church restored the aging wonder back to its original beauty. In 1999, the building was named an exterior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
RKO Keith’s was a legendary theater owned by RKO pictures. During the 20th century, the building hosted a who’s who of pop culture icons, including Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Mae West, Cesar Romero, the Marx Brothers and Queens’ Connie Stevens. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
In recent years, RKO Keith’s has been in development purgatory. Five different developers have made a pass at the property, only to back out before the proposals become concrete. Most recently, plans for a 16-story high rise at the property stalled as a result of landmark issues.