The 3,300 seat Loew’s Jersey Theatre opened on September 28, 1929 in Jersey City, NJ and was designed by the architectural firm of Rapp and Rapp (also known for the Paramount Theater in Times Square) and decorated by Harold W. Rambush. It was operated by the Loew’s theaters chain, and, along with the Loew’s Kings Theatre, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, the Loew’s Valencia Theatre and the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, it was one of the five “Loew’s Wonder Theaters” in the New York metropolitan area.
“Madame X” starring Ruth Chatterton and Lewis Stone was the opening day movie. The other opening day acts included Ben Black and his Rhythm Kings, the Loew’s Symphony Orchestra, and a performance on the Robert Morton “Wonder” Organ. The Jersey was designed in the Italian Renaissance style. It opened as a motion picture and vaudeville theater, with vaudeville being phased out within the first decade of the theater’s life.
In January 1975, the Jersey underwent some renovations. The Robert Morton organ was removed, and the auditorium was divided in three. Two screens in the orchestra level, and a 1,078 seat screen in the balcony. Loew’s closed the Jersey on August 21, 1986 due to low attendance and high maintenance costs, as well as the decline of the surrounding neighborhood. The last film shown was Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
The Jersey was sold in April 1987 for $1.5 million to Hartz Mountain, who planned to demolish the building, and replace it with a $10 million office complex. Preservationists were able to save the theater, and it was purchased by Jersey City in 1993. The Friends of the Loew’s formed in 1995, and began to renovate the theater. They removed the walls dividing the orchestra and balcony levels, returning the auditorium to a single screen. The Jersey reopened during the fall, winter and spring in 2001. At first, only a few seats could be used, but as the volunteer renovations continued, more and more of the auditorium was used.
In late 2007, the Robert Morton “Wonder” Organ that was originally installed in the Loew’s Paradise Theatre in the Bronx was installed in the Loew’s Jersey. The theater shut down in October 2021 so that a $72 million dollar restoration could begin. It’s scheduled to reopen as a performing arts center in 2025.
Matt Lambros NJ Jersey City Jul 06, 2022 Architecture Arts History